Why buy equipment and ignore the skills?

I have given talks on skills all over the world and I use a particular slide frequently. On the left, there is a photo of an 11 year old and on the right a Stradivarius violin worth over $5 million. Then, I ask the audience a question – should our budding 11 year old musician learn to play on this valuable instrument? Plainly – no. So, why do we persist in undervaluing training on all sorts of expensive and ever more complex machinery in all sectors. Continue reading

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Aakash for access to skills

Aakash is a hindi word meaning “sky or “ether”. It is a word that will become better known. Now, it is the brand name for an Android-based tablet computer produced by the British company Datawind and manufactured by the India based company Quad.

Kalra, who heads a team at the Rajasthan Indian Institute of Technology sums up the potential. “Inside ten years we expect that everyone will have one. There will be children learning, farmers checking prices, pregnant women getting medical assistance – all through  the Aakash.”

Continue reading

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An interview with Dr Nahro Zagros about Skills needs in Kurdistan

Dr Nahro Zagros is from Kurdistan; he was born in the Kurdish Region in Northern Iraq. He left there in the troubles with Saddam and settled in Hull, UK in 2000 – a place that he calls a home from home. Last year, Nahro returned to live in Kurdistan and is now the Director of Curriculum and International Partnerships at Soran University. Rob Bell caught up with him in Hull last week.

Q1. Tell us about Kurdistan and what skills mean to the economy. Continue reading

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An interview with Huw Morris Jones on recruitment challenges

Huw Morris Jones is a Hull based businessman with a keen interest in careers development and skills. Founder of Quality Personnel over ten years ago, his company has supplied personnel to the core industries around the Humber and beyond. From Local Authorities to Smith & Nephews and Siemens; Quality team has worked closely to match the skills to the needs. With Morris Jones, the business is expanding into Financial Services and high level placement. And now, with QSG, the Group is moving into the International skills market.

Q1. What’s your role in the skills business? Continue reading

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The ILO Global Employment Trends (GET), 2012 paints a challenging picture

If 2011 was tough then, all commentators see 2012 as potentially worse. Mature markets are stagnating and are looking to little or no growth over the next few years; the Euro crisis does not help. Then, there are relatively fast growth economies like the BRICS or the CIVETS and others. Each market is different but, they share a common problem – skills. There is a serious global skills shortage in three areas: the skills to run core businesses; the skills to upgrade current performance and, the skills to “future proof” an industry or develop the workforce for a new one. For example, renewables. There are serious gender issues and, the formal economy is failing to match the informal or shadow economy as a generator of jobs.

The ILO Global Employment Trends (GET), 2012 has just been released [24/01/12] and it offers a useful insight into a serious challenge for the world economy. The Executive Summary is clear: after three years of continuous crisis there is a global skills shortfall of 200 million – and increase of 27 million since the start of the crisis. We will need to create 400 million new jobs in order to avoid a further increase in unemployment. Youth unemployment is worsening and, high numbers are dropping off the employment radar completely. Anyway, what did you think of the play Mrs Lincoln! The key points: Continue reading

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Books on Skills: The Principles of Scientific Management, F W Taylor (1911)

If it was Adam Smith’s pin factory in the Wealth of Nations (1776) that first highlighted skills specialisation it was F W Taylor who built this into a science with this book written in 1911. It started in Bethlehem; at the Steelworks.

Taylor had started his working career at Mid Vale Steelworks but, the principles would take real shape at the Bethlehem Steelworks, Philadelphia where he started work in 1898 to solve a serious capacity problem. in 1898. Over time, he observed and codified the scientific approach to shovelling; bricklaying; the inspection of bearings and the use of slide rules in a machine shop. This was the birth of time and motion studies; which had a major impact on American and then Soviet industry and, at the Steelworks, laid the foundations for high volume mass production. Continue reading

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Skills transform the TRIPLE bottom line

The great Brasilian photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, compiled a book of photographs featuring workers all over the world – Trabajadores. Vivid images of thousands of unskilled workers clambering up the side of an open mine, others tethering flimsy bamboo scaffolding to the sides of iconic skyscrapers and chain gangs moving materials by hand bring home an image of people as a dispensible resource.

Low pay, poor conditions, antique equipment all conspire to hold productivity in a time warp in a misguided notion that a swarm of unskilled labour is a cheaper route to project completion. At root, the quick buck versus sustainable growth debate is all about skills … Continue reading

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Skills capacity to make things happen

On December 31st 1899 a millenarian cult set fire to their homes and possessions because their leaders were sure that the end of the world was on its way. Assured of certain certainties, they waited for apocalyptic collapse singing hymns as their local world went up in smoke.

Here and now as economies seem to talk themselves into a downturn even worse than we are in, we should be careful not to torch the one resource that can make an upturn sustainable – human resources and their skills. Continue reading

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The Leitch Review of Skills. Final Report, 2006

The final report of the Leitch Review of Skills, Prosperity for all in the global economy – world class skills, was published on 5th December 2006.

The Review sets out a compelling vision for the UK. It shows that the UK must urgently raise achievements at all levels of skills and recommends that it commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020, benchmarked against the upper quartile of the OECD. This means doubling attainment at most levels of skill. Responsibility for achieving ambitions must be shared between Government, employers and individuals.

 

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Isn’t Android a great tool?

Writing this post from the Android WordPress app. Easy to do and the app is free! 🙂

There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills. Kindle is an example of working backward. Jeff Bezos

Being more serious, there are already PC based solutions to remove the files of paperwork that trainers need to manage. Before long, I can see Smartphones taking over. They are already powerful enough, we just need better batteries, a bit more storage capability (for those times when internet access isn’t available!). Much more portable than a PC, even a tablet. You could even carry training resources that could be fired to the trainees phone …

Fascinating to think what is possible now and what could be next year or the year after.

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