first_imgThe European Computer DrivingLicence is going down a storm. But what is its true value? Simon Kent reportsIn May 1998 a new ITqualification was launched in the UK. The European Computer Driving License(ECDL) had its genesis some three years earlier as a local qualification inSweden. Offering a simple mark of auser’s skill and knowledge at using IT, the qualification quickly spreadthroughout Northern Europe and is now awarded in the UK by the British ComputerSociety (BCS). According to Stephanie Malone at the BCS there are now around1,300 recognised test centres for the licence and some 100,000 candidatesregistered as working towards the qualification.But what is the licence reallyworth? Moreover, given the host of other IT-related qualifications – from NVQsto degrees to Microsoft qualifications – does it really have a legitimate placein the training roster? “It is the best thing available for a reasonably shorttest of basic computer usage,” says Simon Ellis, head of the London SkillsForecasting Unit. “To that extent I think it’s useful, but it’s probably notthe complete answer to current skill shortages.”The Forecasting Unit’s annualsurveys of 5,000 companies and 14,000 individuals have found IT skills to beamong the biggest problems for employers in the last few years. But while the ECDL certainlyaddresses user skills, it is not intended to address the more technical skillsin the software and programming areas which are also in demand from employers. “The IT industry is probablyone of the areas where take up will be lowest,” notes Karen Price, chiefexecutive of E-Skills National Training Organisation. “It’s more for otherindustries where employers might be unsure of exactly how to upskill theirworkers.”Major attractionsThe ECDL can boast two majorattractions. Firstly, it is a user’s qualification. In other words, anyone whouses a computer in any context is a potential candidate. Secondly, the qualification isextremely flexible in delivery and can be adapted to meet the demands ofindividual organisations in terms of employee activity, their prior knowledgeand the amount of time they can spare for training activities.The full ECDL qualificationrequires the completion of seven modules (see box). Clearly an individual mayknow more about certain areas than others and can therefore take the modules asand when they are ready, dedicating more training time to those areas wherethey are less knowledgeable. To extend flexibility anduptake, the BCS has recently introduced the idea of a “start certificate”whereby a candidate completing four of the seven modules can receive officialrecognition of their knowledge. In this way, even employees who do not needknowledge in every area of the ECDL will still be able to gain some official recognitionof their skills.Bradford and District Tecstarted using the ECDL following a study of its own IT skills requirement. With a policy of one computerper desk, it found that training staff towards the qualification meant itssmall IT department – three employees serving a workforce of around 90 – couldspend less time dealing with simple user-problems enabling them to gain morevalue from the organisation’s IT investment.Efficiency“People who have been usingtheir computer for three or four years have taken the course and found new andmore efficient ways of doing their work,” says Geoff Rose, the Tec’s ITmanager. “If a company doesn’t have itsown support staff and is reliant on an outside supplier, training staff throughthe ECDL could have a bigger impact – they would no longer have to pay for thatsupport.”The TEC has its own dedicatedIT trainer and has attained test centre status, enabling it to offer trainingto other organisations including the local council and the YMCA. This training isone activity it hopes to continue in some form following the closure of theTecs in March. “The qualification hascertainly worked for us,” says Jules O’dor, innovation manager. “We’ve seenbenefits in skill levels and in people’s confidence with IT. Employees havetaken on tasks they wouldn’t have dreamed of doing before – there’s even been acompetitive spirit amongst employees about who’s passed what and with whatscore.”The ECDL has won favour inother areas of commerce. Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical company, now hasupwards of 200 employees studying for the qualification delivered through thecompany’s Flexible Learning Centre in Kent. Meanwhile, 58 undergraduatesfrom the dental school at the University of Wales College of Medicine completedthe ECDL at the end of last year. Developing skillsClearly the qualificationoffers organisations an effective way of developing the basic IT user skillsits employees need, but will it become a qualification employers look for?Theo Lynn, managing director ofEducational Multimedia Corporation, a training supplier, believes in time thequalification will gain a greater foothold within the formal education system. “In five years’ time the ECDLwill be driven into schools, perhaps at the GCSE level,” he says. “At the moment the main need isto reskill the workforce and if corporations meet that challenge the standardrequired for IT skills will naturally rise.”However, if the qualificationis to achieve that status and to retain the popularity it has enjoyed over thepast two years, it must be seen to keep pace with the technology itself. According to Stephanie Malone,the syllabus has already undergone one upgrade since its inception and SimonEllis is not alone in highlighting the importance of keeping the standard ontrack with the rest of the IT world. “There is no doubt it will needto be updated as new technology comes along,” he says, “but broadly speaking itis the best practical test out there.”SevenstepsThe ECDL is principally basedaround Microsoft applications and consists of seven modules:Basic concepts of ITUsing the computer and managing filesWord processingSpreadsheetsDatabasePresentationInformation and communicationThe cost of training variesaccording to training provider and method of delivery – classroom, on-line, orCBT. An intensive course from zero knowledge can take up to 10 days. On averagethe full course costs £700. The BCS has set a guide-line charge of examinationsat £20 per module. Each candidate is also obliged to buy a logbook to recordtheir progress which currently has a fixed cost of £25. Related posts:No related photos. Licence to skillOn 1 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The first meeting of the Fair Pay Champions, appointed by the Government toaid its campaign to close the pay gap for women, has taken place. It is part ofthe Government’s drive to raise awareness of employment rights for women andencourage good practice. But the case of city share analyst Julie Bower, who was forced to resign asa result of sex discrimination which included being paid an “insultinglylow” bonus, has led the Equal Opportunities Commission to renew calls formandatory pay audits. Jenny Watson, deputy chair of the EOC, said, “Such aculture makes it all too easy for discrimination to occur, which is why theEqual Pay Task Force has called for legislation requiring employers to ensure paysystems are not biased.” But despite this call for mandatory pay audits, the Government isencouraging employers to undertake pay reviews on a voluntary basis. It hasalso set up a Women’s Employment and Pay Review, headed by Denise Kingsmill, alawyer who specialises in industrial relations and employment law. Says employment minister Tessa Jowell, “The Fair Pay Champions willspearhead the drive to change culture and rule out discrimination in business.And the women’s employment and pay review will work to find ways to challengethe culture of low pay.” ‘Fair pay’ champions meetOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

first_imgBusiness classOn 1 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Asda’shead of people development Paul McKinlay doesn’t want to be a trainingspecialist. He tells Stephanie Sparrow whyPaulMcKinlay’s career became the stuff of legend when a television appearancecatapulted him into the Asda firmament in true A Star is Born manner.”Thestory goes that in 1995 Asda’s then chief executive Archie Norman saw me in aBBC television documentary called Situation Vacant, recruiting potential newstore managers for Toys R Us and said, ‘We must get him working for us’,”McKinlay smiles.Normangave him a job as general store manager designate, one of the youngest ever,and monitored his prot‚g‚’s progress. McKinlayhas now been with the food and clothing superstore for six years, notching upconsiderable success along the way. Since last September, he has been head ofpeople development. Now his superstar status is such that he ranks in  the Personnel Today Top 40 this year and ledhis team to scoop the overall winners’ award as well as the training award forthat magazines’ “Oscars” last year. He sits on Asda’s people board,reporting to executive board member and people director David Smith.Theseare hefty HR achievements for a 33- year-old, but particularly for someone whodoesn’t think himself cast in that mould. “I never saw myself as an HRperson and still don’t,” he says. “I am an operator spending sometime in training and I’m sure that I’ll take on a more operational role in thefuture.”Heis wary of defining himself partly because he doesn’t want to divorce peopledevelopment from the rest of the business, but McKinlay’s success and that ofAsda’s approach as a whole is precisely because it doesn’t differentiatebetween training initiatives and business.Hisvocabulary is peppered with phrases such as “accountability” and”business objectives” and he sees the teams of people who report tohim as a profit centre, which makes things happen, “not a drain onresources”.”Idon’t profess to be some sort of training guru,” he says. “But I understand how our shops work,how our distribution works, how Asda House works and can use that to producestuff line managers can use to move their business and people forward.”Thepeople development team is accountable to Asda’s 100,000 employees, known as”colleagues”, who comment on their performance via the monthlygrass-roots survey known as “We’re Listening”. McKinlay’sperformance contract and those of his team expect that  80 per cent of  colleagues will answer the question: “I know what trainingis available” and next year that percentage will be increased. Hesees the team’s role as working as “the oil between two cogs”. Thecogs are Asda House and the stores and it is up to those in people developmentto translate business plans into what stores can do. Thisworks through to the smallest detail. McKinlay has five teams of people,including graduate recruitment (known as the Talent Store scheme), the AsdaHouse people development team focusing on head office, logistics, food trading,the Asda Academy schemes and general merchandise.Inaddition to the five team leaders heading up these areas, McKinlay has twofield-based people who are direct reports. They divide the country into northand south and carry out the day-to-day communication within the stores.Itseems that daily contact with the stores and feeding them the right tools isthe lifeblood of the people development department. Under the banner of foodtrading, for example, is someone whose job is to work closely with the bakerybusiness unit. “Itis their job to understand its business plan and then translate the strategicobjectives into stuff the stores can do. It’s about translating what we can doas a business into how can we make that happen in every store,” saysMcKinlay.McKinlay’sown background is totally store-based, from a degree in retail marketing tofive years with Toys R Us, and the latest six with Asda. Until May 1999, hisremit included tasks such as store openings, renewals and culturalacclimatisation for colleagues and customers after buying stores from othergroups such as the Co-op.Thatmonth, he was asked to take on the project of Asda’s seven Stores of Learning.These were launched with a £3m investment in a programme that aims to bring allmanagement trainees into these stores and turn them into outstanding exponentsof shop-keeping standards. It has so far trained more than 1,200 new managersin 25 different disciplines.Hewas asked to keep up the project’s “credibility” and momentum, whichhe did with regular reports to the chief executive to maintain its profile.LastSeptember, he was asked to take on the full training role. “So I broughtStores of Learning with me to the mainstream training and development functionand picked up responsibility for the whole of our training and developmentstrategy, from exec development of our main board to whether our checkoutoperators recognise the right type of apple, which was great.”McKinlayhas plenty to keep him busy in this still fairly new role.”SinceSeptember, we’ve adopted all of the store targets as our targets, so we need tomake sure that we demonstrate impact and we need to take our Stores of Learningto the next level,” he says.Anotherinitiative, which other retailers will watch closely, is the extension of theNational Training Award-winning Asda Academy. The Academy is currently a formalscheme offering product knowledge and skills training with accreditation in keycraft areas. This means,  for example,that any one of Asda’s 571 butchers can be accredited by the Meat and LivestockCommission to the equivalent NVQ level.”Weuse external accreditation to get people to really want to drive their skillsin order to serve our customers better,” he says, convinced that theAcademy is a great motivational tool throughout.McKinlayis hoping that by January 2002 he will have launched a General Store ManagerAcademy, which will extend the scheme all the way through store managementpositions. Although yet to be finalised, the bare bones of it are that entrywill be by application only.”Furtherdevelopment training should be earned by people who have clearly demonstratedthe ability to learn and apply previous investment, previous training. We wanttough programmes for quality people,” he says. Successfulalumni of the GSM Academy will receive an as yet undisclosed managementqualification and attend a posh dinner. Elsewherein his remit, he has just relaunched the graduate scheme and tied it evenfurther into the business by giving each first year recruit an adopter on the operationsboard.”Nowsome of our most senior managers and most junior managers speak to each otheron a regular basis,” he says. “The graduate goes to board meetingswith them to give them greater exposure.”TheAsda Academy concept will be extended to take “colleagues” (everyoneof Asda’s 100,000 employees in the UK is referred to as a”colleague”) from across disciplines to share and emphasise theirselling skills. McKinlay is looking at an Active Selling Academy for thosecolleagues, whether a greeter or from produce, who excel at selling in stores. “It’sthe first thing we’ve done that’s not from within a discipline,” he says. Andlike his peers in all industries, McKinlay is getting his teeth into e-learningand building a transition from computer-based learning. He admits that this hasbeen facilitated by the 1999 acquisition by Wal-Mart.”Wewrote our own content and used the template for our CBL and PCs from Wal-Martand we could never have done that without the acquisition,” he says.”What we want to do now is enrich it with video and do all the ‘wow’things that will drive usage. It’s a real challenge.” TheWal-Mart influence is seen in other initiatives such as head office-based”Shrink Schools”, where managers receive top-up training on minimisingstock loss, through to a link with the Walton Institute at the world’s biggestretailer’s homely-sounding base of Bentonville, Arkansas.”Iwent over to Bentonville for a conference last September with the trainingmanagers of all the international countries. “Iwas new in role and really wary, but by the end of the week I didn’t want tocome back. It was just awesome,” he says.”Oneof the most impressive things was how we had nearly every senior board membercome to us that week to tell us how important training was to the future of thebusiness. “Theyall arrived at the appointed time and delivered fantastic input. This wasplanned a month or two in advance, and none of them cancelled,” he says,obviously still in awe. “Forme, it was a real piece of respect for the individual. And how important didthat make us feel? Did it send us away fired up to go and deliver around theworld? Yes it did.”Wal-Martis nothing short of a global super-power in retail terms. Including theacquisition, it has more than 1 million employees, and 4,000 stores worldwide,so what is it really like to work for such a giant? Has it swamped Asda withits culture?Hesays the irony is that when Wal-Mart bought Asda it saw it as more”Wal-Mart than Wal-Mart”, because the cultural fit was already there.Thisharks back a decade to when Archie Norman and Alan Leighton visited the USlooking for ideas to revive the then-flagging business.”Theyspent a lot of time with Wal-Mart, begging and borrowing anything that woulddrive the culture because people were seen to be the key to driving thebusiness. So we had, ‘We’re all colleagues, one team’ and Wal-Mart has ‘respectfor the individual’,” he says.AndWal-Mart is open to trying Asda’s ideas. “Stores of Learning is rollingout around the world. Wal-Mart has picked that up and, had it been the righttime, I would like to have gone and implemented that – especially if it hadbeen in Cancun,” he says, relishing the international career opportunitiesahead. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Away from it allOn 12 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Whatvalue does a visit to a retreat actually add to the life of a busy senior HRexecutive? Does it allow them to reprioritise goals to make them more efficientat work or just provide a welcome break from the stresses that are part of lifetoday in HR?  We send our featureswriter Phil Boucher to a stately home and a monastery to find outNever mind the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch any more, injournalism these days there is barely time for lunch at all. And while we hacksskip off to a press conference every so often, such events are alwaysovershadowed by the inevitable deadline waiting for us back at the office. So Ijumped at the chance to take part in an HR executive retreat programme held atWaverley Abbey House in Farnham, Surrey. With a brief to “stop, think and step out of your lives”, five HRexecutives and I were given two days to “take control in a busyworld”. Leading us on this voyage of discovery were Chris Blakeley andGeoff Shattock, programme directors from Waverley Learning, organiser of theretreat programme. The first morning begins with an ice-breaking session where the task is tofind something in common with everybody else in the room – harder than youwould imagine as we all have remarkably different tastes, particularly inmusic. But it serves its purpose as a conversation starter and leads on to alesson in relaxation from Shattock that has the entire room drifting off intodreamland. With the preliminaries over, the Waverley team starts the programme forreal. Over the next two days it set a number of conundrums designed to draw outhidden strengths and encourage self-understanding. For each group member thisleads down different paths, but each one is treated as valid and acceptedwithout question. “You bring with you the important issues and questions in your workinglife, whether they include a sense of potential and change or a difficultdecision or problem,” says Blakeley. “For many people this often involves bigger questions about life in general– the ones that can lead to real progress, but which you never seem to get thetime or space to tackle properly.” Waverley’s programme is designed to tackle some of these “biggerquestions”. We were also asked what we want from work, where we powerfullycontribute and what assumptions could be constraining us. To find the answers we were asked to assess a number of ambiguous conceptssuch as “How did I get here today?” and, “Where am I?” Thiswas primarily done in moments of quiet contemplation either in the house orthroughout the grounds and was followed by a group discussion on our answers. Blakeley then led the discussion into how to strengthen leadership, be-comemore principled and identify resources that are available for generatingchange. As a former HR manager, Blakeley has based the retreat on his ownexperiences and uses the theme of “conviction as well as competence”to help the group analyse their position within a company structure. He alsodiscussed how HR can get “beneath the corporate culture while remainingauthentic” – contributing to the company ethos while still remaining trueto your own principles. This prompting often led to frank, open and, at times, emotional discussionas we all identified areas of life we would like to change and spoke of thestruggles we have had in coping with certain aspects. By the end of the firstday we had reached the stage where we had identified the areas we would like toimprove and possible reasons why they have held us back in the first place. The second day began with a head and neck massage, coupled with another setof relaxation exercises from Shattock. This removed any overnight tension andhad the group refocused within minutes. The agenda was to find some solutions by the day’s end. As Blakeleyexplains, “During the retreat we help you, and you help each other toaddress some questions. In doing so you become clearer about your stance andmore confident in your way forward. We give you development techniques thatenable you to clarify.” Further discussion and internal reflection followed and we also employed theuse of “timelines”, which saw us walking through an imaginary path ofthe future – the idea being that you walk forward visualising what’s holdingyou back and then gain an understanding of how life might change for thebetter. “Sooner or later your questions will take you from thought toaction,” explains Blakeley. “These action steps can often be simplerthan you think and working them out helps to clarify where you would like togo.” This all helps to find what the Waverley team describes as your “coreprocess” – unique talents that form the basis of your effectiveness inwork and life. And for the rest of the day the group were charged with thequest of uncovering these. For me, personally, this proved to be elusive, despite two members of theteam counselling me individually. I eventually narrowed it down to a choice of”Trusting my gut feeling” and “Being a good communicator”,but others in the group had more success. Once the rest of the group had foundtheir core processes, Blakeley and the team were able to suggest methods ofbringing these talents to the fore by identifying how it already workseffectively in their lives. To bring all the different aspects of the day together, we were then askedwhat we wanted to achieved by tomorrow, in two months, by the end of the yearand before we die. The rest of the day was devoted to finding some answers. For me this involved climbing a hill and sitting in the sun, although otherschose to stroll around the lake or sit in the gardens . On returning, Shattockturned the answers into simple diagrams detailing what is important to us asindividuals, where we would like to go and how the core process fits in to itall. Worries and fears were also included to provide a visual interpretation ofeach of our lives at that moment. Drawing the group into a huddle, Blakeley and then had one simple exerciseleft. As a finale we were encouraged to give each other advice based upon whatwe had witnessed in the group. Although it was one of the more unusualexercises we carried out, it did provide an intimate ending to the retreat. In any other circumstances, this would have been a self-conscious experiencebut given the level of confession that had existed over the two days itprovided a fitting conclusion. Indeed, as we left Shattock was to remind us ofSocrates’ words “an unexamined life is not worth living”. Waverley Learning Waverley Learning, which operates out of Waverley Abbey House, offers arange of executive retreat programmes. The HR programme is aimed atstrengthening leadership and how to “exercise leadership for an HRrole” and get you to think deeply about the powerful position you occupywithin an organisation. It is one of several run by Waverley Learning and costs£790 for two days which includes one-to-one coaching, relaxating massage andmeal. Its maximum ratio is six participants to every course director. Remaining retreats this year are 14-15 June, 23-24 July and 5-6 November. Contact 07041 [email protected] With CEOs and senior-level executives being ousted in record times, thepressure on those at the top to deliver has never been greater. All the signsare that executive stress is likely to increase in the next five years andwhile shipping your senior managers off to a health spa can be effective in theshort term, it does not always provide sufficient mental distance from thestress-inducing environment that caused the problems in the first place. Seniormanagers can literally seek sanctuary at the Monastery of Christ the King inCockfosters, which is setting itself up as the ultimate retreat for redressingthe work-life balance. “We believe you need to find stillness,” says Father AnthonySmithwicks. “It is only after you have found complete stillness that youare able to look inside yourself and say ‘there is a me in all of this’.” And Father Anthony should know. A Benedictine monk for more than 15 years,he has spread the good word from South America to New York and Paris. He nowcombines his parish and theological duties with running the adjoiningBenedictine Spiritual Centre, a specially created area of lay retreat. Although the monastery runs specific programmes for executives, there werenone scheduled during my visit so it was largely up to me what I did during mystay, but Father Anthony did discuss the philosophy behind the spiritualcentre. “Our aim is to help people find a better balance between life andwork,” he says. “The idea is to find a level where you are able to removethe persona you project on a daily basis and reveal your hidden gifts. We don’texpect people to take part in anything unless they really want to as we find itusually takes about two to three days for people to get used to beingcomfortable with this. “People have forgotten how to relax,” he says. “Take eating.It is either grabbing a bite on the way out the door, a sandwich on the move orfast food on the way home. Most will also have their dinner in front of the TV.We think eating is very important and that it is important to have a reason toeat and be able to reflect on what you are eating and why.” On the retreat this can mean breaking bread with the brothers or just takingthe time to settle down at a table and reflect. As with the rest of the retreatit is entirely up to the individual, although lunching with the brothers doesmore than introduce you to the intricacies of a Monk’s diet. It is an integral part of maintaining what Father Anthony describes as the”held space” within the retreat centre and monastery, and taking partin some of the daily rituals enables you to feel this sense of support moreacutely. “It’s important, so that you can become still and truly honest withyourself,” he explained. “We are willing to share the burden of yourstress and fears so that you can remove the false persona and display theperson driving it all.” And while this can entail little more than sitting around listening to themonks chant prayers, there are several options available. The retreat is opento both individuals or groups and you can take part in an organised retreatsuch as “Being Human”, “Meditation for Beginners” or”Creative Solitude”. You can also use the monks as a sounding boardto find out more about yourself. While I was there I spoke to David Bowman, a senior environmental adviserwith Shell Oil, who uses the retreat to achieve a better balance between workand family life through talking to the monks and learning about St Benedict’s1,000-year-old philosophy. “A balance has to be found,” he explains.”Your employer’s paying you so you have to give them some respect But whenI first started working for Shell I was moving from Holland to Australia andthe US. I started to think it wasn’t right so I made a conscious decision tomake my family an equal priority. Other people didn’t and many of them sawtheir families disappear in a matter of years.” Father Anthony says, “People come here and they are locked inside thepersona they project around them. By the third or fourth day they have shedeverything. A retreat helps people to establish time for work, time forleisure, times for silence and moments when to speak.” “We try to help people understand their own humanity and show thatspirituality is a part of life, not apart from life. The Benedictine Spiritual Centre The Benedictine Spiritual Centre is attached to the Monastery of Christ theKing, Cockfosters, north-east London.Prices vary according to the type of retreat. Quiet days, including lunchwith the monastic community, cost £12. Overnight accommodation starts at £17for bed and breakfast. Couples are also catered for in a number of double rooms.Organised retreats range from £35 to £280 and are aimed at all sections ofsociety. A Christian theme is in evidence throughout them all, although you donot have to be a believer to take part. The monks share the responsibility forthe retreat with members of the local community who are encouraged to take alead as much as possible.The entire centre can also be hired for £150 a day and a conference roomwith a capacity of 75 is also available for £90. For information call 020-84492499. Alternatively, e-mail [email protected]  Comments are closed. last_img read more

first_img Previous Article Next Article Aren’t employees on fixed-term contracts paid more?On 31 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Ithought people on fixed-term contracts earned more basic pay than permanentstaff but this is not true in my case. I have argued for a salary increase onthe grounds that the only benefit I receive is annual holiday (and that is at alower rate than permanent staff) and been turned down.VicDaniels, director at Carr-Lyons, writes:Certainlythe clients we deal with factor in benefits and bonus payments and you shouldnot be disadvantaged. Having said this, it is easier to negotiate at the outsetrather than to try to alter your terms halfway through a contract. Depending onthe length of the un-expired term of the contract, you might be better offleaving it on this occasion and learning from the experience. By the sound ofit, your pleas for equal treatment are falling on deaf ears anyway and I am afirm believer of only going into a battle if I know I can win.MargaretMalpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning, writes:Ican understand how you feel. I have come across people on fixed term contractswho get more than permanent staff and people who get less. I think the answerlies in what you are providing and how necessary you are to the organisation. Ifyour skills are in short supply then you have more to bargain with. However, ifthe organisation is using fixed-term contracts to increase their resourceswhile keeping its overheads low, I don’t think you have much to work with.Tryto see it from your employer’s point of view and see if you can understandtheir strategy. After this, I think if you really feel it’s unfair, then youmight choose to look for a deal you are happier with. PeterWilford, consultant at Chiumento Consulting Group, writes:Thereis a difference between being a contractor and working on a fixed term contract.Contractors are self-employed and there are strict rules applied by the InlandRevenue governing the definition of self-employment. Being truly self-employeda contractor is responsible for his or her own NI and tax payments and receivesno holiday or sick pay. There are a number of complex criteria to achieve, butessentially the contractor needs to be able to show that he or she worksindependently for a number of organisations. The fact that contractors areself-employed and have to fund pensions, holidays, sickness and any downturn inwork themselves means that they usually receive a higher rate of pay thanemployees.Yoursituation falls somewhere between the two. You should seek some clear guidanceon this from the Inland Revenue in relation to your own position.Ona broader front from your question it is not clear whether pay is the issuehere or whether you are unhappy with your role and work as a whole. You maylike to talk to your personnel department about it in relation to their own specificpolicy for handling contractors’ pay and emoluments. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. LettersOn 29 Jan 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. This week’s lettersLetter of the weekFeedback good, timewasting bad Allowing applicants to read interview notes can be helpful for feedback andshows good recruitment practice (News, 22 January). Managers should be clear about the reasons for non-selection of individuals– someone being clearly unsuitable against the criteria for the role, forexample. HR and line managers should be prepared for the recruitment process inadvance and have the selection criteria ready and clearly understood. Any notestaken should then justify and back-up the decision for or against. However, if candidates can ask to see the notes, there is a danger ofmanagers being left open to constant challenge from unsuccessful candidates,which can be more time consuming than the interviews themselves. In a heavy round of constant interviews, some notes are taken as a reminderfor later and it may not be helpful if the unsuccessful candidate then has theright to read the material. My inclination would be for HR to precis interview notes if asked forfeedback from candidates – ensuring central control – but that there should beno ‘right’ to see the notes. This should remain the decision of the recruitingorganisation. Stephanie Bateman HR Manager, Lease & Loan Insurance Services Recruiting needs a personal touch The article “Net gains” (Feature, 15 January) was excellent, but Ifeel compelled to ask – where does the human element come into this vision ofonline recruitment? It is wonderful to have a totally streamlined recruitment process and vitalto have a quick turnaround for the applicants. But without human contact thereis no communication channel for applicants to offer a perfectly good reason whythey fell short of a 2:1 in their degree, or why they only want to work in theNetherlands. If these answers cannot be sought, especially during a period of skillsshortages, then there is no chance of tracking down applicants with hiddenpromise. Also, what is the point of getting to the interview stage and thendiscovering the candidate has no communication skills? It could happen if noverbal exchange takes place during pre-screening. I feel, therefore, that anautomated recruitment management system, which filters applicants without humaninteraction is not an intelligent way forward. Victoria Phillpot Managing director, Professional Pre-Selection Services It’s not crazy, it’s relative after all Julie Bower’s very large compensation win against Schroder Securities forsex discrimination (News, 15 January) is a good example of relativity. Yes, £1.5m is a crazy sum to most people, but if you work in the City andare on £100,000 basic, potentially earning 10 times that in bonuses, it is notreally that silly a sum. It would have been ridiculous if she had earned£15,000 – but she didn’t. Garry Turner Internal sales representative, Petrochem Carless Technology is no substitute in HR Cable & Wireless’ decision to outsource its HR functions should be acause for concern (News, 8 January). It is not the fact that it has chosen toplace its HR with an outside party that should awaken interest. This in itselfis not an intrinsically bad practice. Rather it is the method in which the roleis being undertaken. The concerning aspect of this decision is that it will be driven bytechnology rather than people. A call centre response service based on computersupport will never be able to match the human feel for company culture, workissues and people. HR deals with issues that touch individuals daily lives andemotions – there is no substitute for human response based on knowledge andunderstanding. There is a great temptation to use automated systems and other forms of ITbecause it is cheap and efficient. But it is extraordinarily difficult to applyto people. You only have to consider how many consumers complain aboutautomated customer response services to begin to understand the problem. Farming out the control of HR should be approached with care and employersshould be extremely cautious about relying on IT to create efficiency savings. Stephen Humphreys Managing director, Projectlink last_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Employers are being warned not to ignore the value of students coming intothe business community on work experience. Over half a million students will be looking for work experience this summerand Liz Rhodes, director of the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE), isurging companies to make the most of a valuable resource: “Summer workexperience students provide the perfect resource to tackle projects, or free-upa permanent member of staff. They also provide access to university resourcesand bring knowledge of new technologies that may otherwise pass a companyby,” she said. The NCWE claims that work experience students can help companies save timeand money and Rhodes suggested that as an outsider they often spot newopportunities. Placements can be arranged independently or as part of a degree course, suchas sandwich schemes, projects or professional practice and often lead topermanent job offers. The NCWE has issued a set of guidelines to ensure organisations get the mostout of work experience placements, including the need to set objectives at theoutset. The guidelines encourage employers to explore ways of providing financialsupport for work placements, such as the STEP programme, which could help withany costs. Employers are advised to be sure that the level of supervision is related tothe degree of responsibility given to the student and that, if paid, studentsare subject to the same tax and NI regulations as any other employee. www.workexperience.org Employers urged to value work experience studentsOn 26 Mar 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article This week’s guruOracle’s talking double dutch over HR’s impact– Guru travelled all the way to Amsterdam only to hear that, in a perfectworld, there would be no such thing as HR professionals. Likening HR to estate agents and lawyers, IT giant Oracle’s vice-presidentof HR claimed business would be better off without us. Apparently, managerscan’t blow their noses without having to talk to us, which undermines theirabilities. Put simply, HR gets in the way, delegates heard at the ENGconference. Well Guru disagrees. If HR is working in an environment such as at Oracle,where it is only seen as a cost and a necessary evil then it will never beallowed to fully contribute. At organisations that have cottoned on to theimportance of talent and strategy to business success, however – see PersonnelToday’s current ‘Delivering HR Strategy’ series (see p20) – HR can be anenabler not a barrier. The only time Guru gets in the way of line managers is when he elbows hisway to the bar on a corporate jolly. – Guru received grave news this week when the powers-that-be ordained hemust get his best shiny-bottomed suit out and lug it to Harrogate for theindustry’s annual outing. What’s worse, he is being forced to do his bit on the Personnel Today stand(B60). Guru has been told to stand there and be nice to people. Guru appeals to anyone out there to make their protests felt at thisflagrant exploitation of the ‘any other duties’ in his contract by e-mailing [email protected] lunch related to the benchIt has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Nonsense. Formany years Guru has been working his way round the eateries of London provingthis theory completely redundant. The ‘fictional’ mouse spotted under the restaurant table, the stray haircunningly placed in the soup and the Michael Winner disguise kit have allhelped to secure gastronomic freebies. However, Guru’s best source ofcharge-free dining is now under threat after the Financial Times cut its expensebudget last week, banning staff from wining and dining key contacts. It brings an end to Guru’s weekly tradition of spouting some old rubbish toa journalist in exchange for a good trough. Sales of the FT will surely plummet while the UK’s high streets becomejammed at lunchtime with industry’s movers and shakers seeking out the bestvalue meal deals. It’s a fare cop for driver Mulopo Personnel Today reported in August on the need for HR departments to reviewtheir policies covering company car drivers as an increasing number are beingcaught on CCTV speeding, committing parking offences and even kerb crawling.Guru thought it unlikely that anyone would be so stupid as totry and pick up a lady of the night in a company vehicle (Guru had a ‘friend’who would hotwire one of his colleagues’ cars before undertaking such shadyactivities), so was astonished to read about a bus driver who was caught kerbcrawling in his double decker after finishing his shift. Everisto Mulopo was nicked when he tried to proposition anundercover officer. Mulopo was subsequently fined £300 by magistrates and sacked byhis employer London United Busways. GuruOn 1 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

first_img Previous Article Next Article Limited numbers of this month’s Occupational Health feature a free CD-Romcareer guide, supplied by recruitment consultancy OH Recruitment. Aimed at OH professionals throughout the UK, this electronic guide isdesigned to help OH nurses enhance their careers. It was developed after a recent survey of 300 OH nurses, conducted by OHRecruitment, found that 44 per cent were unsure where to go for OH courses, and45 per cent were not sure of the difference between each type of qualification.The survey also revealed that 53 per cent do not have a good idea of howtheir salary compares to others doing a similar job. As a result of the survey and a number of in-depth interviews, the guide wasproduced with the following features: a salary survey, OH course advice,professional profiles, job hunting guidelines, how to deal with interviews, developinga career plan, and writing a winning CV. If you would like to request a PDF copy of the CD-Rom, please send ane-mail to [email protected] Free CD-Rom to help enhance your OHN careerOn 1 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. The business Snowdrop Systems is a privately-owned company based in Oxford and Glasgow. It delivers HR and payroll IT software, and employs 98 people. The company currently enjoys a turnover of £5.6m, and has around 500 clients, including the National Assembly for Wales, the UK Passport and Records Agency, and Pret a Manger. The challenge Established in 1991 with just seven employees, the company has undergone ‘managed growth’, expanding in line with customer demand and new opportunities. As this has taken place, managing director Mike Richards, and HR manager Melanie Guy, who came to the company 10 years ago, have worked to ensure that everyone who works for Snowdrop has the right attitude. Their philosophy – ‘Always exceed customer expectation’ – applies to internal customers as much as it does to external clients. In an industry where skilled employees are targeted and lured to new jobs through reward packages and bonuses, the company has sought to engage all its staff with the growth and direction of the company, so that everyone feels their work directly contributes to the organisation’s success. Guy says the process of engaging staff begins at the recruitment stage. While everyone is recruited for their attitude above their skills, a thorough induction programme ensures each newcomer is introduced to every part of the company. “Employees spend about half an hour with each team leader so they know where they fit in with the company and how everyone’s role relates to them,” says Guy. The role of introducing newcomers to each team doesn’t rest with one sole member of that team, but is passed around – thereby ensuring one person isn’t permanently on the welcoming committee. The company’s business plan is included in the company handbook, and made freely available via the staff intranet. “From day one, we make sure there isn’t a secretive approach,” says Guy. “Everyone can see where we’re going as a company and what we’re striving for as a team. There are no pockets of people who know things other people don’t.” While this approach applies for all employees, the company introduced a special 18-month graduate induction programme at a point when it only had 15 employees. Graduates are exposed to all areas of the business and given real responsibility in their first roles. A mentoring scheme means that each recruit has someone they can turn to for support, advice or general conversation. Moreover, because the company attaches importance to these relationships, the mentor can deliver this support whenever required without it interfering with their own work. For compensation and benefits, all employees have access to information relating to forthcoming bonuses according to department and overall company performance. This means employees can see the effects of their work in real time. Twelve months ago, the company created the Reward Room, an initiative that offers high-performing staff a choice of rewards as a result of their work. On one occasion, a recipient chose a fireworks display, which allowed everyone to watch and celebrate. “It’s designed to be visual and contribute to our team ethic,” says Guy. “It’s not an expensive approach, but it is a productive one, because there’s always great excitement when someone realises they’ve been selected for the room.” The outcome The company enjoys staff turnover of 10 per cent, and was selected as one of The Sunday Times’ 50 Best Small Companies to work for, based on employee response. While there is a trend for IT graduates to take a first job before moving on to larger and more responsible roles with other companies, Snowdrop has retained the majority of its graduates, with four of the current management team being original graduate recruits. The employee perspective Eric McDonogh is 24 years old and has been employed by Snowdrop for two years. He is proud of the fact that he designed the computer interface that is now used by 7,000 police service employees in the UK. “Working for Snowdrop means you can learn more and really make a difference to the company,” he says. “It’s not for everyone, but there’s more scope for seeing the result of your work here than there is with a big employer. “A lot of the people you work with in the company are also your friends,” he notes. “Because you socialise and celebrate with one another, it means you have a shorthand when it comes to working together.” A one-time winner of access to the Reward Room, McDonogh values all the compensations Snowdrop delivers to its employees – from the annual bonuses, to the surprise work parties. HR learning pointsGenerate ideas to keep employees engaged in-house and incorporate ideas suggested by staffEnsure you develop staff. Guy, for example, came to the company in a sales and marketing capacity, and gained her CIPD qualification after assuming her HR role. Comments are closed. A happy engagementBy Simon Kent on 12 Oct 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more