I met a good friend of mine for lunch yesterday. My friend Silvia happens to work for Foreign Trade Institute in Long Beach, California. She has actually been working there for the past 10 years. Over our Sushi lunch we were casually discussing the “State of Workers’ Compensation”, the lack of students, the closing of Vocational Counseling offices, reminiscing about old times and sort of catching up on each others lives.
Towards the end of our lunch Silvia asked, “If you have a bit of time could you come up and meet Richard ? I asked, Who the heck is Richard? Silvia paused and then responded “He is one of the new owners of Foreign Trade”. I was a bit surprised and asked, “When? How? What happened? This led to a discussion about just how much our industry is changing. Silvia pointed out that enrollments had steadily declined since the passage of SB899. She added that ironically her school was receiving calls from the shipping companies based out of the San Pedro and Long Beach shipping terminals, but had few graduating students to offer.
Our conversation eventually headed back to new owners and their plans given the state of our industry. Silvia said let me have them talk to you about their future plans and with that we left the restaurant and met back at the school. At the school I was introduced to Richard Friedberg the new owner of FTI. He introduced me to Revina Miller, the newly assigned Corporate Vice President for FTI. We met and they outlined their thoughts and future plans for FTI. They outlined their plans for providing training to Vocational Rehab and Voucher students, Title IV Funding, Workforce Investment Act (WIA), private Online Educational courses and tapping into Financial Aid. Both Richard and Revina possessed a visible sense of confidence about their seeming optimistic and ambitious agenda. We concluded our meeting and I departed.
While I was driving back to my office, I felt a bit sad about the changes over at FTI. I resolved to examine this feeling and concluded that it had to do with the fact that we have dedicated so much time and energy to what is now vanishing industry. I concluded that for most of us, we’ve managed to cling to this industry despite the fact that it is time to diversify and move onto new areas of business. The changes at FTI made me realize and focus on the need for Vocational Counselors to reinvent themselves and diversify their services.
The fact that Richard and Revina are new to this industry is certainly a major plus. Their fresh perspective, ambitious agenda and unbridled optimism will certainly serve them well. I wish Richard, Revina and FTI much success during 2006.