The Skills Exchange,  as a corporation,  was designed by M2A.  Skilled
workers   in  the  Movement  got  together  during  the  1979  Planning
Convention and set up study  groups  for  the  design  of  the  Skills
Exchange.  In  this  work they were members of the economic subsystem.
The Skills Exchange was one of the first major investments by M2A.

The Skills Exchange did not start small.  The first involvement was in
development.  When they went into operation,  they were fully equipped
with computer and competency tests for a large number of  skills.  The
number of skills continued to increase.

The  many  local  Skills Exchanges were organized into an association.
the National Skills Exchange Association.  The Association facilitated
the communication, cooperation and coordination between the many local
Skills Exchanges.

Initially,  there was insufficient  monies  for  M2A  to  back  Skills
Exchanges in all communities.  They started in a few communities,  and
quickly expanded as the concept proved  itself  and  study  groups  in
other areas could benefit from their experience.

The  skills  ranged  from  manual  labor  to  high  level research and
consulting.  All repair  skills  were  included,  as  well  as  office
skills.   Dog  training,  photography,  landscaping,  bicycle  repair,
tutoring, home construction skills,  baby sitting,  machinist,  welder,
etc.  Almost all skills were potential skills for the Skills Exchange.

A  fine-grained  categorization  of skills was constructed in terms of
sub-skills involved.  Competency tests for each skill  were  developed
and  tested.  There  were  four  grades of performance for each skill:
Master, Artisan, Skilled and Apprentice.

The wages for each member and the rate charged each customer  depended
on  the  grade  of  work  desired  by the customer.  The master worker
received more than the apprentice.  Thus,  for each  job,  there  were
potentially four estimates, depending on the grade of work desired.

Each working member of the Skills Exchange had the option of receiving
work  requested at his/er tested grade or any grade lower.  Thus,  the
more highly skilled workers would not be  competing  with  the  lesser
skilled  whose  services  would  be at less cost.  The worker would be
paid the wage at the grade requested by  the  customer,  even  if  the
worker tested at a higher grade.  The customer was not informed of the
grade level of the worker.

By  further education and training,  often provided through the Skills
Exchange, a member could improve his/er grade.  A member could take an
evaluation of competency any time.  Each members file contained his/er
grade level for all skills tested.

Every  qualified member of the Skills Exchange specified the number of
hours per month they wished to work.  As requests for work came to the
Exchange,  the work was distributed among  all  members  qualified  to
perform the work so as to maintain the same percent of requested work-
time for all these members.  This selection was done by computer.

In many areas, particularly after the Skills Exchange became known to
the  public,  members  were able to work their requested work-time and
there was often a waiting time.  In a few areas,  the actual work-time
was less than the requested time.

If a member was listed with more than one skill, s/he  requested  work-
time for each skill, and they were treated independently.

Through  the Skills Exchange,  a member could have a secure half-time
or quarter-time job,  which was  very  hard  to  find  in  the  normal
economy.  This  system permitted many Mission 2000 Movement members to
devote more time to other Movement activities,  if they  desired.  The
Skills  Exchange  was  used  by many full-time workers in the existing
economy to supplement their income.

Many Exchange members used  their  own  tools  and  equipment.  Others
pooled their tools to reduce cost,  and to serve members who wished to
work part-time,  where an investment for tools would  be  too  costly.
Tool  maintenance,  repair  and  even design and construction of tools
were internal  skills  used  by  the  Exchange.  All  workers  in  the
Exchange respected tools.

A  standardized rate for each job was established,  which could differ
between geographical areas.  Estimates were given to  customers,  with
plus  or  minus  10 percent variation to be acceptable.  The Exchange
made the estimate for the job  and  selected  a  member  qualified  to
perform the job.  A member could refuse any job without penalty.

Fair  and  reasonable  rates  for  each  job  were set after a careful
analysis of the economic situation of the community.  The  rates  were
periodically  adjusted,  but  there was no fear that the members would
act as an old-time union and once they were organized, raise the rates
for their services.  This  was  because  Exchange  members  were  also
Exchange customers.  However,  a small discount was given to Movement

Work done through the Skills Exchange was  guaranteed.  All  completed
work  was  evaluated  by  the  Exchange.  If  the  work  was not up to
specified quality,  the worker would be asked to improve upon  it,  or
another worker would improve it. (at no extra charge to the customer).
All  work  performed by a member,  and the report of the evaluation of
each job was recorded in the member’s file.


This system was not objected to by the  competent  worker.  They  were
proud  of  their  skills.  They  were  confident they could do quality
work,  and they wanted to know when they made a mistake.  They  wanted
to  improve  their  skills,  and  they could only do this if they were
aware of where they needed improvement.  They wanted a record of their
accomplished work.  the workers were  themselves  in  control  of  the
standards set for work and of the evaluation system.

The competency tests were considered very fair by most of the Exchange
members,  because  workers  participated  in  the design of the tests.
Master workers, as selected by their colleagues assisted psychologists
in designing the competency tests,  which  were  then  evaluated  with
other workers and revised.

Every  member of the Skills Exchange was free to take work outside the
Exchange and charge what s/he wished.  In these cases  there  were  no
estimates or guarantees provided by the Exchange.  This provision made
it  possible  for  workers who were in a small business for themselves
before the Skills Exchange was established to continue to serve  their
regular customers.  However,  no worker could advertise their grade of
competency as determined by the Exchange and remain a  member  of  the

The Exchange employed skilled counselors and computers.  The counselor
was a member of the Exchange,  trained to use the computer and trained
in the art of skills counseling.

For simple jobs,  customers could phone in their request.  They  could
then simply request the grade of work desired and,  if the job was for
less than $10.00 — the worker would come without a prior  estimation.
For  all  work “estimated” at over $10.00,  an estimate was required.
All work was evaluated.

For more  complex  jobs,  a  skills  counselor  would  meet  with  the
customer,  often  at  the  site of the job,  make an estimate and then
select a member to do the work  through  the  computer.  The  computer
made  the  actual  selection,  given  the  specification of the skills
needed for the job and the grade of worker requested.  From all  those
qualified members selected by this process,  the computer selected from
those with minimum percent  of  requested  work-time  used  by  random
selection.  The  name  and  relevant  data  on the worker selected was
received by the skills counselor,  who contacted the worker  and  made
arrangements for the job to be performed.

At  first  the Skills Exchange was used by Movement members only.  As
the quality of work at a fair price became known,  people  other  than
Movement  members  began  to use the Skills Exchange.  A member of the
Exchange did not have to be a member of the Movement,  but they had to
agree  to  the procedures of the Exchange.  Not only individuals,  but
many businesses were customers of the Skills Eschange. Business from
businesses increased rapidly as businesses discovered the quality
and savings they could make using  the  Skills  Exchange.  However,  a
business was not permitted to fire employees and replace them by labor
from  the  Exchange.  The  Exchange refused to serve the businesses in
these cases.

One very significant skill offered by the Exchange was training in the
various skills.  Through this,  members could up-grade  their  skills.
Some  customers  wished  to  learn  a  skill  and would be assisted by
members who would,  for example,  help them learn  to  repair  a  home

The  Skills  Exchange  became  an  employment  agency for the existing
economy.  As the reputation of the Exchange grew,  businesses went  to
the Skills Exchange when they needed full-time competent workers.  All
members  of  the Exchange,  qualified — as by the computer — for the
position were notified.  They were free to seek this position if  they
desired.  They could continue to work with the Exchange, as well.

Skills  Exchanges  were organized in most communities.  They shared in
the task of developing the detailed category  of  skills  and  in  the
development  of  competency  tests.  Different  Skills Exchanges would
assume different tasks,  and then shared  their  work.  However,  each
Skills  Exchange  could  modify  the competency tests if they desired.
Few did,  and there was an easy translation  of  competencies  between
Skills  Exchanges  for  members  who would move.  The different Skills
Exchanges used the same computer program,  and  many  time-shared  the
same computer.

If  there  was  a  shortage of a specific type of skilled worker in an
area,  other Skills Exchanges would be  contacted,  and  some  workers
would  transfer  for  a period.  At times,  a shortage of a particular
skill was remedied by the Exchange training people in these skills.

As a profit-making corporation,  the Skills Exchange received  payment
for  all  of  its services.  The competency tests were the property of
the National Skills Exchange Association  (those  who  developed  them
were paid for their work) and were also sold to businesses.  (In 1983,
the  Association  won  a  large  court  suit  against  a   few   large
corporations   who   were   using   the   competency   tests   without
authorization).  As an employment agency,  the Skills Exchange charged
the employer a fee.  The exchange received a small percent of all work
performed by members through the Exchange.

The  Exchange  had its costs.  It employed people.  Computer operators
and programmers,  skills counselors,  the people who administered  and
scored  the  competency  tests,  the  job evaluators,  etc.  All these
employees were  also  members  of  the  Skills  Exchange.  The  Skills
Exchange  used  its  own system to find its own employees.  The Skills
Exchange provided  excellent  employment  benefits  for  its  members,
including part-time workers.

As a profit-making corporation,  the Skills Exchange offered shares of
its stock to its  members.  As  a  rapidly  growing  corporation,  the
Skills Exchange provided excellent dividends.  No one got wealthy as a
member  of  a  Skills  Exchange,  but  they  did find a secure working
position during the social transition,  and they were contributing  to
the Movement.

The  Skills  Exchange  would have been possible in the 1970s.  Indeed,
except for the efficiency of the computer and the state of the art  of
competency  testing,  the  Skills  Exchange  would  have been possible
hundreds of years ago.

Earlier forms of a Skills Exchange could be found  where  skills  were
bartered.  You  do  something  for me and I will do something for you.
The Skills Exchange just systematized this process.

A problem with earlier forms of skills exchanges was that there was no
assurance of the quality of work.  The competence of  the  independent
skilled worker was always questioned,  and most people purchased their
skilled work  from  “established”  or  “name”  businesses  which  they
“trusted”.  However,  in the 1970s,  with most workers in the existing
economy frustrated,  the quality of work from “trusted businesses” was
also  suspect.  The economic system was ready for the emergence of the
Skills Exchange.

Organized Skills Exchanges did not emerge earlier because the  skilled
worker  was  kept  divided both by their unions and by their places of
employment.  They did not have the organizational skills  required  to
establish  a Skills Exchange,  and were made to believe that they were
unable to develop these skills.

Also, it would have been difficult for a Skills Exchange to start very
slow (offering only one or two specialized skills)  on  a  shoe-string
budget.   The  financing  by  M2A  of  the  development  of  a  fairly
comprehensive Skills Exchange brought  it  beyond  the  threshold  for
public  awareness and acceptance.  The developmental work did not have
to be repeated for each local Exchange.  Thus,  spread across all  the
Exchanges in the nation, the net cost of development was minimal.

People  are  employed  within an economy because of their skills.  The
Skills Exchange was  an  experimental  model  for  a  segment  of  the
economic system of the future.  The functioning of the Skills Exchange
was  carefully  studied  by  the  long-range  planning program through
research  contracts  with  the  planning,   evaluation  and   research

The  National  Relations program worked with the Skills Exchange,  and
other components of the micro-economy, to minimize any negative impact
on the existing economic system.  According to the longer-range  goals
for  societal  metamorphosis,  it  was important that the growing
imaginal buds (e.g.,  the  Skills  Exchange)  would  not  disrupt  the
stability of the societal caterpillar.