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Taskforce Launched to Create Essential Skills Framework
August 20, 2019
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Several organisations have come together to create the UK’s first universal framework for essential skills

The Essential Skills Taskforce, made up of the CIPD, The Careers & Enterprise Company, Business in the Community (BITC), the Gatsby Foundation, EY Foundation and the Skills Builder Partnership, aims to address employers’ growing need for a more rounded set of skills, such as critical thinking and creativity.

Due to launch in 2020, the framework will consist of a set of apps and online tools to provide candidates with a better idea of the skills required to succeed in a role, help employers hire the right people, and show what progression will look like for each different skill so employers can map out how to upskill or reskill workers.

The framework will also be geared towards making educators aware of the skills employers need so they can ensure students are well equipped to join the modern workforce.

Employers from a range of sectors will be consulted about the framework and it will go through several development stages. The final version is expected to be published in Spring 2020.

Chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Matthew Taylor called for a universal skills framework in his review of modern working practices in 2017.

He welcomed the creation of a new Essential Skills Taskforce: “With the nature of work continuing to evolve, it is challenging to predict exactly what technical abilities and skills will be needed in years to come. However, there’s growing recognition that the core skills, which are essentially human and behavioural, will be vital in almost all jobs and roles.”

He added: “The work of the taskforce is an important step towards achieving a common understanding of these essential skills from education right through to our workplaces. Establishing a framework and a common language for these skills is vital in creating the clarity we need to achieve more productive, high-performing workplaces that enable people whatever their backgrounds to feel engaged and empowered in their jobs.’’

John Holman, Emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of York and former STEM skills adviser to the government, will chair the Essential Skills Taskforce. He commented that despite the rise of automation at work, employees will still need specific skills that can’t be replicated by technology.

“If you ask employers what they are looking for in the people they hire, they increasingly specify essential skills like communication and teamwork. They take for granted that employees must have sound educational qualifications, and what makes the difference is the higher order essential skills which a machine cannot offer,” he said.

“By producing a universal framework of essential skills that are clear, measurable and authoritative, we will give employers a toolkit that they can use to select and train the employees they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. Equally importantly, it will be a toolkit that schools, colleges and universities can use to help the students develop these skills.”

News of the framework comes as students receive their exam results. Rachael Saunders, education director at BITC, said that some of the skills needed at work are frequently overlooked by the education system.

“While the knowledge that young people will gain through their studies is vital, essential skills such as teamwork, creativity, leadership and problem solving are in danger of being forgotten. These skills are valuable now and will remain vital in the future as a balanced focus between knowledge and skills directly links to the UK’s economic development and productivity,” she said.

“Employees and students must be supported to build the skills they need now for our changing world of work, and given access to learning that will equip them to develop the skills they need for the future.”

Saunders called on employers and educators to work together to address the skills challenge in the UK. “If businesses are looking for specific essential skills, they need to work with educators using a curriculum that’s relevant to modern life. This will ensure that businesses benefit from the workforce of the future having the skills they need while leading the way in providing good and fair employment opportunities to all, regardless of background,” she said.

How to Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary
August 20, 2019
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Hints & Tips for Your Clients

When you’re interviewing for jobs, there’s a lot of pressure to land an interview and get that final job offer.

You want something that will help you pursue your passions while also being able to meet your bills and spend a little extra money on fun activities.

The right job for you is out there, but what happens when a job offer is given with a salary that’s lower than what you were expecting?

It’s hard to realize that you can’t take a job because it pays too little, especially if it’s a job you really want to do. The good news is that there’s strategy behind working with the salary that’s initially offered with the job. You don’t necessarily have to take the first number that’s given, and most employers know that people are going to negotiate.

Not sure how to decline a job offer due to salary? Have you ever negotiated a pay raise before you’ve even been given the job? Read on to learn how to do just that without needing to shut down a future with the company you want to work for.

With the right strategy, you can get your future employer to raise your pay to what you believe you should earn, without having to give up the offer and look for employment elsewhere.

Negotiate With Facts

If you have a lengthy history in the job you’ve been offered or valuable experience that qualifies you for the job, it’s time to put that to good use. Look over your work history and figure out what points are most important to why you should be paid a higher salary.

Make a list of those experiences. Maybe you led a team to a major milestone at your old job, have years of experience in what you do or have valuable ideas and game plans that will make you an important player in office culture.

After you make that list, write down what you earn now. What would your salary be in your current or previous job that would be equal to the skills you bring to the workplace?

You can base that improved salary on the average pay for your position in your industry. An employer will be more willing to work with a competitive rate than an outrageous one.

You should also take into consideration what you’ll need to do to start your new job. Will you have to move, and how far would that move be?

On average, people who move in the US pay $2,300-$4,300 to relocate. If your potential employer has already said they can’t cover the cost of your move, mention that an increased salary will help get you there.

Know When to Stop

Decide your minimum salary as soon as you can. It should be higher than what you earned in your last position, competitive with similar roles in your industry and able to cover the cost of living where your new job should be. If your potential employer continually insists that they pay what’s below your minimum salary, it’s time to stop negotiating.

Sometimes when you stop negotiations, it gives your potential employer time to step back and reconsider how they’re willing to meet you in the middle to get you on board. This could end up being just what you need to squeeze those few extra dollars into your salary, or it could be when both parties realize that things aren’t going to work out.

Written by Productivity Theory

Response to Pearson Changes to BTEC Grading Criteria 2019
August 20, 2019
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Ofqual statement in relation to Pearson’s decision to change the grading criteria of some of its Level 1/2 awards.

Students will receive their Level 1/2 BTEC awards on Wednesday this week. These are new versions of qualifications that are being awarded for the first time this year.

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Pearson found during its awarding process that learners’ outcomes were significantly higher, and grading was more generous across the cohort, than it had predicted on the basis of students’ prior attainment. As a result, Pearson decided to make adjustments to most of its grading points.

Pearson made us aware of this situation and its response in early August. It is always challenging with new specifications to know precisely how the assessments will function and how students will perform on them. It is therefore regrettable that Pearson set out definitive grading points in its specification, and we have seen that changing these has led to understandable uncertainty and frustration.

Our priority is securing that appropriate standards are set, being fair to all students who have taken these qualifications this year, in previous years and in years to come. On the basis of the evidence we have seen, the action Pearson has taken to set standards has been appropriate at the overall, cohort level. However, the decision to publish grading points in their specification may have led some teachers and students to take different decisions than they might otherwise have done.

We understand that students, schools and colleges will be concerned about how these changes may impact them. If students or teachers have questions or concerns now, or after receiving their results, they should seek support from Pearson, which is providing information and advice.

There are significant lessons to be learned by all awarding organisations about the commitments they make in their specifications and associated materials, and how they communicate with schools and colleges when issues arise. We will be reflecting on these issues further after results are published.