FE Teachers required to spend time in industry every year under new proposals…

Teachers would be required to “spend time in industry every year” to refresh their skills and experience and identify skills gaps, under proposals from the Labour party.

The plans are part of Labour’s ‘One Nation Skills Taskforce Interim Report: Driving up standards in further education colleges’, which are designed to match business needs with skills development.

All new FE teachers would also be required to have at least Level 2 (GCSE A*- C) English and maths qualifications.

The Skills Taskforce, chaired by professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, identified major problems in the UK’s existing skills system such as low levels of employer involvement, a lack of high quality apprenticeships and poor careers advice for making the transition between education and work. 

“Skills matter,” said Husbands. “The 21st century will make enormous demands on levels of skill as economies change. We must get our skills policy and our skills infrastructure right if we are to prepare our economy for the future. But more than this, getting skills right matters for workers and citizens too.”

Stephen Twigg, shadow education secretary, said: “While some colleges do a brilliant job, we are unapologetic in seeking higher standards in vocational education and training. We would be relentless in driving up the quality of teaching in FE, particularly in English and maths, where we would expect all college teachers to have a minimum of Level 2, the equivalent of GCSE A*- C.”

He said that the current government had failed to ensure that young people have high quality vocational options and are unable to gain the skills they need.

In April the government announced it would launch a new technical baccalaureate, starting next year, to put vocational education on a par with A Levels.

But the Department for Education said that the TechBacc is not a qualification, instead describing it as “a performance measure marking achievement by young people aged 16 to 19”.

At the time skills minister Matthew Hancock said that TechBaccs “will incentivise the development of high quality courses and incentivise schools and colleges to offer the courses that get young people on in life”.

RIP Zig Ziglar

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

In fond memory of one of the greatest sales motivators known to humanity – Zig Ziglar – who died last Wednesday (28th November, 2012) of Pneumonia- R.I.P.

Why recruiting looks so easy!

I can’t take credence for this blog – the credit goes to Miles Jennings! I agree with him though of course…..

There is an absolutely wonderful children’s book called 20 Heartbeats about a painter who paints a horse for a very wealthy man. I hate to ruin it for you, but I have to say what happens.

The rich man pays this famous painter to paint his favourite horse. But years go by and the painter won’t finish the painting. The rich man finally shows up at the painter’s house and demands the painting. The painter obligingly whips out a piece of parchment, dashes off a horse in black ink with his brush, and then hands the painting to the rich man. All this takes less than the time of 20 heartbeats.

The rich man is, of course, aghast. He storms after the painter to demand his money back. However, as he walks after the painter, he sees what has been taking so long.

All along the walls are hundreds and hundreds of painted horses. The painter wasn’t procrastinating, he was practicing. The rich man then finally takes a look at the painting that he purchased so long ago, now in his hands. It’s a perfect horse, a horse so real that he whistles to it.

As every art form takes discipline and practice to look easy, every kind of work takes years of diligence to perfect. Recruiting is no different, but few professions look so simple. It’s really hard to pass along a piece of paper, right? You can almost hear hiring managers thinking to themselves, “Yeah, I’ll bet your fingers are really tired from dragging all those resumes from a folder into an email. Real hard work.” Few jobs seem so easy to duplicate.

The end product of recruiting, for one thing, is someone else’s work – it is someone else’s talent, ability to interview, and everything else they have that gets them hired – that is the end product of the recruiter’s process. It’s hard to pinpoint the recruiter’s exact role in this pseudo-science. Did they identify the talent? Spot them? Find them? Assess them? Understand the job? The culture? Have the right database? The right connections? The right insight into the department or hiring manager psychology? Did they make a lot of calls or know some secret strings to search for in Google? It’s hard to say what it is exactly that the recruiter does and so it’s easy to discount the recruiter’s role entirely.

However, we might be looking at it wrong. A recruiter’s value can’t be found within the process of a single hire. It can’t be found in that space that sometimes spans twenty heartbeats between talking to a manager about a job to the identification of a possible talent.

You have to look at everything that comes before that identification to see the value of a good recruiter. A great recruiter creates the conditions for that magic luck to strike. They don’t talk to a lot of different people. They talk to everyone. They don’t want to know their clients or their company’s competitors. They want to know everything that’s happening at every company in their area. It’s a massive amount of work that requires constant rejection, failure, stress, and is compounded by the minutiae of job offers and the uncertainty of human emotion.

That’s why very few succeed at recruiting. It’s not like there is anything special about that one placement. There is nothing about identifying a candidate and getting them a job offer that requires any particular kind of magic, or even a college degree for that matter. Unlike a beautiful painting, anyone or any recruiter can luck out and make a placement or two. But the background required for long-term recruiting success is much different. It involves the deep study of companies, products, markets, assessment, and professions coupled with a kind of brute force stamina to doggedly pursue the talents of other people. This is the process that forges the recruiter’s talent. This talent, when functioning at its best, is rare to find.

Gary Hamel on management!

A quick view to relay from the CIPD’s newsletter:

Gary Hamel, the world’s most influential business thinker according to the Wall Street Journal, told delegates at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s annual conference today (Nov, 2012) that ‘management is a busted flush’ and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up. Bureaucracy must die, he said, because if you don’t kill it, it will kill your organisation.

Mr Hamel told the audience that HR has more responsibility for improving competitiveness and productivity than any other profession and needs to be as experimental as marketing and R&D departments. He urged HR professionals to challenge old beliefs about management and leadership and rethink core principles. ‘Management 1.0′, as he called it, was developed to create stability, precision and control. He argued that organisations who want to thrive in today’s world instead need to give employees freedom to innovate. He explored how ‘management 2.0′ should draw on some of the key tenets of the world wide web, including disaggregation, the power of communities and the creation of natural hierarchies.

Young Londoners to work for their benefits

Slave labour or genuine attempt to give young people work experience?

Yesterday it was announced by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Employment Minister Chris Grayling that under a new scheme, young Londoners who have not previously completed six months of paid employment must undertake 30 hours of work experience a week over a 13-week period, in a wide range of sectors including charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. In addition, they will undergo 10 hours of intensive job search training with DWP (Department for Work & Pensions) practitioners.

This scheme comes after the controversy over another scheme that obliged job-seekers to undertake work experience which led to accusations of labour exploitation by large high street retailers. A DWP spokesperson notes that this scheme is different to others (ie the one stated above) for specifically targeting “a very disadvantaged group, [who] have no experience of the world of work”.

My concern is that again we are missing the point and the reason people aren’t work fit is down to education and the lack of work preparation by teachers.

I have introduced this blog today in advance of me talking about the lack of engineers and technicians. In my next blog I will discuss how our economy is likely to keep shrinking as year on year UK companies are finding it ever harder to recruit quality engineers. The stats show that over half (58%) of companies wish to recruit over the next 12 months but there just aren’t the engineers available.

So rather than a reactive approach by Boris & Grayling in shoving young Londoners into voluntary service roles, why don’t the Government support the training of engineers and introduce the career paths within engineering to the academic syllabus at an early stage – maybe jobs can be filled and growth can be a real possibility !!! – isn’t this what the country needs ???

Let’s get properly into my passion (engineering) next time ……

Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain !!

It’s official!

Listening to nonstop negativity is bad for your brain – it actually impairs brain function!

Neuroscientists have learned how to measure brain activity when it’s faced with various stimuli, including a long gripe session. It appears that the brain works more like a muscle than we thought – If you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way as well.

Even worse – if you’re exposed to too much complaining, it will actually make you dumb!

Detailed research shows that exposure to just 30 minutes or more of negativity (including such material on TV) actually peels away neurons in the brains hippocampus, which is the part of the brain required for problem solving – in short, it turns your brain to mush!

From a psychology perspective, someone who is complaining in a negative manner about something (whether it is at work or in the home) is not looking for a solution to the problem they are whinging about, they simply want you to join in the indignity of the situation. So a conversation that starts with, “Isn’t it terrible?” is just an excuse for negative whinging and the participants brains are under attack – even if you’re just listening in passively. The problem is that if you try to change the behaviour of the miserable negative excuse for a human – you will likely become the target of the complaint!!

So how do we deal with this? We all come across such miserable people – sometimes more often than we like!

There are three suggestions:

  1. Get some distance! – ie run for it. This gives you ample reason for going to the shed to fix that problem you always wanted to fix, or to watch that prerecorded episode of ‘desperate housewives’ you always wanted to catch up on, or to just run out of the building screaming! You can blame your sudden actions on Professor this of that University and that you are protecting the very fibres of your being.
  2. Ask the complainer to fix the problem! – Now this may be the only obvious solution to prevent the complaint turning into a monster row by you just running from the room. We’ve said before though that this can backfire and you become the centre of the complaint! You may be lucky though and the complainer walks off huffily and maybe even tries to solve the problem!
  3. But by far the best idea is to put Shields Up! – When you’re trapped listening to Mr or Mrs Gripe, save your neurons by zoning out! We all do it from time to time. Just disappear off into your own world (sandy beaches, driving with the roof down, anything) just remember to nod and agree at various useful points of the tirade and sympathise to Gripey’s predicament.

So there we have it! Negativity is officially bad for your brain.

I’ve slanted these responses to the negative tirades witnessed in the average home but it’s a very real problem in the workplace. Many times, bosses and colleagues, end up in such pointless situations. Problem solving is of course a vital aspect of business, but we’re referring to negative whinging with no desire for problem solving. Sadly in this litigious world, you can’t just sack a whinger, but recognising a virus at least gives you ground to initiate the necessary changes – and changes need to be made – otherwise your workforce will all have mush for brains and who’s going to lead the ship then?

Back to the home however and if your actions get you into trouble “for not caring about the particular issue of the moment”, refer the whinger to this blog and tell them you’re only acting that way to save yourself – pretty darn watertight argument if you ask me!

I hope that makes a welcome change for this August Bank Holiday….Enjoy!

The Global Economy & importance of languages

I’m sure that everyone’s eyes are wide open to the reality of the global economy. Any individual or business should be fully cognisant of the skills and knowledge they need about the different cultures and markets that are now a part of the global economic infrastructure.

To truly embrace this new economic map, we need to level the playing field though. My business is all about creating efficiencies within companies and providing the correct level of expertise in the right roles. As a proud Brit, I am disheartened with the island mentality that still pervades a large percentage of individuals. I am delighted by the multicultural make-up of Great Britain and our island is all the better for it. I love the myriad of cultures which are apparent in our food and sewn into every layer of society. I do however dismay at our language capabilities. We are dependant on people speaking English and therefore miss the opportunity that multi-linguists have in gaining true understanding of cultural nuance.

The economy requires cross boundary respect and Europe and North America are now dependant and integral parts of the Middle-Eastern, Chinese, Indian, African, Russian, South American and Asia-Pacific economic infastructure. Yes it is vital there is a common business language everyone can utilise (and this has been long established as English) but the english speakers should be able to communicate in other tongues.

It comes down to education, education, education!

It is never too late to gain understanding and ability in languages and I believe children and adults should be encouraged to develop linguistic skills. Children should have three to four languages in their portfolio and adults should be given assistance by employers to gain at least basic language skills, particularly where their companies have export sales.

We’ll talk more about the international marketplace and how technologies and business ethics need to become synergous in forthcoming blogs but the importance of language skills is a basic foundation upon which the global economic infrastructure is to be developed.

Though I’ve talked from a business economic perspective in this blog, I would ask readers simply to think about how they can improve their lives by gaining such basic language skills. When you go on holiday, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you spoke to the shopkeeper or restaurateur in their own language – from experience I can tell you that the experience is far more rewarding and enjoyable let alone less intimidating for all parties.

As all my blogs are meant – this is really to just raise discussion. Talk over dinner with your family (better than silence!) and explore the beauty of language – it’s fun too!

Have fun while you learn – Viel Spaß beim lernen – Amusez-vous tout en apprenant – Diviértete mientras aprendes – Buon divertimento mentre si impara – 玩得開心,而你學習 – मज़े जब तुम सीख – Весело провести время, вы узнаете, – Bavte se zároveň se naučíte

Sorry I couldn’t translate to every language – have fun though! Catch you soon….


Digital Technology Skills

It may be clear to my wonderful readers that I’m not a specialist when it comes to digital technology – I’m trying – oh am I trying!!! But there’s a consideration to behold in such a simple admission.

Many of my fellow late 30′s upwards (I’m 40 in six months) will probably sympathise with me (if they’re honest) when I admit that my technical computer skills are adequate to orienteer the modern world but when I compare them to our young talent – I’m just woefully slow and persistently behind the times (if anything goes wrong – just ask a youngster!).

We now live in a world without secretaries and have to perform most of our administrative tasks by ourselves (particularly for SME business owners such as I). This is a good thing in many ways of course but has certainly limited the scope for adminstrative jobs and in many ways (as previously stated) has slowed down our productivity.

What is being missed however is the point of my blog today.

Of the pool of currently unemployed young talent (amounting to around 1 million at present in the UK) there could be a digital skills capacity worth up to £6.7bn to British Industry. Now that’s a lot of business being missed!

Digital skills are being considered on a par with new business development and customer acquisition in terms of skills that companies would like to acquire. A study states that 21% of growth over the next 3 years will come through digital channels and unsuprisingly 77% of businesses acknowledge that young people have digital skills in abundance (what the other 23% think is mind boggling – maybe they don’t know whether they’re on Earth or Mars !!).

So what should my young readers and parents of young talent read into this – well I don’t need to lead a horse to water now do I ? Young talent needs to be recognised, harnessed and managed. The economy is changing rapidly and worker skills are moving from one area to another. What our young talent lack in knowledge and experience, they can make up for in the utilisation of what they are good at. Remember when you’re next in an interview and they say – what experience do you have? – just reply with – the same amount as you had when you were my age!!! and then tell them why your digital skills and modern consumer experience is worth way more…

Watch out fellow oldies – the next generation are on their way!

Tough times never last, but tough people do ……

Working on Saturdays!!!

First a big thank-you to the many kind remarks made by viewers of these blogs – I appreciate your sentiments and am pleased a few of my words are being positively received.

Rather than a statistic laden blog on this Saturday afternoon I thought a comment would be well received (I hope you don’t find it too preachy!).

As the global economy struggles to correct itself after (in my personal opinion) a large number of rather unscrupulous and greedy global bankers put us in this predicament, I find myself (and a large number of fellow workers) having to work much longer hours to achieve the same results (hence the title – working on Saturdays!!!).

We all listened to the creators of email and the web saying that technology would make communication easier and more efficient and thus business could be done in less time hence freeing up more leisure time – I think we all agree that now we are so bombarded with communication, everything works slower than before (it’s similar to the boffins of the 30′s/40′s saying that the advent of nuclear will make energy production cheap and reliable and the end user would get almost free electricity!!!).

My point is that the average worker can only respond to the actions and creations of others and though we all have materially richer lives, we are experiencing a worsening work/life balance. Stress levels are up and people are expected to work far longer hours without additional pay (and for some, far less pay).

In the noise of the media led economic gloom, we should all stand back and appreciate the vital things in life – our families, our friends and our health. This weekend the British Olympic medalists are leading a ‘Join in Local Sport’ campaign with a drive to get the nation healthy and find our next generation of talent. It’s a good opportunity to enjoy the rest of summer, enjoy being with friends and to getting a positive mental attitude for our lives. I would like to encourage everyone to bathe in the radiance of the post Olympic games goodwill and look to fair competition in work and play (ie no cheating and backstabbing) and to eradicate pointless greed and sloth.

The world will be a better and richer place if we look to achieve common goals, share, help and support each other. Fairness and honesty work well too. I can promise you that the utility of these simple ingredients in your lives creates a win/win environment – I believe there is no benefit in making an agreement with an individual or a business if a win/win result is unobtainable – and that’s the core to how I run all my personal and business affairs!

Work, Rest & Play – a perfect and balanced equation!

As Spock used to say – “Live long and prosper”.

You’re 18 – off to Uni or into work?

It’s ‘A’ Level results day and whilst everyone slaps each other on the back there’s maybe a more sobering consideration for your average 18 year old….

……Do I go to University and get saddled with up to £50k of debt which I’ll have to pay off for the rest of my life OR do I try to get into the workforce and develop myself vocationally!

Wowser – I actually feel sorry for them. When I went from school to University there were student grants and fees were paid for us. I still came out with a couple of grand of debt but that’s because i enjoyed myself during my ‘studies’. What’s more, upon completion, there were jobs and I could even afford to buy my first house at the age of 24 and start my way up the property ladder.

Young adults today haven’t got a hope where properties concerned and we all know the statistics for young unemployed. It’s a difficult decision therefore in deciding what an 18 (or 21/22) year old should do. Retirement is a long way off in the heads of the average aforementioned but how are they going to have a roof over their head (owned by yours truly) and resources to retire when they reach 65 (or will they have to be 70?!?).

Doom and gloom but this is reality for most. Self employment is one option but how are they going to get the skills, experience and knowledge demanded by potential clients?

We can provide a few answers for a select few but this is a large scale problem that the Government and education seem to be skirting.

The bottom line is that British (and global) businesses need to work hard to revitalise the economy and maybe a little more attention needs to be placed on supporting the creation and development of SME’s (and that’s internally as well as externally).

This is a mammoth topic but let’s get talking…..

Ps Positivity is STILL the answer

Social Media

Seventy-two percent of companies use social media in some way–usually
to gather insights, to market goods and services, and to serve
customers. Yet the McKinsey Global Institute finds that twice as much
potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, to
share knowledge, and to foster collaboration within and across
enterprises, which together can boost the productivity of knowledge
workers by 20 to 25 percent.
….food for thought!

The start of things!

Well. Rather than having just a bland screen telling you what i can do for you, I believe it’s time to share.

There are many things we can cooperate on but the most important element is to ensure that every post is constructive to the success of all individuals and organisations.

Give a little….gain a lot!

Let’s dance.