Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Transferable skills" watch: Whole Foods edition

It's funny to see what pops up on a Google Alert for a specific phrase in the news media. Here's the Chicago Tribune, talking about a major employer: 
"One of our bakery team leaders is from the (Northwest Indiana) area," Amick said. "She started last year and trained in our Orland (Park, Ill.,) location. She became the associate team leader there and will be the bakery team leader in Schererville." 
Not all jobs at the new Schererville store will require retail grocery experience. Amick said the chain seeks out people with "transferable skills." 
"If someone worked in customer service before — that is a transferable skill. If you have worked in a kitchen before, that's a transferable skill. We can teach them about the food, but the energy and excitement, that's transferable," Amick said. 
Some of jobs require a certain level of skill and previous related experience, such as a cake decorator, meat cutter, cook, Amick said. 
"In grocery, there are buyer/specialists positions and those are full-time and have to have a lot more product knowledge out-of-the-gate," Amick said and added these types of employees need to be able to anticipate sales and be able to coach, mentor and train new team members.
But has the meat cutter been to graduate meat cutting school? Perhaps the meat cutter is lacking in the soft skills meat cutters need in today's market.  

11 comments:

  1. When I worked at a grocery store during my undergrad, our meat cutters were actually ticketed tradespeople who were in their own union.

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    1. I briefly worked as a meat cutter while an undergrad--no meat-cutter's union there. It was actually one of the better jobs I had back then, but I'm mostly just relieved that I made it to grad school with all my fingers....

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  2. Yes, butchery is a skill.

    I don't think most employers are interested in the concept of transferable skills - I'm willing to bet the phrase (primarily found among job hunters) is going out of vogue. Employers want plug-N-play.

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    1. "hitting the ground running"

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    2. I should note that I agree that butchery/meat cutting is a real craft/trade/skill.

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    3. I should note that Amick doesn't appear to know what a transferable skill actually is:
      "If someone worked in customer service before — that is a transferable skill. If you have worked in a kitchen before, that's a transferable skill."
      No, it's experience. Transferable skills might be involved (and possibly not), but "working in customer service" and "working in a kitchen" are experiences.
      "We can teach them about the food, but the energy and excitement, that's transferable."
      Energy and excitement are not skills.

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    4. Maybe for Amick transferable skills are code for "young but experienced applicants." I wouldn't be surprised. Like Humpty Dumpty the words are to mean what he says they mean. Or perhaps like Martin "Bottleneck" Burke (see "This Week's C&EN 8/3/15" in this blog) it's enough for something to be remotely associated with what he's referring to, to be referred to with the same label. Or perhaps he just likes the word "transferable" - after all, it seems to lend itself to a lot of different uses.

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    5. Maybe "transferable skills" has been elevated to the status of business management meme that every "hip" biz person uses without actually honoring it or even a hint of awareness as to what it actually means. In that it joins that hoary cliche about "thinking outside the box," the buzzwords "sustainability" and "embeddedness," and ironic business functions (e.g. "human resources").

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    6. " "In grocery, there are buyer/specialists positions and those are full-time and have to have a lot more product knowledge out-of-the-gate," Amick said and added these types of employees need to be able to anticipate sales and be able to coach, mentor and train new team members."

      So, Amick is saying, "We don't train, but our employees do."

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  3. Apropos 8/6/15 1:28 PM, has anyone noticed an increase in positions requiring the training of subordinates/junior employees?

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  4. "But has the meat cutter been to graduate meat cutting school? Perhaps the meat cutter is lacking in the soft skills meat cutters need in today's market."

    Maybe not, but perhaps he's been to meat science graduate school. Admittedly, this is mostly found in Texas, the Midwest, and parts of the West in the US. Students learn about and conduct research in animal nutrition, carcass assessment, genetics and a few other areas.

    The last time I met a meat scientist - PhD and all - was several years ago in New Zealand. He had emigrated from South Africa to give his family a safer life and was working as a taxi driver (in Christchurch, if memory serves).

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