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ViewPoint: Why Doesn’t the Skills Sector get the Importance of Management Skills?
September 11, 2019

By Mandy Crawford-Lee, Director of Policy and Operations, University Vocational Awards Council.

It seems that every few months a survey is published on the UK’s low productivity together with an analysis of why poor management skills provide part of the explanation for the UK’s productivity gap.

Mandy Crawford-Lee

This August it was the turn of Lloyds Bank with a survey of large manufacturers.

Commenting on the survey in The Times, Lloyds Bank’s head of manufacturing Steve Harris stated:

‘Large manufacturers are being brutally honest about the skills shortage affecting their sector and are highlighting that the problem is most pronounced at management levels.’

He went on to say: ‘Most experts agree good management is key to improving productivity. It is clear the sector needs to invest in up-skilling the next generation of managers now.’

DfE, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE), the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Ofsted should take note of this report – the health of our manufacturing sector is vital to the well being of the UK economy.

The Apprenticeship levy was, of course, introduced as a productivity tax, designed to compel employers to invest more in the training and development of their employees to raise productivity.

Management Apprenticeships, such as the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship and Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship are being used very successfully by UK manufacturers across sectors as diverse as automotive, aerospace, rail, informatics, food & drink, construction/civil engineering, electronics, oil & gas and defence to raise skills levels and productivity.  So good news and something to be celebrated? Not apparently to some in the so-called skills sector.

The schools and further education inspectorate, Ofsted has, for example, been clear in its view that the Senior Leader Degree Apprenticeship doesn’t need levy funding. A rather bizarre position given Lloyds Bank’s findings on the need to enhance management skills, which echoes points made in a range of other reports including the Government’s own Industrial Strategy and the position of the Bank of England. Enhancing management skills is fundamental to raising productivity and Apprenticeship is first and foremost a productivity programme. When using management apprenticeships employers are doing exactly what Government has asked them to do: that is develop and use the Apprenticeships their businesses need to raise productivity. So what doesn’t Ofsted get?

Employers paying to rectify a deficiency of the schools’ sector

The response is usually that Apprenticeship should be prioritised for young people, particularly those who don’t achieve a full level 2. But shouldn’t employers have a right to expect the schools’ system and Ofsted to ensure young people achieve a level 2 qualification after 11 years of compulsory education? While no one would deny the need to support young people, it seems inappropriate for Ofsted to argue that a hypothecated productivity tax imposed on employers, the Apprenticeship levy, should be used to fund training programmes to rectify a deficiency of the schools’ sector. After all, doesn’t Ofsted have some responsibility for school standards and performance?

Many in the skills sector have also opposed the growth of management apprenticeships. Some going so far as to argue that level 6 and 7 Apprenticeships shouldn’t be funded by the Apprenticeship levy. Such an argument is, of course, nonsense. If the Apprenticeship levy is about productivity then employers should be able to use it where they need to, regardless of level, to raise productivity. I don’t doubt there are some skills shortage areas in the UK economy at level 2, but if we’re about using Apprenticeship to develop a high skill, high productivity economy provision will increasingly be focused on level 3 – 7, including Management Apprenticeships.

I hope the Treasury, DfE and IfATE take note of the Lloyds Bank report, get behind our large manufacturers and support the use of management apprenticeships to raise skills levels, productivity and UK prosperity. UVAC will be supporting providers deliver the Management Apprenticeships our large manufacturers need. We hope others in the skills sector will do likewise.

Mandy Crawford-Lee, Director of Policy and Operations, University Vocational Awards Council

How to Be Productive When You’re Unemployed
August 28, 2019

Hints & Tips for Your Clients

Do you know what to do when unemployed? Whether you were fired or whether you were laid off due to cutbacks, no doubt you’re reeling internally and trying to find a new direction in a world suddenly gone topsy-turvy.

Once the initial shock wears off and ennui sets in, you’ll need to know what things to do when unemployed and bored in order to keep your productivity high.

Obviously, you know you need to find new work, and here’s how to be productive when you’re unemployed so you can find a new job quickly.

How Do You Stay Busy When Unemployed?

It’s tempting to hide under the covers, binge-watch “Game of Thrones” and ignore your plight. But doing so hardly helps you find new employment. Give yourself two or three days to recover from the shock, then get to work.

Depending on where you live and your personal financial situation, you may have a powerful extrinsic motivation to find new work quickly.

Try to take some time, even if only a morning or afternoon, to reflect on what kind of work you truly desire. If you were feeling burnout at your previous job due to finding your work meaningless, a job loss is a perfect time to switch careers.

Think about what you used to play as when you were a child. Maybe you’ve dreamed of becoming a teacher. If you lack a certificate but have a bachelor’s degree, consider applying for an online or in-person tutoring position. Always fantasized about working with animals? Now is the time to explore a potential career as a veterinary assistant.

Soul-searching definitely makes the list of things to do when unemployed and bored. But how to be productive and work toward getting that new dream job?

How Do You Be Productive When You Don’t Have a Job?

Nearly every job seeker with a computer knows how to upload a CV to a job site and begin sending applications. But in answer to the question, “What to do when unemployed,” more productive means of finding new work exist.

Take every opportunity to attend networking events in the field you wish to apply. Also, call up your friends and let them know you’re looking for work. While you may feel embarrassed to admit you’re unemployed, this is the best way to find out about insider opportunities friends may know about in their fields.

Looking for work is a full-time job, so make yourself a schedule each Sunday for the week ahead. Tackle high-priority activities such as filling out applications for the jobs which interest you most first on your schedule each day. Reserve afternoons or your least productive hours for sending thank you notes, making phone calls and researching new opportunities.

Prepare and rehearse an elevator pitch so you have an instant speech for yourself ready if you come across a prospective employer unexpectedly.

Prepare a job interview ready bag full of CVs, business cards, hand sanitizer and breath mints to avoid arriving unprepared. You’ll have materials ready to go if you meet someone who is looking for staff by chance!

Above all, avoid falling into despair and unhealthy habits. Keep up your exercise routine and continue meal planning even if you need to adjust the menu slightly to account for the loss in income. Take a pass on using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs to dull the pain of losing your job — impairment makes it tougher to find a new post.

Being Unemployed Doesn’t Mean Being Unproductive

Job loss can cause significant distress, but try to look at this as an opportunity to seek something more in line with your passions.

By remaining productive while you’re unemployed, you improve your chances of finding work more quickly.

Labour Productivity, UK: January to March 2019

Output per hour, output per job and output per worker for the whole economy and a range of industries.

Main Points
  • Labour productivity for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019, as measured by output per hour, decreased by 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; this was a marginally greater quarter-on-year decrease than the negative 0.1% seen in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2018.
  • Services recorded labour productivity growth of 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; in contrast, labour productivity growth fell in manufacturing by 0.9% during the same period.
  • Output per job grew by 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019 compared with the same quarter in the previous year, as gross value added (GVA) grew faster (1.8%) than the number of jobs over the same period (1.0%).
  • Commentary for unit labour costs are now available in the Unit labour costs bulletin, published on the same day (5 July 2019).

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