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Employment Minister and Skills Minister to Speak at Employment and Skills Convention 2020
July 6, 2020
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UK Employees are Considering a Career Change as Coronavirus acts as a ‘wake-up call’
May 14, 2020
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A study of UK based adults found that 39 per cent of respondents are considering changing careers, with one in ten attempting to retrain for a completely different job during the coronavirus crisis.

Millions of working adults are reevaluating their careers during the coronavirus pandemic with many ‘re-skilling’ to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown workplace. 

A study of 1000 adults who have been employed over the last two years found the outbreak to be a ‘wake-up call’, with 39 per cent pondering their job prospects.

Just under a third of those polled (28 per cent) are currently furloughed, with a further 47 per cent fearing they could find themselves in the same boat.

Another 42 per cent are concerned they will not have a position to go back to once the lockdown ends.

The study, commissioned by PeopleCert, a global leader in business and IT certifications and languages, found a quarter are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be indispensable or easily employable elsewhere.

Reassuringly, 36 per cent of those polled revealed their employer has offered them support in improving their existing skillsets.

Byron Nicolaides, president and CEO of PeopleCert, said: “We passionately believe in the need for continuous training for every professional – we have even coined a term for this – ‘skilling’.

“Without skilling, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they’re not being challenged or given the chance to grow.

“And given recent events, this is perhaps even more important now than it has been for quite some time.

“If staff are unfulfilled they may start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when life returns to normal.

“This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they’ll be able to find anyone with the right attributes.

“So investing in skilling existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.”

The study also found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.

In fact, one in 10 are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job.

However, 54 per cent fear they are too established in their current career to do something new.

But despite all the uncertainty at the moment, many are confident about their job prospects.

A fifth of those who have been furloughed revealed they feel optimistic about their career, with half using their time to learn something new with a view to boosting their existing skills.

The PeopleCert study, carried out through OnePoll, found those questioned have 10 core skills on average – with problem-solving, team working and organisation the most common.

However, the skill they would most like to improve upon is public speaking, followed by computing and assertiveness.

A separate study of 1,000 business owners, by PeopleCert, found six in 10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for.

Two thirds also said filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.

Byron Nicolaides added: “As the results show, filling vacancies with individuals who have the desired skill set is a major challenge.

“Not only is recruitment costly on a financial level, but there’s a danger it could also affect a business’ ability to grow because they can’t find the right people for the job.

“This is why skilling is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated.

“Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce which has all the right skills.”

Five Steps to Career Management

This Five-Step approach to career management sets out exactly what skills, tasks and priorities clients need to consider to move their career forward. Each of the steps has a list of questions which might be posed throughout someones working life. 

 This Five-Step approach is built around the following principles:

Values and Skills:  Identify what it is that you want from a job. Match this to your values and skills. Establish a satisfying and meaningful role for yourself. 

Personal Branding:  Recognise and manage your own attributes and your unique brand. Use this to effectively present yourself in a business environment. 

Networking:  Build a personal network. Exploit it for career opportunities. 

Performance:  Identify and develop your particular people skills to optimise personal performance in the work environment. 

Long-term Planning:  Identify long-term objectives. Use short-term goals and actions to achieve them. 

Value and Skills: Establish your work-life priorities by answering the following questions: 

  • What is meaningful in your work life? Where do you derive your sense of purpose from? How do you contribute? 
  • Define the rewards and incentives, financial and otherwise, that are truly important to you. How important is money? 
  • In which environment are you happiest (an office, working outdoors, from home)? How do you like to work (teams, autonomously)? What would be the ideal culture and environment for you to work in? 
  • If you had multiple offers to consider, which would be the deciding factors? 
  • How would you ideally like to balance your work, family and free time? How might this be achieved? What value do you place on your leisure time? 
  • How important to you is where you live? 
  • What are your skills, professional and personal? What jobs are best suited to these? 
  • In what country, industry and company do you want to work? Can you identify 20 companies for whom you would like to work and who could use your skills and experience? 
  • What makes you different from everyone else? What is your personal competitive advantage? Do you need to ask others (colleagues and family) to identify the latter? 
  • In what areas could you use more training or knowledge? If you are unhappy or dissatisfied in your current role, why is this? Is it something you can change, or do you need to move job? 

Personal Branding: Use the following questions to establish your personal brand and decide how best to market yourself: 

  • Do you have a quality CV that highlights all your achievements? Does it differ in style and tone from the standard business CV? Is it tailored to match each job for which you apply? 
  • Do you make covering letters individual? Are they specific to each job for which you apply? 
  • Is your CV up to date? 
  • Is your dress and appearance fitting for the company for which you are hoping to work or for whom you are already working? 
  • Have you pre-prepared answers to standard interview questions, including accomplishments, and prepared your own questions? Have you practised interviews? Have you identified your interview style? Do you need help? 
  • Are you prepared to chase every lead? If you do not hear from a prospective employer, do you follow up? 
  • What is your reputation in the workplace? How do others see you? What are your perceived strengths and weaknesses? 

Networking: The most effective way to advance your career is through personal networks. Answer the following questions: 

  • Have you compiled a list of family, friends and business contacts who might be able to help you? Have you carefully planned what you are going to say to them? 
  • Are you networking enough? Do you keep in touch with contacts? Do you do your best to be visible and help others? 
  • Are you using all available resources (career fairs, online recruiters, head-hunters)? 
  • Do you have a database to keep track of your applications, contacts and progress? Are you in danger of losing telephone numbers or contact names? 
  • Have you considered joining professional associations or business forums? If you are a member already, do you network with your peers? 
  • Have you identified your job targets? How much do you know about each of them, their history, culture and financial performance? How can you develop contacts in these organisations? 

Performance: Consider the following when managing your career from the workplace: 

  • Do you effectively deal with office politics? Could you improve on your people management skills? 
  • Do you have a trusting relationship with your colleagues? Do you have an internal personal network? Do you have a mentor or sponsor within your organisation?
  • Are people aware of the good work you do? 
  • Do you understand the culture and mission of your organisation? Do you understand your own role within that? 
  • Are you responsive to change and up-to-date with the latest technologies and improvements? 
  • Are you exploiting opportunities at work to expand your skills and knowledge? 

Long-Term Planning: Use the following to consider your whole career, and where you wish to go: 

  • Do you have a professional development plan? Have you considered relevant professional qualifications? Have you contacted universities and professional bodies with a view to obtaining these? 
  • Do you have an idea of where you would like to be in one, five and ten years’ time? How do you plan to achieve this? 
  • Do you have a careful financial planning programme? Do you effectively manage pensions, savings and debts? 
  • Do you have a fall-back option if you lose your job today? Are you continually updating your network in the event that you have to use it? 
  • Have you identified short-term goals? Are they in line with your medium and long-term strategies? 
Creating a Learning Culture, Where Individuals Can Perform Their Best
April 14, 2020
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Why is it important we keep learning?  Whether we like it or not, we are learning every day:  it might be a new way of buying a product or using a phone that has updated technology. All this change and innovation means we need to embrace learning. BY Kirstin Furber

The world we are living in is complex, competitive, fast and busy. In such an environment, it’s critical organisations focus on learning and constantly develop their capability. Many organisations have adapted their learning model from one of traditional classroom teaching to a blended learning approach including face to face presentations, coaching and learning whilst doing. 

These methods embed learning quickly and fit better in busy workdays. There are also some skills we can’t go on a course to learn, especially in digital space, as the work has not been done before and therefore the learning is very much on the job, through trial and error.

With the ability to learn its critical for organisations to remain competitive, adapt and stay ahead of the competition, how do we create a learning environment that supports individuals being their best? With the five characters of human culture as a foundation, I believe companies need to focus on the following five areas:

1. Purpose: Purpose provides organisations with a direction, a mission to get behind, and the opportunity to communicate how each employee’s role contributes to that purpose.  A clear purpose also provides ‘guard rails’ and focus.  When everyone is learning, creating new ideas, and developing as individuals and as a group, it’s easy to get off track. Having a clear purpose that everyone understands and buys into means that ideas can flourish ‘on strategy’ and be translated into action

2. Authentic Leaders: We know leaders are important role models, in everything they do and I have blogged before about the importance of authentic leadership.  Leaders have an opportunity to create an environment of learning through ‘bringing the external in’ and by ensuring the organisation does not get too internalised. Reading and sharing, participating at conferences, bringing speakers in to contribute new ideas and perspective, and by creating an environment of curiosity where it is safe to ask questions, is the perfect environment for learning to take place.  Remembering that they should always be open to learning also enables leaders to learn from their teams. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to have your thinking challenged. It’s important to be open to doing things differently and to update your perspective as the world changes. Authentic and vulnerable leaders who admit they don’t know everything, keep learning. 

3. Telling your story: Learning is about sharing and translating lessons learned into every day operational best practice.  Organisations that provide ways for individuals to share their learning with others both informally, e.g. at team meetings, and formally (through films, podcasts, or via company intranets) allow this translation of learning into the organisation to happen in the most organic way possible. This helps learning embed in the organisation.

4. Diversity: We all learn differently, and its critical organisations taken this into account. Some of us like to read about a subject in-depth, form views and then debate, others like a planned learning approach with many different forms of content: video, discussions, face to face sessions. The reflectors among us can get annoyed with a discussion group full of extroverts’ whist the extroverts are feeling very much in their comfort zone. Companies should enable time for reflection and processing as part of learning as well.  Cultures, physical and mental health, and learnings styles all need to be considered alongside how best to use technology to customise learning so it lands well-enabling people to engage with it for maximum impact.

5. Workplace: Finally, where do you learn best?  Traditional learning used to always be offsite, but with budget cuts and because of people’s productivity suffering if they’re out of the office for long periods of time, this has changed. Training has moved to ‘bite-sized’ learning with different views on timing, ideally no more than 90-minute learning sessions, for individuals to learn best, as outlined in this article.  Some of us like to learn at home, in the cafe, with others, in the office.  With learning being produced, delivered and customised through a variety of learning platforms, opportunities for where and when employees can learn are expanding. Some of us are better at learning in the morning, others in the evening, we should factor that into our learning approach. What is the best period of time to learn? To brainstorm? To make a decision?  To create an environment where employees can learn, all of these factors need to be considered when developing a curriculum.

A learning environment does a number of things: it builds capability to drive performance and helps attract the best because of an attractive development offering. It also helps retain the best because they grow and develop by utilising new found skills in a number of ways, especially when promotions or pay rises aren’t an option.

Creating an environment where it is easy to learn goes a long way to creating an environment where people can be their best selves at work because an environment where everyone can learn is one where everyone can flourish.

Kirstin Furber – Chief People Director of ClearScore

UK Employers Urged to Upskill Workers
November 26, 2019
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As businesses around the world race to upskill their workforces, City & Guilds Group warns that UK employers risk being left behind

UK employers must do more to upskill their workforces or risk lagging behind employers in other parts of the world, according to City & Guilds Group.

It surveyed 6,500 employees and 1,300 employers across 13 international markets and found significant differences in L&D investment in different parts of the globe.

The research showed that employers in developing countries with rapidly emerging economies are among the most likely to ramp up investment in upskilling their workforce in the near future, compared to developed economies such as the UK.

A significant proportion of Indian (92%) and Kenyan (78%) employers predicted a net increase in L&D investment in the next 12 months, compared to just 54% of employers in the UK. 

This is concerning considering only 13% of UK employees would rate the L&D opportunities at their organisation over the past year as very effective, compared to 31% of employees in India, researchers said.

When asked about skills, 71% of employees globally recognised that the skills they need to do their job will change in the next three to five years. However, only 66% of UK workers think their employer is keeping pace with these changing skills.

UK employers had a more positive outlook, with three-quarters (75%) saying they’re confident they have the skilled staff they need for the next three to five years. 

This highlights a worrying gap between employer and employee perceptions which could lead to lower retention rates, poor performance and opportunities as for employees to seek out organisations which can better meet their training needs.

John Yates, group director for corporate learning at City & Guilds Group, said the research shows that upskilling is less of a priority in the UK than he hoped. 

“Businesses worldwide are navigating a period of immense transformation – and this is particularly evident in emerging economies where organisations are ramping up their investment in L&D as they embrace technology and hone the skills required to compete on a global stage. 

“However, our study shows investment in skills is less of an immediate priority for employers in the UK – putting us at risk of lagging behind other, more future-focused countries,” he said.

He urged employers to listen to workers’ needs on training and development: “With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile – and the influx of overseas talent crucial to the future of British businesses – UK employers cannot afford complacency. 

“Employers need to listen to their workers’ training needs and ensure they continue to focus on upskilling or risk losing talent to other markets who are making this a priority. Equipping workforces with the skills to succeed in the future is a marathon, not a sprint, but those who overlook the importance of skills investment risk dropping out of the race altogether.”

The study also found that employers in developing economies are feeling the impact of technological advances in the workplace most acutely.

While just 25% of employers in the US and 42% in the UK recognise the impact of digital transformation on their business, this rose to 65% of Kenyan and 62% of Indian employers. Equally, when it comes to automation and AI, the majority of employers surveyed in Malaysia (60%) and India (58%) found this to be a major driver of change, compared to just 27% of employers in the UK.

Paul Grainger, co-director of the centre for post-14 education and work and head of enterprise and innovation for the department of education, practice and society (EPS) at UCL, said technology can help to support the changing workforce. 

“The foreseeable future is likely to be dominated by emerging digital technologies. These can help individuals and communities to grow, become more agile, develop skills and network with a wider, global community,” he said.

“As these technologies are able to transcend borders, they help organisations and the communities in which they are based to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the world at large. They support agility. And as workplace change is increasingly rapid, it is likely that those regions actively engaged in emerging markets will be better placed to manage the tensions between flexibility and predictability.”

14 Best Sites for Taking Online Classes to Boost Skills
September 4, 2019
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If you, your colleagues or your clients are looking to pick up a new skill, then an on-line course may be appropriate. They are shorter than a college course, they’re typically self-regulated, and they cover just about every skill, topic, or hobby you can possibly imagine.

But with this luxury comes great responsibility—mainly, the task of finding a site that works best for you.

Below is a list of resources that offer free, cheap, and quality classes right here on the internet.

Now all you have to do is sign up for one!

1. ALISON

ALISON has a large range of free, comprehensive classes on financial literacy, personal and soft skills, digital skills, entrepreneurship and then some. It targets all kinds of learners, from professionals and managers to teachers and freelancers.

2. Udemy

Udemy has plenty to offer for the learner on a budget, from completely free courses taught by experts, professors, entrepreneurs, and professionals, to frequent discounts and class specials. In addition to classes in tech, business, and marketing, you can also explore options in productivity, health, hobbies, and lifestyle.

3. Coursera

If you want to receive a college education without the high cost of tuition, Coursera is the best stop. This website offers amazing courses in all kinds of fields, from professional development to psychology, history, and literature—all created and taught by professors at top institutions nationally and across the globe. Their universities include Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and plenty more.

4. edX

Just like Coursera, edX offers anyone, anywhere the chance to take university classes in various departments—and get certified. Some of their big partners include Harvard, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Georgetown, and the University of Chicago (and that’s not all!).

5. Udacity

Udacity focuses on software development, offering free courses in programming, data science, and web development. The website also offers a nanodegree program for individuals who want to master a skillset or pursue a full-time career in tech.

6. Lynda

By subscribing to Lynda, you’ll have access to thousands of courses in business, design, art, education, and tech. And it offers a free 10-day trial so you can test the waters!

7. General Assembly

General Assembly offers both online and in-person classes, as well as full-time and part-time options. It focuses mainly on digital skills, covering subjects such as digital marketing, iOS and Android development, data analytics, and JavaScript.

8. Skillshare

Skillshare provides “bite-sized” classes to learners who only have 15 minutes a day. It has over 500 free classes and several thousand premium classes to choose from in topics such as film, writing, tech, lifestyle, and more.

9. LearnSmart

LearnSmart’s orientated toward career development, which is why it’s a great place to learn about IT and security, project management, Office, HR, and business.

10. Codecademy

Codecademy wants to teach you how to, well, code—and for free. It covers all kinds of programming, including JavaScript, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Python.

11. Pluralsight

After subscribing to Pluralsight (or using its free trial!), you’ll be able to explore classes in software, 3D development, VFX, design, game design, web design, and CAD software.

12. Adobe TV

Not sure how to use Photoshop or InDesign? Don’t worry, Adobe TV will walk you through all its programs with tutorials, manuals, and more.

13. FutureLearn

FutureLearn’s completely free, with classes taught by universities and special organizations. Its big topics are business and management, creative arts, law, health, politics, science, digital skills, sports and leisure, and teaching.

14. Academic Earth

And if you’re looking solely for academic classes, this website is perfect for you. It has courses in the arts, science, humanities, economics, computer science, and more, all for free.

Still don’t know where to start? Try Class Central—it personalizes your class search by asking you from the get-go what you’re interested in learning and from whom. Then, it pairs you with options from Coursera, edX, and other forums to find what best suits your needs, making the process even easier!

Problem-Solving Ranked by Employers as the Most Important Skill for their Employees
May 24, 2019
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LifeSkills created by Barclays asked UK employers across a range of different sectors and industries to choose the skills that matter most to them when building their workforce.

The seven core skills identified are:

  1. Proactivity
  2. Adaptability
  3. Leadership
  4. Creativity
  5. Resilience
  6. Communication, and
  7. Problem-solving

When asked which of these seven core skills was the most important, problem-solving was number one, ranking higher than creativity, leadership or communication. Read more

Ofsted’s New Provider Monitoring Visits
January 18, 2019
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Chris Jones, HMI, Specialist Adviser for Apprenticeships, on Ofsted’s new provider monitoring visits (8th January 2019)

Since April 2017, any provider wishing to train apprentices must be included on the register of apprenticeship training providers. We inspect all providers that receive apprenticeship funding from the Education & Skills Funding Agency or through the apprenticeship levy and that deliver apprenticeships at levels 2 to 5. A number of these providers are now eligible for inspection for the first time.

We usually inspect a new provider within 3 years of it beginning to deliver education and training programmes. But, because of the large volume of these new apprenticeship training providers and the potential risk to quality, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, announced in November 2017 that inspectors would carry out early monitoring visits to a sample of new apprenticeship providers. The Department for Education (DfE) has since provided additional funding to make sure that we have the resources to carry out monitoring visits to all these providers.

We will now be carrying out a monitoring visit to all newly funded apprenticeship training providers that have been delivering level 2 to 5 apprenticeships since April 2017. This visit will normally be within 24 months of their starting to deliver funded training. They will then have a full inspection normally within 24 months from when we publish their monitoring visit report.

By the end of November 2018, we had published more than 90 reports from monitoring visits to new providers.

Themes that inspectors look at

Monitoring visits for new providers are different to full and short inspections. They normally take place over 2 days. Inspectors do not cover all aspects of the inspection framework. Inspectors make progress judgements on 3 themes: Read more

Qualifications – What Qualifications? Deregulation of Qualifications in England
November 21, 2018
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The following article is by Ann Gravells, Author and Education Consultant.

If you are a practitioner in the further education, training and skills’ sector, it can be confusing knowing which qualification you should hold.Ann Gravells, Author and Education Consultant

I say ‘should’ hold, but you might not need one since the deregulation of qualifications in England in 2013 (there are different requirements for the other nations).

It’s now the responsibility of the individual employer, college or university to make the decision as to what qualifications their staff should hold. However, there might be requirements to hold certain teaching and/or subject qualifications as part of the programme being taught and assessed.

Practitioners are ‘dual professionals’ i.e. they are a subject expert as well as a teacher, trainer, assessor or quality assurer.

Teachers and trainers

The most popular qualifications for teachers and trainers are the:

  • Level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET)
  • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (CET)
  • Level 5 Diploma in Education (and Specialised Diploma) (DET).

Read more

ViewPoint: By David Hughes – Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges
November 8, 2018
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By ignoring colleges, the Budget ignored the UK skills crisis Far from being a “People’s Budget”, the Chancellor failed to address the critical need amongst young people and employers for investment in colleges.

“The hard work of the British people is paying off. Austerity is coming to an end.” These were the words of the Chancellor as he introduced his Budget for “the strivers, the grafters and the carers”. I’ve even heard commentators talking about it as a “People’s Budget”. The problem, as always, is which people?

There are many other commentators who will pore over the tax and benefits announcements to declare how fair or otherwise the Budget was and who won and who lost. What I saw was a Budget that was more about politics and potholes than about the jobs, skills and life chances.

Any long-term view of our country will recognise just how important it will be to improve our education and skills investment as the weaknesses in our labour market become more exposed. Employers in private and public sectors have become reliant on skilled and semi-skilled people moving here to work, many from the EU. Nurses, teachers, engineers, construction workers, carers, shop workers – the list goes on and on. That reliance has hidden the misfit between our education and skills investment and the jobs that are available.

Read more