The Southern Regional Education Board- Improving Education, Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution | Maher & Maher
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The Southern Regional Education Board- Improving Education, Preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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In this 36-minute episode, host Rick Maher is joined by Stephen Pruitt, President of The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), the largest collaborative of its type in the United States. Stephen shares his perspective on the future of work and discusses the training that will be required to prepare the workforce for the future economy. Discover the multigenerational challenge and the impact that today’s job losses can have on future generations.

Episode Guest List:

Stephen PruittStephen Pruitt took office as the sixth president of the Southern Regional Education Board in July 2018. Before coming to SREB, Pruitt was Kentucky’s state commissioner of education. At the national level, he had worked closely with state agencies and educators around the country to improve policy and practice in science education. In Georgia, Pruitt served as science and mathematics program manager, director of academic standards, associate state superintendent for assessment and accountability and chief of staff for the Georgia Department of Education.

Connect with Mr. Pruitt on Linkedin.

Full Transcript of this episode:

Speaker 1:                          Welcome to Talent Talks. Each month human resources veteran Rick Maher welcomes America's thought leaders to discuss ways to reinvent America's talent development and education systems. Tune in and discover how we can drive global competitiveness for future generations. Talent Talks is presented by Maher & Maher, and IMPAQ International, who together are delivering research and evidence based solutions to workforce challenges. And now your host, Rick Maher.

Rick Maher:                       This is Rick Maher welcoming you back to Talent Talks, where we're going to explore the world of talent development with our nation's most prominent thought leaders on workforce and educational issues.

Rick Maher:                       Today, we're going to turn our attention to those working to prepare our educational system for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Rick Maher:                       We here in the U.S. of course have created an educational system that has been the envy of the world, but it's also one that's been largely unchanged for decades. Making it, at times, hard to see how it can meet the potential disruptions of the so-called fourth industrial revolution and all the new technology that will bring.

Rick Maher:                       We're going to need an educational system that can keep up, if we hope to compete and win in a future global economy. So, we're thrilled to welcome a leader of a unique organization, that is tackling the future of education across a region of 16 Southern states.

Rick Maher:                       The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, is the largest such regional collaborative in the U.S. and they are doing some interesting work on the future of work.

Rick Maher:                       So I've asked SREB's president, Stephen Pruitt, to join us today and tell us what they're up to. So Stephen, we're so happy to have you. Welcome to Talent Talks.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Thank you so much. I'm thrilled to be here.

Rick Maher:                       Cool. I guess we should start by letting you tell our listeners a little bit about SREB, Stephen. I honestly didn't know a lot about you until we met, and I was really floored to learn that there was a 16 state interstate compact focused on educational reform.

Rick Maher:                       Can you start by just giving us a bit about your organization, your mission, maybe your membership? Tell us about SREB.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Absolutely. We are actually an organization that's more than 70 years old. We were formed back in 1948, after the Roosevelt Commission determined that the biggest economic liability in the country was the Southern region.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, the 16 governors and legislatures came together and created the Southern Regional Education Board. We are sort of a metaphorical bridge that brings people together around education.

Stephen Pruitt:                 When two states build a bridge across a body of water, for instance, over the border, they enter an interstate compact agreement that they'll both take care of the bridge and that they will both invest in the bridge. And that's really what SREB has been about, is helping improve the economic viability of the South through education.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So our mission has been pretty clear for a long time. We guide and support states as they advance all levels of education to improve the social and economic vitality of the SREB region.

Stephen Pruitt:                 We have a board made up of the 16 governors of our states. Our states run from Delaware down to Florida, over to Texas, up to Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky. So, it's a pretty diverse group of states. We have the very small in Delaware and the very large in Texas and Florida.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Those 16 governors sit ex officio on our board. They appoint four additional members to our board and they tend to be legislators. So our work, we really get to work with the top policymakers in each of our states and help provide them guidance over a range of educational issues.

Rick Maher:                       That's amazing. And the fact that it's chartered, supported by governors and also by legislators is a real, real plus. And again, I didn't even know, honestly and I have been around a little while, as you know. I didn't know about SREB and I'm just intrigued with the fact that you all are there, and more importantly, the kinds of things you're doing.

Rick Maher:                       I suspect most of our listeners, like me, have been unfamiliar with your organization. And I think they're probably pleased and excited to know that there are folks out there with your kind of executive and legislative support, working on issues tended to the future of work.

Rick Maher:                       We talked about it when we first met, Stephen, in a recent Talent Talks episode, we've really been focused on the future of work and the possible disruption it could bring to the U.S. workplace.

Rick Maher:                       New technologies, AI, machine learning, robotics, autonomous vehicles, just a lot of new tech is literally going to change every job in every sector it seems. This so called future of work has the potential, I think, to hurt both employers and workers. And I know you folks are really laser focused on that challenge.

Rick Maher:                       I've talked a lot about the fact that the punditry on this subject of the future of work is all over the place. I mean, you see folks that are really talking about a potential devastating disruption, all the way over to other folks that see it as people sounding the alarm that it doesn't exist. That some jobs will go away and other jobs will replace them and everything's going to be fine.

Rick Maher:                       As an organization, what's your take on the future of work? Do you see it as a potential significant disruption or do you feel like it's overblown punditry? What's your take on future of work, Stephen?

Stephen Pruitt:                 That's a great question, Rick. There's a lot of people that have for years, been predicting that robots are going to take over and that automation was going to eliminate the need for human workers. That's not going to be completely true. There is a significant disruption coming with automation and with artificial intelligence, but it also opens opportunities.

Stephen Pruitt:                 In the South, in the Southern region, we have more than 50 million people currently working in SREB states. Most of them are going to be affected by automation in the coming decades.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I mean, right now, about 30% of work activities and about 60% of our jobs are automateable already. 5% of the jobs are completely automateable. In fact, by 2030, it's maybe even conservative estimate, that we'll have 23 to 44% of activities may be automated by then.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, it's going to be a pretty significant disruption that we have to go ahead and be thinking about. The issue's going to come that, while people have been talking about this forever ...

Stephen Pruitt:                 I mean, I know I grew up watching the Jetsons and hoped that someday I would be able to fly around with a little jet pack. But the reality is, where we are now, there's some who would say, "Oh, this is going to pass," but it's the curve. That curve is so steep, of how much change and how quickly we're going to see it now.

Stephen Pruitt:                 With the invention of 3D printers, with all the different things that are coming out ... I mean right now, you can't go into McDonald's and order with a human anymore. You do it with a giant iPad.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, it's going to be a significant disruption. But I think the thing that we want to help people start thinking about is, the days of it's coming, it's coming, it's coming are ending. It's here.

Rick Maher:                       Yep. Yeah. And I think that's a really, really important point. I liked your comment that there are opportunities, and there certainly are opportunities. I mean, if you're on the right edge of this thing, there's going to be all kinds of new opportunities.

Rick Maher:                       I'm concerned about those hardest to serve populations. Those X percent of jobs that you say are ready to be totally automated. We got to make sure that these people are not lost in the scrap heap of history as we move through this change.

Rick Maher:                       I love the fact that there is an educational entity with the size and scope of yours, that is focused on this. Because really, what we've been trying to do is not solve the problems, as much as just start the discussion here and get people focused.

Rick Maher:                       That brings me to this report that I see that you guys have put out, that I just love the title of it because I think by its title it sounds an alarm.

Rick Maher:                       This is the report you call Unprepared and Unaware: Upskilling the Workforce for a Decade of Uncertainty. I just don't know how much better I could have said it than that.

Rick Maher:                       It's pretty obvious from that report title, that you think we've got some work to do here and that we need to be prepared for maintaining our edge in the future economy.

Rick Maher:                       Can you just talk to me a little bit about that report? And if you would, get our listeners tuned in. What is the essence of the report, Stephen? And I suppose this is a redundant question, but why did you choose to publish it now?

Stephen Pruitt:                 I'm really thrilled that you love the title. We spent a lot of time debating that title.

Rick Maher:                       I think it's great. Yeah.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Yeah, it really worked out well. One of the things that we try to do at SREB is have a good title that will capture our readers, but sometimes we've been a little more academic maybe than I would hope. But this one, it's pretty specific to the point.

Stephen Pruitt:                 We have this report that one of our wonderful researchers, Megan Crow, really kind of started studying this from an adult education perspective.

Stephen Pruitt:                 One thing I didn't mention with SREB earlier, is we are very unusual in that we actually work, as I jokingly say, from pre-K to gray. I mean, we work the whole spectrum of education.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, it started as kind of looking at this through the lens of adult education. And in doing so, we started realizing that, especially if you look at current employees that are ages 25 to 35, that have only high school diplomas or GEDs, these are going to be the most vulnerable to the changes that are coming with automation and AI.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Right now they're employed. They have jobs, they're owning their own homes, they're going on vacations. Life is pretty good. We have among the lowest unemployment rates in the country, than we've had in a very long time. So, they are unprepared though for when jobs that they currently have evolve into something that is more of a middle skills job as opposed to a low skill.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I mean, right now, out in the West, they're testing self-driving tractor trailer trucks. There are a lot of those types of things that are coming and so they are unprepared, but the thing is, they're unaware that they're unprepared. And so we've got this decade coming, that we really have to start to think about this differently.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I mean across SREB, the automation potential in our top five industries, 86% of the automation potential in production, for instance, transportation can be as much as 63%, sales, 42%. I mean, so this is a pretty significant impact here.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I mean, we have 26 million workers, and 52% of those are in ... in the U.S. are just here in the SREB region. But the thing is, 42% of those have a high school diploma or less. So, the opportunity is that, if we can get to these folks and help them get up-skilled or re-skilled, then we can help make sure that they stay in the workforce over time. If we don't, then we're going to have a bigger problem.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So we started looking at this because we try to project things that are 10, 15 years out, so we can start having these conversations with our policymakers.

Stephen Pruitt:                 But then we stumbled on something else. A lot of people have done this kind of study. That part of the study is not necessarily new information, but we started looking at the ages of the children of these 25 to 35 year olds.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Well, guess what? Those kids are going to graduate high school by 2030, at the same time mom and dad are losing their jobs. So, that means that these kids are going to be in a home where mom and dad are not going to be employed. That means the children, if we've not changed how we do K-12 education, they may not be prepared. And those kids are 10 times more likely to go into the same line of work as mom and dad.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, you end up with this really significant multigenerational problem and it's exacerbated when we started thinking about, that we have a dependent population by 2030, that for the first time we'll have more people dependent than we do actually in the workforce. So for every 53 dependent people, we only have 47 people in the workforce.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So that's a pretty significant deal, where if we start ... if we don't have enough of those people in the workforce, the people that are dependents, and this is by age only, that's going to be a pretty significant problem.

Rick Maher:                       Yep. And you know what? A couple things on that. Number one, the issue, you use the example of autonomous vehicles. I was rolling out as part of a team rolling out sector strategies years ago in one of your members states that will remain nameless. But to the credit of an executive in the workforce and educational system in that state, as we were rolling it out and picking priority sectors to start with ...

Rick Maher:                       Of course the heavy priority sector there was transportation and distribution. This executive said, "With autonomous vehicles being talked about, should we be spending public dollars on training truck drivers?" And no one in the room at that time ... And again, this was maybe five years ago ... had an answer.

Rick Maher:                       I suspect that were that same thing to happen today, I'm not sure that there would have been an answer yet, and that's the purpose of this conversation.

Rick Maher:                       I was in a board meeting in a major American city just a month ago and their number one placement is truck drivers. Now, there's a demand. That's wonderful. But if these people start to get disrupted three, five years after we graduate them, what responsibility do we as a system have for preparing them for that eventuality?

Rick Maher:                       Right now, I don't think people are, A, asking those questions ... You being one notable exception, Stephen ... and B, I don't think they've got an idea on how to get to an answer. So this report, you're bringing out the highlight of it. That is really important.

Rick Maher:                       Again, from my perspective, just to get people focused on it and start a discussion about, "Okay, what's the future going to be for this segment of our population, that is skilled in good jobs, middle class jobs, having a pretty good time now, but it's really at risk in the future of work scenario?" And then the same-

Stephen Pruitt:                 Well ...

Rick Maher:                       Go ahead. Go ahead.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I was just going to say, the interesting thing about all of this is ... And I think this is why this is so hard ... is we are having to figure out how do you balance the workforce needs of today? This very moment in October of 2019-

Rick Maher:                       Exactly.

Stephen Pruitt:                 ... how do you balance what we need right now with what we're going to need in 10 years? This is, I think, why this is really a systemic issue. This isn't a K-12 issue. It's not an adult ed issue. It's not a post-secondary issue. This is a full-on alert to everyone, in thinking about how we're preparing the kids that are right now in first grade, who are going to be graduating. But also, the moms and dads out there, who really need to be up-skilled to be prepared for whatever that new horizon is.

Stephen Pruitt:                 And all along that, it changes how we even think about technical education. It's about thinking about, "Gosh, this isn't about learning how to make a widget or learning how to have this particular skill. It's actually learning how to learn. And then how to continue that learning process over time, so that as my job evolves, I can evolve with it."

Rick Maher:                       Right. I love that and you're right. For me, Stephen, this conversation is about a call to action. We're not sitting here pretending to have all the answers, but we are trying to tell people, this is a time when all of us need to get all hands on deck and start serious conversations.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Absolutely.

Rick Maher:                       I mean, at some point, somebody's going to have to map the competencies of these drivers for instance, using that example, continuing that example and start to figure out what other sectors require those competencies and how we're going to bridge those folks.

Rick Maher:                       The other thing, before I forget, on your earlier answer about the report and the essence of the report, you touched on this aspect of what you guys are talking about, this multigenerational aspect.

Rick Maher:                       I haven't heard anybody speak to it, honestly, other than you. And it makes sense, although it wasn't ... In my mind, it makes sense that a family whose ... the father may be a truck driver ...

Rick Maher:                       Again, I don't want to pick on these guys because they have a great livelihood. It's a good profession. It's just that risk right now. [inaudible 00:18:27], seeing his family do well, seeing his dad or mom, for that matter I guess, do well, and I could see that person naturally gravitate to following in their footsteps. And frankly, if the parent isn't aware of the problem, they have no reason to try to let the kid be aware of the risks. So, I could see that multigenerational aspect.

Rick Maher:                       There needs to be a broad conversation and a lot more awareness built. Isn't that the point of you raising this multigenerational aspect of the future of work?

Stephen Pruitt:                 Absolutely. Yeah. This is where working with policymakers and business and industry leaders, it's ... We tend to think of the workforce of tomorrow and we think solely in terms of K-12.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Recently, I was presenting and I had a room full of policymakers and I put up, "Here are some different age groups. What age group should we be focusing on for tomorrow's workforce?" And 63% of them in the room ... It was a pretty significant room, probably over a hundred ... say ages five to 18, which is the K-12 ages.

Stephen Pruitt:                 And that's true, but the reality is, if we don't already need to be thinking about the adults who are currently in the workforce too. And think about this fully systemically. It means we're waiting for these kids to graduate high school.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Well, if they see mom and dad, as you mentioned earlier, in a job and they're proceeding to be doing well, then we're actually going to miss a whole other generation and now we've got a real problem on our hands.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Already, we're looking at the potential. We had a followup report to Unprepared and Unaware, that really looked at the economic impact and the workforce impact. If things were to stay the way they are, and we don't do anything to change how we're approaching K-12 or adult ed, we are looking at potentially 18 million unemployable adults.

Stephen Pruitt:                 I'm going to say that really slowly, even though my accent sort of makes me say things slowly.

Rick Maher:                       No. Go ahead. Yeah.

Stephen Pruitt:                 It's 18 million unemployable. So not unemployed, but unemployable, meaning they do not have the skills to meet the workforce needs by 2030. Now, that's just the people who are currently in the workforce, that doesn't count their children. So if you think about it, you're looking at potentially a tsunami of unemployable individuals if we don't make significant change systemically to how we're approaching this.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So again, if you think about the fact that we have 53 dependents for every 47 working age individuals, and now you take 18 million of them off of the total, you don't have 47 for 53, it actually makes it a lot worse.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, those that are dependent on those. My parents, the people who should be enjoying their golden ages now, they're not going to have the ability to be supported by the people who are actually in the workforce. There won't be enough.

Rick Maher:                      And it just puts more and more strain on those social programs that are already [crosstalk 00:21:43].

Stephen Pruitt:                 Exactly.

Rick Maher:                       Right, exactly. Give me that number again. How many unemployable and was that in your region or in the country?

Stephen Pruitt:                 This is just in our region. 18, one eight million individuals who could be unemployable. That is just in the SREB region. Obviously, we do some national research too, but our focus tends to be on our 16 states.

Stephen Pruitt:                 You can actually go to our website and you could look at any of our states. We'll even tell you by state, how many unemployables you currently could have. But the across the region, you're looking at 18 million unemployable.

Rick Maher:                       And again, I want our listeners to know that this report that I've been so impressed with, Unprepared and Unaware: Upskilling the Workforce for a Decade of Uncertainty, and then the followup report that you did, which is basically the economic impact of Unaware and Unprepared where these stats come from, really worthwhile reading.

Rick Maher:                       I think what you guys are doing for the rest of us here, Stephen, with these reports, is you're breaking through a lot of the clutter and bringing this down to these 16 states. Which obviously have their own unique industries and sectors, but I suspect are not all that different from another grouping of 16 states somewhere else in the country, in terms of the broad based challenge that you're facing. So, I commend those reports to our readers and you for undertaking them and getting them out.

Rick Maher:                       Now, you got to help me with this. So you've put this data out, you've got a board made up of ... supported by governors and legislatures and others. Is it having an impact on your leadership? Do people get it and has it helped you solidify the kinds of political buy-in you're going to need to make systemic change?

Stephen Pruitt:                 It is. One of the things about SREB ... And I've been here a little over a year now ... and you hear a lot of people say this, but I don't think I've ever seen it in any organization the way I do here, is SREB was founded and has continued a tradition of being fiercely nonpartisan. And so we do that by really hitting hard the issues of, how do you improve the economic vitality of the South?

Stephen Pruitt:                 So the people that are on our board, the people that come to our meetings, all of our policymakers, they listen to us, they come to us, they ask us for advice. But part of our role is to be a nudge. If we see something coming, we have the responsibility to our states to make them aware of it.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, we released this report and in June we released the economic impact. I've probably already testified in front of at least half of our states, in either a legislative hearing or a state board of education hearing about this issue.

Stephen Pruitt:                 It's getting traction. People are listening, people are wanting to understand how to do more, but the thing is, this is hard. I love how you said it earlier, this is really a call to action. It's really introducing the fact that we have this big issue coming, but all the answers aren't clear yet. It's how do we begin to work?

Stephen Pruitt:                 So SREB, one of the things we do is help our States find unique solutions to common challenges, because everything's going to be a little different. The way the workforce looks in Delaware is going to be very different than the way it looks in Texas.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So us bringing that to their attention and then helping them walk through that, and helping them see how they get to participate in the intellectual exercise of this, I think is critical.

Stephen Pruitt:                 The thing that I'm encouraged with is, it's gotten great uptake, where people are paying attention. They are listening. Do we have a lot of big time motion yet? No, but we're starting to see it and we're starting to see where they're making some initial steps, that I think can make a big impact.

Rick Maher:                       Yeah, and that's the most important thing for now. We just did, on Talent Talks here last month, a podcast with Washington State's Task Force on the Future of Work. They were the first state in the country to have such a task force formed. And most recently, I've been in touch with folks here in New Jersey, who kicked off their own future of work task force, off the governor's office.

Rick Maher:                       So like you, these folks are engaged and they're starting to discover there are roles here in educational reform. There's roles here in the way that we train folks. Having each semester start in January and September may not cut it anymore. We're going to have to come to scale a lot faster. There's going to have to be solutions that are a little more nimble, maybe than in the past. Everybody's going to have to get ...

Rick Maher:                       Employers too are going to need to step up. What's their role in this? We've talked to a couple of those as well and I'm very encouraged to see, they seem to be stepping up too. I mean, they don't want that big $18 million number of unemployable folks either. And I think they're taking some role here, but there's a huge public policy discussion and role that you're helping us kick off and I love it.

Rick Maher:                       There's a whole country out there as they say, Stephen. Not everyone is as far along as you guys are in SREB. Right? Not everyone has the governor and the legislature at their back. And some folks out there I suspect, are trying to start the discussion and trying to maybe align players in their home state to do something like what you're doing.

Rick Maher:                       I'm just curious. I mean, do you have any recommendations for that person who might be a leader in their own home area, but there hasn't been as much done there, and maybe wants to start a discussion and bring people together around this topic? I mean, if you were to give somebody a few tips on how to get started, do you have anything that you might offer to our listeners?

Stephen Pruitt:                 I do. I've got a couple of ideas. As I said earlier, we started this as ... We want to bring this to everybody's attention. And in fact, I kind of jokingly say here in the office, that we started off ... I'm sort of a superhero movie geek, so we sort of started off dark like in the DC movies, but we're going to end up like Marvel and everybody's going to win in the end.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Some ideas that we're doing, so if you think about the state level, one of the big things at the state level that we're pushing with our policymakers is, make sure that you're making good database decisions and you're aligning your resources to get you what you need.

Stephen Pruitt:                 We talk a lot around here about having a unified vision for workforce. So, from the governor to the legislature, to the state school board, to the post-secondary organizations, could you articulate what your vision for the workforce in your state is?

Stephen Pruitt:                 And once you can, then you should align federal programs that give you resources to help move you there. Things like the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Perkins V law that actually governs career technical education. The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, that really helps focus on the workforce and adult education. Align those things and be very deliberate, and make some hard decisions. And say, "Look, yeah, we've done it this way for the last 25 years, but that's not going to work for us going forward."

Rick Maher:                       Exactly. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stephen Pruitt:                 I think another thing is really engaging business and industry. Engaging them, not just, "Hey, could you come and do a career day for us?," or, "Could you give us money?" But actually really developing a partnership, where there are more opportunities for students to experience work-based learning, where apprenticeships become more prevalent, where we overcome barriers.

Stephen Pruitt:                 In advanced manufacturing a lot of times, it's hard for people to say, "Well, we can't have a high school student in our plant because of liabilities."

Stephen Pruitt:                 Well, what we did in Kentucky was, we did a statewide contract with an employment agency. The employment agency hired them and placed them in those plants, so that those kids got that opportunity, but the business actually didn't have the liability. So there's ways around it, but it takes a real partnership with business and industry to consider that.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Now, the third thing I would say is, we also need to remember we need to be balanced here. We don't need the pendulum to swing so much. We've been talking about college for a long time. We don't need to swing to where now everybody's talking about technical. We need to remember that balance is important.

Stephen Pruitt:                 It doesn't matter. Post-secondary is post-secondary. We need people who are still going to graduate with four year degrees and doctorates, but we also need people who are graduating from community technical colleges, ready to go to work. So, balance is going to be important.

Stephen Pruitt:                 But at the end of the day, the question everybody's got to ask themselves is, "Do I have the courage to make decisions now for an uncertain future?"

Stephen Pruitt:                 I told our policymakers that, many of them with term limits and so forth, they have the opportunity to plant the seed for the tree whose shade they will never sit under. That takes real courage.

Stephen Pruitt:                 So, I guess my biggest thing is, we're going to have to have a nation of courageous people, who are willing to sit down and make some hard decisions and recognize that balancing today with tomorrow is hard, but that conversation is worth it.

Rick Maher:                       Yeah. You know what? I love that. It is going to take a group of courageous leaders. I have a slide that I use in some of my presentations on this subject, that simply says, "I'm not going to tell you it's going to be easy, but I am going to tell you it's going to be worth it."

Stephen Pruitt:                 Absolutely.

Rick Maher:                       That's exactly I think, the kinds of conversation that I'm trying to offer to our listeners here, and you have done an amazing job of furthering that discussion, Stephen. You're a breath of fresh air. I really, really appreciate you joining us.

Rick Maher:                       And I know there's going to be some people that are going to want to, A, get your report, and B, maybe connect with you and follow your progress at SREB. So if some of our listeners want to know more or get copies of these reports or connect with you, how would you suggest people follow SREB and get more information?

Stephen Pruitt:                 Sure. Our website is S-R-E-B dot O-R-G. We have all of those reports are available online. They are free. You can go in, go under our topics and go to workforce, and everything that you would want to see ... And like I said, you can look at it across the region. You can look at it by state. We go out of our way to try to not just deliver across the region, but we want every state to understand where they are as well.

Stephen Pruitt:                 You can follow us on Twitter at @SREBeducation or you can follow me personally at @drspruitt, at D-R-S-P-R-U-I-T-T.

Rick Maher:                       Well, I'm going to do it, so you're going to have one new listener at least, and I think a few more.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Excellent.

Rick Maher:                       Yeah. Stephen, I can't tell you. It's been a joy meeting you, learning more about your organization and having this conversation with you today. I really respect and appreciate your time and your partnership. Really appreciate you joining us on Talent Talks. Thanks so much.

Stephen Pruitt:                 Well, thank you for having us. Thank you so much.

Rick Maher:                       Well, folks, that's a conversation that I hope you'll find interesting and beneficial. I encourage you to go get SREB's reports and to continue to follow their progress.

Rick Maher:                       Until next time in Talent Talks, this is Rick Maher again, thanking you for listening and reminding you that at Talent Talks, we hope to explore, inform and inspire you because we are all actors in a global war for talent. One where talent is seen as the new global currency and you are America's talent investment bankers.

Rick Maher:                       So, we hope you've been inspired to take a risk, make a difference. We hope you'll dare to be great. Break something and make it better. Try, fail, but fail fast and try again. Thanks again for listening and have a great day. We'll see you again next month on Talent Talks.

Speaker 1:           Thank you for listening to Talent Talks presented by Maher & Maher and IMPAQ International. For more information on what is being done to position America's workers, employers, and communities for future prosperity, sign up for our newsletter at That's

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