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Annie Hayes



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News in Brief: DTI confirms illegality of rolled up holiday pay … continued


Education providers must improve partnership with business
Employers and education providers must form better partnerships to reduce the UK skills gap, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

President of the BCC, Bill Midgley said that further education (FE) organisations should be utilised more fully and effectively by business.

Janet Rogers, head of employee engagement at Preston College, underlined the “information gap” between education and industry.

Learning and Skills Council chairman, Christopher Banks, however, said that debated that the further education sector was beginning to work more closely with UK business.

The organisation has invested £10.4bn in learning programmes in the past few years. Just last week Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly launched a body aimed at improving FE standards.

Companies at risk from ‘the enemy within’
Despite one in ten firms falling prey to employee fraud, a small minority have plans in place to deal with it, according to new research from accountants Grant Thornton.

The report found that 12% of businesses have been a victim of employee fraud during the past 12 months, with the theft of stock or non-cash assets the most prevalent fraudulent activity.

A quarter of affected companies saw workers stealing cash while 11% lost out to payroll fraud – when a dishonest employee sets up false payroll details or retains the pay information of staff who have left the company.

But despite the frequency of workplace fraud, very few businesses had plans in place to prevent it or deal with the problem if it does occur.

Just 7% of the 500 firms polled had an employee fraud response programme in place, with a mere 15% running an anti-fraud policy.

For more on this story see: AccountingWEB

Non-white women face ‘double discrimination’
Black and Asian women are more likely to be out of work or have to settle for a job for which they are over qualified, new research reveals. Data from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows the unemployment rate for black and Asian females is 5.4% and 4.8%. This compares to just 2.9% among white women.

Despite having the same career aspirations and hopes for promotion as their white friends the TUC said ethnic minority women find it more difficult to get a job. Many end up having to accept a job below their skills levels.

Employers attitudes are also a problem, the union claimed. Research shows that whilst only 14% of white British women had been asked about plans to get married or have children, the figure rises to a fifth of Bangladeshi women, and around a quarter for black Caribbean women.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Faced with a double whammy of discrimination because of their gender and their colour, it’s no small wonder that true equality at work is still some years away.”

Government must pay to secure IT skills
The UK will face an IT ‘skills crunch’ by 2012 if the government does not offer employers incentives to train staff, a new report claims.

Tax and national insurance breaks for companies with staff on full-time IT training courses would reduce skills shortages, according to IT body Imis.

The UK is the only country in the Organisation for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that does not offer tax incentives to employers to develop their staff. It is at the bottom of the OECD league tables for workforce qualifications.

Imis claims that major government programmes will drain the market of IT skills, leading to a ‘skills crunch’ by 2012. Work on the Olympics, the NHS IT development and the country’s ID card system will make training new staff essential.

Hottest financial jobs market for six years
Financial sector vacancies are being filled faster than at any time since 2000, according to The Bloomfield Group.

In London it now takes just over eight and a half weeks between advertising a job and the new employee starting work, compared to 10 weeks in 2005 and 11.8 in March 2000.

Scotland has seen a large drop in recruitment time, with vacancies filled in 9.7 weeks, compared with 14.3 in 2001.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Joslin Rowe Associates, the group’s permanent recruitment business, said that market confidence and improved economic conditions were causing this trend.

Workers seek input on workplace design
A total of 87% of workers believe they should be more involved in the design and layout of their workplace.

The study conducted by TNS among 750 workers for construction recruitment firm Consensus forms part of a larger research project into workplace and the built environment.

Consensus managing director Martin Tyrrell explained: “With companies thinking more about staff health and wellbeing, it’s worth considering not just how staff are treated when they are working but how conducive the workplace is to comfort, productivity and low stress.

“Involving staff at the design or fit-out stage can create a real sense of ownership and pride, as well as diffusing the problems that can grow and fester when staff feel they are cramped or poorly sited at work.”

Shopping and holidays take priority over pension savings
One in five workers would prefer to spend spare cash on a shopping spree or a holiday then pay into a pension scheme.

This is according to latest research commissioned by Aon Consulting, a pension, benefits and HR consulting firm.
Infact pensions are seen by the vast majority as only slightly more important (4%) then spending on the latest gadgets (2%)

Paying off debts (42%) and paying into a savings account (29%) were the two most popular choices for UK employees, with putting money towards a holiday or shopping spree (20%) close behind.

Commenting on these results, Richard Cox, Client Relationship Director at Aon Consulting, said: “With only 4% of individuals putting their spare cash into a pension scheme, the survey highlights that funding retirement is incredibly low down in people’s list of priorities. Even amongst the 55-64 year age group nationally, only 7% would further invest in their pensions.”

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Annie Hayes


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