Pattern Recognition

Shama’s success as Building Control Officer had led to a promotion. He became Training Director, responsible for skills improvement of Lucerne’s current and future workforce. Well, it seemed like a promotion at first, before he realized that it was actually another job as well. He was now doing two jobs for not much more money than before.

The lack of professional people in the valley meant that no one else was available. Inadequate facilities for their children caused any that moved here to leave soon after.

Shama had heard that at one time local jobs were coveted, and Village Hall only employed the best and brightest. Kids went to the New City, studied, graduated and returned to work here. Over time the attraction of the village faded, and kids now went anywhere but here to build their lives. Small towns were dying everywhere.

Shama buzzed the receptionist. “Good morning, Sue. Have you had your teatime? Do you have a moment? Good. Please join me in my office?”

“Which one?”

He had forgotten that he now had two offices – one as Building Control Officer, and the other as Training Director. “The Training Director’s office. I will be there in a minute.” He walked out of one door and into another, followed by Sue. He opened a file called Jobs of the Future.

“The issue is this,” he said, staring at Mt Alba, framed nicely by his office window. “We have many construction projects taking place in Lucerne. There are tax dollars coming into the local economy. But as soon as these projects are over, there will be no more income for the village. So now is the time to reverse the outflow of professional people.”

She said, “The previous Training Director planned to do that too, but instead he joined them.” Shama’s face fell.

She continued, “I am not saying we shouldn’t do something. We should, absolutely. We can’t even service the projects under way, never mind any future ones. That’s why you’re doing two jobs and I’m doing three. But the key is to ask what kind of people are needed.”

What does she mean by that? thought Shama. He said, “Go on.”

“Well, if there are no professional people available, why don’t we look for unprofessional people like you?… Oh dear! I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I meant practical people who get things done. We should look for key qualities in individuals, not people with labels, and we should think and plan ahead to avoid any more staff turnover.”

She’s pretty smart, thought Shama. People on the front line always are. They deal with unexpected situations, whoever comes in or calls right now. Those in offices deal with controlled situations; they have work plans, meetings and schedules.

“What do you suggest?” he asked.

“The first step is pattern recognition. I don’t mean pattern matching, where you look for exactly what you want, as we know that’s not available right now. We should use some fuzzy logic, and look for clusters of skills and reasonable answers. I know the lingo as I’m studying for a Human Relations diploma. From what I’ve read, it seems that future jobs will be more flexible, freelance and collaborative. That’s the approach we should take.”

Shama had an idea and said, “I need a Training Manager immediately. I could ask you to do it, but I know you’re too busy. But we need someone like you with common sense, creativity, imagination, people skills, technical awareness, and focus. Do you have a sister?”

“No, I don’t, but I do have a cousin looking for work. See, you’re learning already.”

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