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News in Brief: Motor-mouths lose out at interview

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Catch up on the week in HR including why employers are turned off by chatter boxes, reaction to the government’s further education White Paper, PC industry leads fight to save HCI and job cuts at Learning and Skills Council sparks industrial unrest.

W/C 27/3/06

Ministers turn to driving up skills
Further education colleges must focus on the needs of employers and equip students with sufficient skills to succeed in the workplace, the government urged today.

Unveiling the further education White Paper this morning, education minister Ruth Kelly committed to tackling the chronic skills shortages suffered by businesses.

The announcement follows two reports published last year which were both critical of the UK's further education system.

In November, Sir Andrew Foster said one in ten colleges were failing, while an investigation into skills by Lord Leitch showed the UK ranked 24th out of 29 developed nations in terms of young people staying in education beyond age 16.

For more on this story see: AccountingWEB

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Businesses demand skills and education overhaul
Businesses are calling for a major overhaul of how workforce development is funded in order to create more skilled staff.

The report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that UK firms are dissatisfied with the way government subsidies are allocated.

The study recommends that training providers other than colleges are included in the funding scheme. It says that independent skills instructors are better able to work with business to produce flexible, specific training.

For more on this story see:
TrainingZONE

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Job cuts at Learning and Skills Council sparks industrial unrest
The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is risking possible industrial action over intentions to slash its workforce by more than a third.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are responding to the LSC’s plans to cut 1,120 jobs by June 2006 by sending over 2,000 ballot papers to its members.

The union claims that a one-day strike would seriously upset the government’s skills agenda.

Condemning the LSC for choosing not to retrain staff, but to use assessment centres to determine who they will make redundant, Mark Serwotka, general secretary of PCS, said:

"The manner in which the LSC is approaching [this] is ill thought out, chaotic and unacceptable and will damage the delivery of vocational courses, apprenticeships and adult learning in England."

The ballot closes on 7 April 2006.
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Web misuse at work levels off
In contrast to all the virus scares and phishing scams of recent years, the DTI's 2006 security breaches survey found that employee misuse of email and the web has levelled off in the past two years.

In the third digest of findings released from the survey in recent weeks, PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers found misuse occurred at 17% of the 1,000 companies surveyed for this year's study – the same proportion as in the 2004 survey.

The 2006 study found that 97% of companies now have an Internet, 88% of which are broadband. Near universal access means that the temptation to send unacceptable personal emails or access inappropriate websites is just a click away, but nearly two-thirds of companies (63%) have an internet acceptable use policy.

According to PwC's analysis, this represents a big improvement on 2004, when only two out of five companies had such a policy.

For more on this story see: AccountingWEB

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PC industry leads fight to save HCI
Following the shock announcement in last week's budget that the Home Computer Initiative would cease from 6 April, the HCI Alliance has co-ordinated an online petition calling for the scheme to be reinstated.

The scheme, which allows employers to loan PCs to their employees without incurring a liability for the benefit in kind, was put on notice of termination in HMRC's Budget Note BN 30.

The Save HCI website set up by specialist supplier BizzApp noted that the reform wasn't mentioned by Gordon Brown in his budget speech, "but was buried in the hundreds of pages of small print that accompanies each budget statement".

For more on this story see: AccountingWEB

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’People are our most important asset’ is hollow statement
Over half of employees working in large organisations do not feel they are the most important part of their company while nearly two in three employees in medium-sized organisations feel the same.

These are the findings according to skills management expert InfoBasis.

“Sadly, what we’re seeing through this research highlights that corporate clichés are set to remain just that,” said Ashley Wheaton, CEO of InfoBasis.

“While some organisations merely pay lip service to employee development, others genuinely believe they are treating their people as their most important asset. And yet, they simply don’t have the tools in place to help staff to perform to the best of their ability.”

He added: “Until organisations are willing to invest in people according to both individual needs and the skills which will have a direct impact on the business, a large number of workers will remain unsatisfied. Business leaders need to show they value their staff through both words and actions.”

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Motor-mouths lose out at interview
Talking too much is the biggest ‘turn off’ for employers at interviews, according to a recent survey by Portfolio Payroll.

The top tend employer ‘turn offs’ include:

1. Talking too much
2. Inappropriate appearance/presentation
3. Lack of preparation or research
4. Not enough experience/skills
5. Poor body language
6. Lack of enthusiasm
7. Not substantive or constructive answers
8. Bad attitude and approach
9. Overly negative about previous employment
10. Bizarre questions and over familiar

And it looks as though employers are making up their minds within minutes. Thirty-two per cent admitted that first impressions count, while 31% don’t make a decision until the close of the interview.

More news in brief including insight into how poor health is hitting UK productivity.

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Annie Hayes

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