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Three Proven Ways to Boost Your Career Mojo
March 19, 2020
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An article in HRMagazine by Michael Brown.

Simple changes to organisational behaviours and attitudes will pay off

How much of your working week are you spending on things you think you should be doing, and doing them well? Write down your average percentage across a typical week.

I wonder how your answer compares with the average, which I have been researching through my training programmes over 20 years.

The average is a mere 40%. That means most people reckon they spend three days per week doing things they shouldn’t, or doing things they should be doing but doing them badly.

Quite how organisations survive on two days’ productivity per week is beyond me. But I’m a natural optimist, and believe that this figure can change for the better through some simple changes in behaviour and attitude. These three things will boost your career mojo more than any others.

First up, your biggest time waster: useless meetings. Poorly run, often irrelevant to you (but you got invited just in case), unfocused, and lacking ownership and clarity over who is going to do what.

They sap your energy, waste your time and cause frustration and poor morale, but for some reason we don’t do anything about it. Here are three things you can do to change all that:

  • Don’t attend meetings which don’t have an agenda. They will probably be the most badly run and unfocussed of all of them. Ask for an agenda, and if you’re told there is no agenda, say you can’t therefore assess whether it’s a good use of your time, and decline it.
  • Suggest to the meeting owner that they put a time limit on each item on the agenda, and then have someone call it when you have five minutes left. It’s amazing how this focuses the discussion.
  • Start each meeting with a review of the actions from the previous meeting. Once people realise that they are going to be asked to account for themselves it somehow raises their commitment to doing what they say they will.
  • Bonus item: finish every meeting with a review of how the meeting went, and how it could be improved next time. Funny how that seems to create a cycle of continuous improvement. It also allows people to give each other feedback; it might be a chance for the introverts (usually about half the people in the meeting) to say whether they felt listened to and included or not.

None of the above involves rocket science. Just plain common sense and a healthy dose of assertiveness.

Second on my list of mojo boosters is building trust with your key stakeholders. Trust levels in society are at an all-time low, and in the workplace this means collaboration becomes rarer and we find ourselves putting energy into covering our own back, defending our own territory and having a scarcity mindset as opposed to one of abundance.

The best way to build trust is to spend time with people. Get to know colleagues informally (away from the office is a good place to do it), and start to share more of the human factor with them.

Over time you start to uncover your shared interests, values and concerns, and can work towards helping each other to achieve them.

Finally, my third suggestion for making more good days at the office: negotiate more for yourself. Far too many people aren’t aware of some of the basic principles of negotiation, and this leaves them vulnerable when others negotiate with them (which is most of the time, as most transactions between two humans involve some element of negotiation). Here are some negotiation principles that lead you to not being on the wrong end of the deal quite so often:

  • Be ready to negotiate. When people ask you for something they don’t always expect you to say yes, and are ready to look at alternatives if you go about it the right way. So don’t think that doing what you’re asked to every time is what is expected.
  • Test people’s positions. When they ask for something, they often don’t really mean it. There is normally at least 20% ‘wiggle room’; to be had, so test whether there is.
  • Don’t give anything away for free. That way people will value it more, and you may find you get something back in return.
  • Insert ‘if’ into your response. “If I do that analysis for Friday can you do the slide deck?” Suddenly this is a two-way street and we are collaborating. This will improve our relationship, not weaken it.

I’m often amazed at people’s reactions when I suggest they make these changes. It’s as if the clouds have parted and the Sun has finally broken through.

To my mind they are nothing more than a statement of the obvious, but if they are not obvious to you (perhaps because you are so busy you have forgotten the basics) then I am confident they will make a real and sustainable difference to your workplace experience.

Michael Brown has been a business skills coach and trainer for more than 20 years and is author of My Job Isn’t Working!

Why Remote Work Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon
January 7, 2020
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BY JESSICA STEVENS—GLASSDOOR

A narrative has taken hold over the past few years that asserts that the future of work will be dominated by robots, AI programs, and other technological marvels that strip humans entirely away from the workplace. 

Despite all the hubbub being raised over certain new technologies, however, the future of work is increasingly going to be dominated by remote working, which is quickly taking hold around the globe thanks to the productive results it delivers to business owners.

Here’s why the future of work is remote, and why so many companies around the world are rushing to let their employees work from wherever works best for them.

REMOTE EMPLOYEES ARE SIMPLY MORE PRODUCTIVE

The biggest driver of the pivot to a remote workforce that’s currently underway in our market is that remote employees simply produce better results than their traditional counterparts. While many critics of remote working used to assert that letting employees work from home would drain them of their productive spirit, the past few years have produced conclusive evidence that employees who spend a bulk of their working hours outside of the office are vastly happier and more productive.

Recent research from Gallup, for instance, notes that those workers who spend about three to four days of the week working offsite are substantially more engaged in their jobs than traditional counterparts who are stuck behind desks all day. The logic behind this productivity boost is actually quite easy to understand; by giving workers more control over their personal lives and permitting them to schedule their work-life balance accordingly, companies are making them happier and more fulfilled as they enable Average Joes to become workplace superstars.

THE IOT IS MERGING WORKSPACES AND LIVING SPACES

As Jacob Morgan recently posited in his book The Future Of Work, the IoT is driving companies everywhere to produce products and services which cater directly to consumers while they’re still enjoying the comforts of the home. Smart thermostats, AI home assistants, and interconnected electric systems have made the modern household a “smart home,” which is why it’s so easy for most workers to plug directly into their workspace while they’re sitting in their kitchens.

Morgan accurately noted that companies everywhere simply have an easier time of finding talent that’s willing to work from home right now than ever before; the big data revolution and the rise of the ubiquitous IoT effectively created the gig economy we’re all so familiar with these days. Now, if a small business or a major corporation needs to rely on a select expert, they turn to the web and start searching for an independent freelancer who can get them the information they need at an affordable price.

THE ERA OF CONVENIENCE HAS ARRIVED

Thanks to the fact that more and more people are working remotely, consumers everywhere can say hello to a new era of convenience. With freelance workers and remote employees able to more precisely adjust their scheduling, customers will be able to find an expert on demand at any time of the day. While most businesses close their doors at 5 pm or shortly thereafter, the remote workforce is effectively always available. There will be some challenges to this, naturally; work-related stress may go upward, for instance, and employees who are working from home will need strict discipline to master work-life balance as the lines between the home and office get blurry.

Nonetheless, the benefits of the remote workforce mean that in the near future, we’ll likely see more leaders in a wide variety of industries embracing the concept, especially as automating technologies and cheaper software makes it easier for employees to accomplish great things from far away. Before remote working is universally accepted, however, business owners and everyday workers will need to come together to forge a new work style that accommodates the needs of a distributed workforce.

IMPLEMENTING A REMOTE WORK POLICY

Organizations looking to implement a remote work policy for their company should start with a few basic steps. First and foremost, make sure your workers are equipped with the three things they need to succeed: adequate technology, disciplinary excellence and clear instructions.

Make sure your workers have a laptop, tablet or desktop that can help them tackle their tasks, and consider investing in a company-wide software sponsorship program that lets them install important software directly to their personal devices so that they can use them for business, too.

Next, it’s imperative that you stress disciplinary excellence; workers at home don’t have a manager peering over their shoulder, so they have to act as their own boss and maintain a strict schedule to get things done. Don’t try to dictate every aspect of their lives–remote work is effective because it offers workers flexibility, after all. Nonetheless, be sure that you’re requesting regular status updates, and that you have a system in place to measure productivity.

Finally, never let your workers wander alone–make sure they have clear instructions and achievable milestones that guide them as they work from the comfort of their home. This is perhaps the most important step for you, as it’s where you’ll be demonstrating your leadership by giving concise, yet clear, instructions that can be carried out even if you’re not present to immediately answer questions.

Do this while placing faith in your remote workers, and your business will soon be a thriving, cutting-edge organization.


This article originally appeared on Glassdoor 

The Six Qualities That Will Get People Hired
December 4, 2019
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ARTICLE BY: Laura Holden, Communications Executive – Reed Online Ltd 

AUTOMATION, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MEAN THE WORLD OF WORK IS CHANGING RAPIDLY. GIVEN THE SPEED AND SCALE OF DISRUPTION THAT IS TAKING PLACE, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PEOPLE LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT?

We know from our work here at Prisoners of Conscience that as roles continue to evolve, those responsible for hiring are placing greater importance on transferable soft skills. They see them as assets that retain their value. This is why, in addition to our bursary fund which helps persecuted human rights defenders to requalify in the UK, we have also launched an employability panel that is designed to support the development of these important personal qualities.

Research backs this up. According to the latest 2020 Salary Guide from the recruitment consultancy, Robert Half, 57% of hiring managers give more weight to soft skills when making a hiring decision.

Victoria Sprott, international talent director at Robert Half, confirms: “Having the right technical skills and qualifications is essential, but it’s your soft skills that will set you apart from other jobseekers.”

We wanted to know more about which soft skills were deemed important, so we asked leading recruiters for their views. They told us that although there will be some variations depending on the role and sector someone is applying to, generally speaking, the following attributes are high in demand

1.Proactivity 

Proactivity – or what can also be described as “gumption” – was named by all the recruiters as a must.

“If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t wait to be told what to do, then it’s likely you’re ticking off one of the key attributes employers look for. Taking the initiative in work situations, such as leading a meeting or prioritising your to do list effectively, will show your boss that you’re able to work independently and unprompted”, says Laura Holden, Communications Executive at Reed Online Ltd.

2.Adaptability 

Another sought-after skill is the ability to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs of the organisation.

“It’s important that you’re able to adapt quickly and remain resilient to any changes that might occur within your department, or even just your daily tasks. Whether this involves helping out colleagues in other parts of the business, or being able to prioritise your workload to accommodate a new project – having a ‘can-do’ attitude will definitely put you in good stead with new employers,” says Reed’s Holden.

The team at Charity Job agrees. Their spokesperson highlighted how when you work in the charity sector you can spend every day with some of society’s most vulnerable people, which can take “a certain sort of drive”. “More often than not, you’re working with limited resources and funding. You need to think creatively to bring in funds and be adaptable if those goals aren’t met,” they said.

3.Communication

An article about soft skills would not be worth its salt if it didn’t mention communication skills. Indeed, all of the recruiters we spoke to said that effective communication was essential for any type of job.

“Hiring managers value excellent verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills in candidates as it allows them to successfully convey important information, ideas and opinions to stakeholders at all levels of the business,” says Sprott at Robert Half, before adding how “effective communication skills can strengthen business relationships and improve productivity and teamwork.”

Brian Dwane, managing director at Broadstone Resourcing, concurred, emphasising how even in roles that have traditionally been seen as a support function, the ability to communicate is critical.

“Accountancy used to be about sitting in an office and dealing with spreadsheets, but these days many accountancy roles are going down the business partnering route, which is about driving the organisation forward, liaising with others, and explaining complex financial information in a way that everyone within the business will understand, particularly those with no finance experience,” he said.

4. Business sense 

Business acumen is also a highly desired quality that employers look for in new recruits.

“Professionals with strong commercial awareness of the business environment, industry and market trends, who are able to recognise new opportunities and proactively leverage their insights to gain competitive advantage are sought after,” says Robert Half’s Sprott.

5. Empathy

Just as the world of work is changing quickly, so too are people’s career motivations.

“With things such as the climate crisis and mental health at the forefront of our daily lives, we want more from our jobs than just a pay cheque — we want purpose and passion, and we want to leave a positive imprint for the generations that come after us”, says the Charity Job spokesperson, adding how this means that being able to demonstrate tact and sensitivity towards colleagues and customers can pay dividends.

Broadstone Resourcing’s Dwane agrees. “Empathy is vital. A business isn’t just the numbers, or the products or the sales targets. It’s crucial that all employees can see a business for what it is – its people – which means having empathy for those you work with.”

6. Mindset matters 

Finally, businesses value a positive mindset. A person with the right mindset is seven times more valuable to their company than a regular employee, according to research by Reed.

“We get it – not everyone is a ‘glass half full’ kind of person – but being mindful of your wording, and trying to focus on the positives, will show any employer that you’re willing to look for the best outcome in situations,” confirms Reed Online’s Holden.

A positive mindset is certainly a quality that our bursary grantees demonstrate. The funding we provide allows these courageous.

Canada’s House of Commons Offers Defeated MPs up to $15K for Career Help
November 5, 2019
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As a UK General Election date has been announced no doubt some MP’s will lose their seat – and as a result will be looking for a new career. The following explains what support is available to their Canadian colleagues.

When Liberal Mark Holland lost his seat in 2011, he couldn’t get out of bed for days.

“It was absolutely devastating for me … Because it was my hometown, it felt personal. It felt like a personal rejection,” said the Ajax MP, who went on to be re-elected in 2015 and again on Monday.

“It’s like being in a car going 100 kilometres an hour and hitting a brick wall and everything stops.”

He credits the House of Commons’s transition program with helping him move on from his defeat. The program offers counselling and up to $15,000 to help defeated MPs transition from the House of Commons back to the civilian world.

It’s a program the nearly 50 incumbents who lost on Monday can access as they take stock of their defeats.

The taxpayer-funded package can be used to cover the cost of career transition services, job training or post-secondary education and some travel expenses, according to the members’ allowances and services manual.

Holland was first elected at the municipal level at age 23. He said he leaned on the transition program to dust off his resumé and get some retraining before eventually landing a job at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Having a service that helps folks make the transition back to a normal life — helps them get their resumé in shape, makes sure that their mental health is in a strong position and that they have the support they need to get reintegrated — is incredibly important,” he said.

For former MPs seeking career advice, the House of Commons offers the services of a third-party firm that provides one-on-one career coaching. MPs can use another career counselling firm as long as it’s cleared in advance.

In order to qualify for the transition fund, career transition programs have be started within 12 months of the general election. The fund also requires that ex-MPs submit certificates for career transition programs.

Liberal MP Mark Holland rises in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, June 3, 2016. Holland says he was devastated when he lost in 2011. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Defeated incumbents can also use the program’s cash to go back to school in Canada.

The MP handbook stipulates that, in order to qualify for transition program funding, ex-MPs must prove the training or education they’re seeking is in a field related to the work they intend to pursue. The institution also must be required by contract to provide on-the-job instruction, tutoring, training or supervision.

The manual lists teaching, law, accounting, engineering and the trades as examples of skills that could be subsidized.

As with the career transition programs, training programs have to start within 12 months of the end of the general election to qualify for funding, and proof of completion is required.

The money also can be used for travel. Members who are not re-elected are entitled to up to four economy-class round trips within Canada if they can prove they’re travelling to and from job interviews, education sessions or career transition sessions, or if they need to travel to Ottawa to sell their homes.

Transition program funds can also be used to pay for sundry services such as long-distance phone calls within Canada, stationery and office supplies, but the program requires receipts.

MPs often leave private-sector gigs

Holland says sceptics who baulk at the program’s price tag need to understand the sacrifice most MPs make by leaving promising careers to run for office.

“I think that nobody understands the pressures of somebody who steps forward and offers themselves to public service,” he said.

“Regardless of the partisan stripe, I have enormous regard for people who put themselves in that position and I think that it makes only good sense to make sure that they transition back to public life.”

MPs who do not seek re-election are also entitled to up to $15,000 in transition support to help re-establish themselves after leaving politics.

The money comes out of the House of Commons administration central budget.

Steps to Making Apprenticeships Work in a Small Business
October 29, 2019
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Many small businesses think they don’t have time or resources to support an apprentice, but in fact, taking one on can help grow your business, if it’s done in the right way. 

The following article is by Anthony Impey.

Anthony Impey

As a small business owner, I know only too well that there is never enough time.

The day-to-day necessities of running a business consume every waking hour, leaving little or no room to work on those projects that you would love to do but never quite find the time. Small businesses often give this reason for not hiring an apprentice.

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses earlier this year confirms that management time is one of the most significant challenges that small businesses have with engaging with apprenticeships, with nearly one in three businesses reporting this as an issue. Another survey three years ago painted a very similar picture.

Setting out what’s expected of the apprentice, and the need to balance earning with learning, is crucial to achieving a return on investment as soon as possible.

There are many small businesses that do champion apprenticeships, however, and report positive results for their organisations.  

This raises the question: are apprenticeships a big burden on small businesses or is this a misguided perception?

In my experience, those small businesses that get great results from hiring apprentices do so by following a series of practical steps that are not wildly different from the systems and processes used for their other employees.

While there is a degree of adaptation to support apprentices, this extra effort is offset by the return on investment that begins, for some organisations, as quickly as three months after the apprentice starts.

Step #1: identify the business case for hiring an apprentice

It’s important that there is a solid business need driving the use of an apprenticeship, whether it’s to build the skills needed instead of hiring expensive fully-trained individuals, to develop your competitive advantage through building your own talent or to offer career progression for your existing team.

Step #2: adapt the recruitment process

For apprentices that are starting their first job, a traditional interview may not be the best approach to identify the most suitable candidates.

Simulated work, team exercises and even saying an interview is a mock interview, often produces better results.  

Step #3: kick-start with a tailored induction

While some small businesses may only have a very simple induction process for new team members, it’s essential to have one specifically for an apprentice.

Setting out what’s expected of the apprentice, and the need to balance earning with learning, is crucial to achieving a return on investment as soon as possible.

Step #4: set objectives

As with any member of a team, objectives that stretch and develop an apprentice will underpin their performance.

Linking objectives to their studies will further accelerate the rate that they start adding value.

Step #5: commit to the process of learning

As with many things, you get out what you put into an apprenticeship.

For employers, this means providing apprentices with the time and opportunity they need to study, whether that’s learning from others in the workplace or studying with fellow apprentices in a classroom.

With technology enabling many apprentices to study whenever and wherever, learning can be fitted to suit the unpredictable nature of many jobs.

At the same time, allowing apprentices to put what they have learnt into practice will help reinforce their knowledge and accelerate their positive impact.

Step #6: surround your apprentice with great people

If the size of your team will allow, there are three key roles that will help an apprentice thrive in your workplace:

  • A line manager who understands what the apprentice is studying and champions their development.
  • Someone who can mentor the apprentice’s professional development.
  • A peer who can provide practical support and advice to the apprentice.

The benefit of this is felt not just by the apprentice – those that support apprentices often say how much it has driven their own professional development.

Step #7: work with your training provider

Large employers with several apprentices are able influence the type of training they receive from a training provider.

While smaller organisations lack the scale to do this, they can still build a close relationship with their training provider with regular two-way communication about the progress of their apprentice and the content of the training.  

This will ensure that there is always a close connection between what is learnt off-the-job and on-the-job.

Step #8: get feedback

Regular feedback from your apprentice will enable you to refine and adapt their development and improve the rate at which they build new skills.  

Encouraging their involvement in peer and membership networks, such as the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, will also empower them to believe their voice matters.

Step #9: foster wellbeing

We know only too well the stresses that can build-up in the workplace. For apprentices, this can be magnified by having to juggle work commitments with learning responsibilities, no matter where they are in their careers.

The transition from school, college or university to an apprenticeship can be very challenging while existing team members who are doing an apprenticeship to upskill may struggle to start learning if they’ve been away from education for some time.  

Being sensitive to these issues and making support easily available will make a huge difference.

Career Ambitions ‘Already Limited by Age of Seven’
October 17, 2019
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By Sean Coughlan BBC News family and education correspondent.

By the age of seven, children are already facing limits on their future aspirations in work, according to a report from the OECD international economics think tank.

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director of education and skills, says “talent is being wasted” because of ingrained stereotyping about social background, gender and race.

He is backing a project from the Education and Employers careers charity to give children a wider understanding of the range of jobs available.

Social mobility barriers

Mr Schleicher says children have begun making assumptions about what type of people will enter different types of work while they are still in primary school.

There are only “minimal changes” in attitudes towards career options between the ages of seven and 17, says the report produced jointly by the OECD and Education and Employers.

classroom

The report, warning of the barriers to social mobility, says too often young people consider only the jobs that are already familiar to them, from friends and family.

“You can’t be what you can’t see. We’re not saying seven-year-olds have to choose their careers now but we must fight to keep their horizons open,” says Mr Schleicher.

He is backing the Education and Employers’ efforts to bring people from the world of work into schools, with the aim of widening access to the jobs market and raising aspirations.

“It’s a question of social justice and common sense to tackle ingrained assumptions as early as possible or they will be very tough to unpick later on,” says Mr Schleicher.

Light-bulb moment

The OECD education chief will speak at an Education and Employers event in London on Tuesday, where the charity will announce plans to double to 100,000 the network of people who go into schools and talk about their jobs and career paths.

At present there are more than 50,000 volunteers, representing jobs from “app designers to zoologists”.

Jobs

The intention is to create “light-bulb moments” where young people can see a possible new direction and hear from role models.

Research for the careers report shows that young people often have very narrow ideas about potential job options.

The most common influences are the occupations of people in their family, the jobs they see in the media and the type of work they see as most likely for people of their gender and background.

‘Out of reach’

The findings show that in primary school, boys from wealthier homes are more likely to expect to become lawyers or managers while girls from deprived backgrounds are expecting to go into hairdressing or shop work.

Boys from deprived backgrounds were particularly likely to want to go into careers such as sport or entertainment.

Mr Schleicher warns of a mismatch between the limited range of aspirations and the changing demands of the jobs market.

“Too often young people’s ambitions are narrowed by an innate sense of what people from their background should aspire to and what’s out of reach,” says Nick Chambers, chief executive of Education and Employers.

“The importance of exposure to the world of work at primary age cannot be overstated,” says Paul Whiteman, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers. 

“The earlier children’s aspirations are raised and broadened, the better.”

Take Charge of Your Career, or Someone Else Will
October 2, 2019
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The link below will take you to a LinkedIn article written by Dave Ulrich.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/take-charge-your-career-someone-else-dave-ulrich/

Meet The MD: David Gallagher Of NCFE
September 23, 2019
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“It doesn’t matter what you want to be, it’s who you want to be that’s important.” David Gallagher of NCFE shares his advice on the importance of being the best version of yourself, but always being yourself. 

What is it the company does?

Meet the MD: David Gallagher of NCFE
David Galagher

NCFE is a national awarding organisation with a strong heritage going back over 170 years. Passionate about designing, developing and certificating diverse, nationally recognised qualifications and awards, NCFE is at the forefront of technical education and has contributed to the success of millions of learners at all levels.

A registered educational charity, NCFE is proud to be recognised for exceptional customer service and sector-leading expertise. NCFE offers an extensive portfolio of NCFE and CACHE branded qualifications covering a wide range of products and services for leaners of all ages across many subject areas and specialisms.

NCFE is also a registered Apprenticeship End-Point Assessment (EPA) Organisation, specialising in health, care, childcare and education programmes. The NCFE family of businesses also includes Skills Forward, which offers online diagnostics to support the successful delivery of Functional Skills, and Peer Tutor, a new platform offering high quality, on-demand, tech-enabled peer-to-peer tutoring support at low cost.

NCFE is committed to changing the lives of learners and supporting people to progress and achieve. The organisation’s purpose is to ‘advance and promote learning’ – with a particular focus on social mobility; supporting those who need it most to improve their career and life chances through learning.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

I lead NCFE including NCFE Awarding, Apprenticeship Services, Skills Forward and Peer Tutor. My role involves me shaping the strategy and cultivating the culture of the organisation, developing the leadership and management team to be the very best they can be. I also play a leading role in the growth and continuous development of our business, balancing our social purpose and commercial objectives to ensure that we continue to make a significant impact on the lives of learners of all ages.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I joined NCFE in 2018 as managing director of NCFE Apprenticeship Services, leading a new team to deliver End-Point Assessment (EPA) solutions across a range of subject areas. I have since moved into my new role as chief executive at NCFE.

I have enjoyed a successful career in education, apprenticeships and skills for over 15 years. This has included working in the public sector for the Learning and Skills Council (now ESFA), several private sector training providers and also through establishing several successful new business startups within the sector.

In a previous role, I held a board position as group commercial director at Babington, a professional training organisation based in the Midlands. I also led the reshaping of the organisation and its proposition in response to the Apprenticeship Reform Agenda and emerging market opportunities. I successfully oversaw significant growth of the business, primarily though securing a variety of major corporate accounts. I also held board level responsibly for the creation of Babington’s innovative ‘NextGen’ blended delivery apprenticeship programmes which has received hugely positive feedback from customers and key stakeholders.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

I think it’s so important to be the best version of yourself as much as you can at work and to lead by example. I believe in my actions being aligned to my words and being bold and courageous, whilst also being considered. I also think that great leaders focus on helping those around them to be the best they can be.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

I’m naturally a ‘get things done’ person and prioritising tasks when there is so much to get stuck into is a big challenge. It’s exciting, though, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The pace of our sector really keeps me on my toes!

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Spending time with my family and finding that balance between work and home is what alleviates stress for me. Taking time on an evening to cook and spend time with my wife and my two boys helps me keep a good perspective and value what is most important in life.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An archaeologist – basically because I wanted to be Indiana Jones! Then an architect and a golf course designer; I think I’ve always liked creating things.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

Apathy is the enemy of energy and is something I really can’t stand. I strive to ensure that people are connected to what we’re trying to achieve and inspired to take action. We really believe in the power that learning has to change people’s lives and we’re a key part of powering education and training. So apathy is essentially our enemy because it means that power is sucked out of something that is so important.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I believe that learning will change radically over the next five to 10 years, so I would like to think that NCFE has played a major part in developing new ideas and approaches that will create more opportunities for learning, particularly for those who need it most. I also see us being able to leverage more investment in learning through clearly demonstrating the significant positive impact that we’ve had on the lives of millions of learners in terms of their life and career chances.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

I would say to be yourself. Be the best version of yourself, but always be you. I occasionally see leaders ‘playing the role’ and it shows. Plus, it must be exhausting.

As a leader, you have such an important role in setting the tone, the mood and ultimately the culture within your organisation. So I think it’s hugely important to be optimistic, consistent, balanced and fair.

Finally, I believe that feedback can be the single most important thing that can improve your performance as a leader. So, ask for feedback and ask people to be honest. Take the feedback with openness and humility, even when it stings.

What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

I wish that someone had have told me that it doesn’t matter what you want to be, it’s who you want to be that’s important. We spend so much time asking children what they want to be when they grow up and that’s the wrong approach. Focusing on the kind of person they want to be should come first.

How To Attract, Motivate and Keep IT Staff – A Candidate’s View
August 29, 2019
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Every day, tens of thousands of people stream into some of the biggest offices in the country, wearing one of two coloured ID badges. One identifies the person as a permanent employee, while the other shows the person is a third-party contractor.

The following article is by Graham Smith, Head of Marketing at Microsoft recruitment partner – Curo Talent.

Curo Talent

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary. The cost of hiring a contractor can be equally high. Your hiring strategy needs to work; getting it wrong can be costly, and getting it right requires informed decisions.

In Curo Talent’s latest report: IT Talent Acquisition; the candidate’s view 2019, 875 IT contractors and IT permanent workers from across the United Kingdom gave their opinion on employment issues. There is some distinction between temporary and permanent staff viewpoints but also some common ground, enabling important conclusions to be drawn, backed up by data.

When asked what attracts them to a company, pay was the number one priority for both IT contractors and permanent staff.

Yet this was very closely followed by a desire for interesting work in both groups. 23 percent of IT contractors put interesting work as a close second, and 20 percent of permanent staff agreed.

The cerebral nature of IT work means that members of the IT Department need to be kept busy and engaged on projects. Too much downtime leads to boredom. This is underlined by numbers showing that 57 percent of non-IT staff have been in their current job for more than 5 years, compared to just 29 percent of IT workers.

So, while the salary and day rate may be the first thing a candidate looks at in your recruitment advertisement or job description, it’s equally important to make the job sound interesting and something that will look good on their CV. Invest time in crafting recruitment adverts that excite IT candidates, and maybe get your existing IT staff to critique the first draft.

For both permanent and contract staff the first port of call when seeking work is a recruitment agency, followed by job boards for contractors and company websites for permanent staff. What is revealing is that on average 30 percent of candidates have never applied to a job advertised on social media. While platforms such as LinkedIn may be valuable for hiring managers researching CVs, it would appear it’s not the first place candidates go to when hunting for new work.

So, what would push an IT worker to start job hunting? In both groups, poor management came out on top. 30 percent of IT contractors would leave due to poor management, compared with 19 percent of IT permanent workers. Without jumping to conclusions on the subtext of these responses, humans cannot help but draw on past experiences to answer questions like this.

Does this indicate that 30 percent of IT contractors have felt the effects of poor management in the past? Potentially. Clearly, it’s important for all staff to be onboarded at new companies effectively, before being supported and assessed fairly. It’s equally important that managers are trained to motivate their team and identify concerns in order to reduce staff churn.

When candidates were asked about their greatest challenge over the next 12 months there was a difference of opinion. Permanent staff stated increasing their salary and a better work life balance were the top of their list.

For IT contractors, concerns over IR35 and work life balance were the big challenges.

The extension of IR35 reforms into the private sector is due to take place in April 2020 and is already starting to cause confusion and chaos. Essentially, if any contracting work is classified as ‘inside’ the IR35, earnings will be taxed as if the contractor is a permanent employee.

For IT contractors, concerns over IR35 and work life balance were the big challenges. The extension of IR35 reforms into the private sector is due to take place in April 2020 and is already starting to cause confusion and chaos. Essentially, if any contracting work is classified as ‘inside’ the IR35, earnings will be taxed as if the contractor is a permanent employee.

So, do hiring managers have to make any changes in the present to accommodate for a mass exodus of contractors? Apparently not. IT contractors were also asked if IR35 will change their mind about doing contract work and only eight percent stated that it would. 

This underlines that IT experts choose contracting for a better lifestyle, not just for tax advantages. Working when and where they want, on projects they select, at negotiated rates, gives them the freedom and choice they value.

How to Develop a Learning Culture for Young Talent
August 19, 2019
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The following article is by Tristram Hooley. Institute of Student Employers

How can we best develop young employees? This new research on the development of early talent from the Institute of Student Employers shares key insights.

Tristram
Tristram Hooley

Young people can be one of the greatest resources for employers. When you bring young talent into your organisation you’re gaining access to new ideas, enthusiasm and the latest skills from the education system, but you need to think carefully about how to manage younger workers and organise training and development in a different way from established staff. 

Many young people will never have been in a workplace before and they will often have a lot to learn about how your organisation works.

Two of the key roles for learning and development professionals is to help line managers understand the skills that their new hires have (and do not have) and to provide them with a pathway to developing these staff. 

Strengths of new hires

In the Institute of Student Employers’ Student Development Survey 2019 we asked employers to reflect on what things graduates, apprentices and school leavers were good at (and not so good at). They reported that all entry level hires were typically good at the following things: 

  • IT and digital skills (including using Excel)
  • Numeracy
  • Presenting themselves effectively in the workplace
  • Staying positive and building effective relationships with others
  • Teamwork 
  • Writing

For learning and development professionals this is a really strong base to start from. New hires come out of the education system with some of the key building blocks that they will need for successful careers, but they are often less clear on how to make use of these skills within the workplace. 

Helping young hires to consider how to apply the skills and knowledge they have within your business is therefore a key objective of induction and early career development programmes. 

Weaknesses of new hires

The weaknesses that employers raised with the different types of young hires are also interesting (see table for full list). Key areas of weakness included: 

  • Business appropriate communications
  • Commercial awareness
  • Job-specific skills
  • Leadership
  • Resilience
  • The ability to manage up
Employer perspectives on what skills entry-level hires lack

All of these weaknesses are strongly related to transitioning into the workplace environment. Where young hires struggle is in learning how to operate successfully within the workplace, to work with others (including their managers) and to deliver what is expected of them.

This requires learning and development professionals to rethink induction processes and to view them as a process of cultural acclimatisation that may go on for an extended period of time – the focus of early career training

Given that early career hires have both strengths and weaknesses, an important issue is what employers can do to develop their hires and strengthen their skills. 

On average, firms reported that they were spending £3,850 a year on each of their entry level hires. Often using the apprenticeship levy to fund some or all of this. 

The available resources should be spent on both cultural acclimatisation and on developing specific skills and knowledge that is required to perform in role and progress in career.

Employers in our survey typically invested in the same areas that they reported young hires were weak in, although areas, like presentation skills and teamworking, continue to be important for training even though entry level hires arrive relatively strong in these things.