What I learned from Undercover Bosses


Work not taught in school.

I started watching Undercover Boss a few weeks ago and one thing showed up repeatedly.  The bosses were not seen as being capable of doing the work that they hired others to do.  One major reason that I could see was that the training time was too short for most people to do the jobs being demanded of them after just an hour or so of training, if that.  These were jobs that all required rapid response time, multitasking skills, and flexibility in thinking.  But guess what, these were not managerial jobs, but rather the blue collar jobs that many people feel “anyone can do” and because of that “are not all that economically worthy”.  The bosses came away with a new appreciation of the demands on their workers and a greater respect for them.

Now in the series, changes are made to help the people who worked with the boss as well as some improvements to the company itself.  But what I didn’t actually hear much of, was how to make sure that more people could actually learn to master these jobs.

One in 6 individuals has some sort of learning problem.  These problems don’t just affect academics, but all learning, from how to clean up a bedroom, to doing a line job.  These individuals end up on unemployment or needing handouts more frequently because we are not recognizing and putting into place adequate training resources so that when they get the job, they are able to do it to the level management requires.

Change needs to occur early in the lives of these individuals.  Schools focus on academics, but they don’t provide needed real life training too, which is needed by most of our students.  There is a need to look at educational reform not just from how to get more academics into students, but how to help them develop lifelong skills for many potential jobs.  Higher education is getting harder to afford and a BA doesn’t take you very far any more. This is one of the many reasons that for profit schools are doing so well.  They  train in specific skills for specific jobs in a practical, hands-on approach.  Some community colleges are also trying to fill this void.  But for the students who have academic problems, they may not qualify for these programs.  We need to reconsider educational tracks for students who don’t plan on going to college but need skills that are usable upon graduation from high school.

As a society, we need to make sure that our tax dollars are paying for an education that is useful to all, not just those who are college – and graduate school – bound.

One thought on “What I learned from Undercover Bosses

  1. Good thoughts. We love Undercover Boss. There was a successful businessman in our northland–Jeno Paulucci–who regularly employed folks with learning disabilities of all kinds to work in his frozen pizza and other frozen food entree plants. Overall his employees were dedicated and maintained Jeno’s excellent reputation for quality frozen foods My husband (Rob) likes to tell the story of working at Jeno’s factory right out of highschool–he was fired by his intellectually challenged manager (40 years ago) as he (my husband) was goofing-off instead of working on the nightshift. Rob was impressed by his manager’s seriousness. I think it made an impression because he has never forgotten it. Jeno sold his factories and passed on not too long ago. Jeno is greatly missed in our area. Rob has been an employer for over 30 years himself. He has hired those with disabilities in the past only to fail miserably. We are in the construction business which may have to do with it. Lately he has been more successful in hiring those on disability. The reason he’s more successful now (I think) is because he understands some of the disorders better. “Knowledge is power”–looking forward to your next newsletter. Carol

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