Page 10 - Campus Technology, July 2017
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person and do it nearly 70,000 times a day in eight locations, with 3,000 employees? Scale is the enemy of personalization. We have deep conversations here about how technology, for example, can either make us more productive, which usually means dehumanizing, or make us more personal. Which way are we going to use it?
I don’t have great answers. There are lots of little things I could say that help, but I think that’s just a constant struggle.
CT: Say you’re walking around campus and you happen to see somebody behind the counter addressing a student in a way that you think is less than personalized. Do you pull that person aside after the transaction and say, “I might have handled that a little differently”?
Shugart: Let me tell you a story about that. At the registration office you won’t find a counter. We took them out. Now instead of standing across the counter and instead of having the view of the back end of a computer screen with the wires coming out, instead of standing in a queue — remember, they were practically invented in Orlando — instead of doing all that, we have a lounge with couches. A student checks in and is logged into a system that will beep them on their phone and tell them, “Your assistant Molly is ready to meet with you now.” Molly will come out and walk them into her little cubicle, where they
both sit on the same side of the desk and look at the computer screen together and have a conversation: “Why are you here today? What can I do for you? Why do you think you need a copy of your transcript? Well, let me show you how you can do that yourself.” It’s person-to- person and shoulder-to-shoulder.
Last week I was at the registration office on our East Campus, just wandering through, high-fiving and teasing with people. And I saw one of our young registration assistants get up from her desk, walk out to the couch, invite the young lady waiting there to come join her at her desk and sit side-by-side. I came over and said, “I just love so much how well you did that. I feel like I would follow you to your desk. You can give me any advice you want. Thanks for treating our students so well.” It’s better to catch them doing something right.
CT: What’s the biggest challenge the school is facing now that you’re taking on as your next big thing?
Shugart: Orlando is the best economy in the world for putting unskilled people into low-paying jobs. If you want to work in Orlando, you can get a job for $9 an hour. You can get two or three — if you’re willing to park cars or clean rooms or whatever you need to do. The service jobs are important to our economy. I don’t mean to put them or the service economy
down. It’s wonderful. It’s what has made Orlando what it is. The problem is the people who enter the workforce on the bottom rungs of that ladder can’t climb the ladder. There are not enough rungs. It runs out after two rungs. We’ve got this permanently under-employed public here — hundreds of thousands of people who are stuck in low-paying jobs. Meanwhile, we have skill shortages at the same time. The construction industry here, for example, is exploding. They’re so hard-up for talent, they’re unbundling the job into discrete skills. When I was growing up, if you were a brick mason, you could do anything that any brick mason could do. You could build chimneys and door jams and fireplaces and fancy block, stone, tile, whatever. Now the construction crew has 10 or 15 people who can lay brick to a line and one who supervises
and does the fancy work.
We saw an opportunity in that. We asked, if we could have
one impact on our community beyond what we do now, what would it be? The answer was, we’d add rungs to the ladder, so the people stuck at the bottom could move up the ladder and move from $9 to $12.50 to $16 to $19 an hour, where they could support a family for the long term.
The way to do that is to provide this discrete skill training in very short, intensive bursts. The opportunity cost is low, and with immediate employment that improves their rate of pay.
We’ve been at this for about two years now, and we’re still scaling it. We call them the centers for accelerated

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