WORKFORCE BLOG

Skills for All and Opportunities for You

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Skills for All, the Strategic Direction for Vocational Education and Training in South Australia 2011-2014 has been published and was great weekend reading with the pink highlighter pen out!

What does Skills for All offer?

  • extra $194 million over the next 6 years for an additional 100 000 places
  • transition to a National VET Regulator in 2011
  • income contingent loans and concession fees for low income earners
  • Skills in the Workplace initiative to upskill employees in support of their workforce development – sharing the costs with government where more than 200 employees – at least 50%; 100-199 employees at least 25%; less than 100 employees at least 10%
  • independent and endorsed workforce development advisors
  • subsidies – full for Cert I and II; 80% for Cert III and IV; 70% for Dip and Adv Dip; up to 100% for priority qualifications, critical skills and specialised occupations
  • designated skills set training once/year based upon advice from industry
  • move towards fully contestable training market
  • from 1.7.11 the Office of TAFE SA will be formed
  • training information portal
  • plain language document on provider services and outcomes for students, awareness of opportunities to feedback concerns or complaints from students and regular info campaigns
  • $6.4 million in additional funding for foundation skills and Adult and Community Education (ACE)
  • reduction in VET cost per hour closer to the national VET average
  • Skills for All providers will receive subsidies for delivery in rural locations that reflect additional costs with thin markets
  • targeted professional development initiatives that address contemporary education and training and workforce development practice
  • nominated capability building initiatives to ensure good practice for providers
  • a new Employer Recognition Program initially recognising employers of apprentices and expanding over time for employers who are committed to developing the skills of their workforce
  • employers co-investment with Government in integrate workforce development plans, encourage industry uptake of workforce development, industry investment and skill development for new and emerging industries and technologies
  • workforce development support including toolkits, workshops and resources

So here’s some ideas on what to consider now so you are ready for the roll out:

  • training providers must demonstrate the demand for skills and jobs, links to industry and funding required – this means taking an evidence based approach and analysing workforce, industry and regional demand
  • registration and qualification requirements as a Skills for All training provider – this is additional to the minimum AQTF standards and you’ll need to be on the look out for when DFEEST releases the requirements
  • increased focus on recognition of prior learning and identifying student learning needs – think about RPL as opt out of not op in and who you can tap into for learner support
  • at enrolment students and their provider will develop a customised training plan – do you already have this in place or will you need to develop a template and tools?
  • the subsidy price will be paid monthly to qualified providers based upon module completions – how will your cash flow work and what systems will you need to put in place for reporting?
  • one website will have information about Skills for All providers – how will you keep this up to date and what about your own website, maybe time for review and some advice?
  • DFEEST will provide information to students – how could you maximise this promotional opportunity and do you need to rethink your marketing strategy?
  • ACE partners – who do you know?  who can you work with? do/can/will you deliver foundation skills?
  • VET costing – do you know all the inputs, all the outputs and the return on the investment?
  • Delivery in rural locations – get familiar with the Accessibility Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) to determine regional loadings and classify your target markets based upon industries, student cohorts and regions – locality, SLA and postcode are important data sets here
  • need to better engage and support SME’s – facilitate a workforce development style conversation and identify all their needs
  • employer recognition – what about the commitment of your own organisation to workforce development?  are you leading the way?
  • focus on workforce development – this is moving beyond training and assessment and workforce skills development towards a workforce planning approach

What’s next – have a look at the key implementation milestones with the Skills in the Workplace program due for August 2011 with most activities kicking off publicly from June 2011 through until 2012-13.

Make sure you subscribe for further updates and what you are looking forward to?

Top tips for your first full time job

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Where do you look for your first full time job?  It can seem daunting and hard to get started so here are 6 steps.

First of all brainstorm the type of job you’d like, the industry and the type of company you want to work for.  Think about the hours, environment and location you would like to work in.  Have a short plan on what you are going to do to get the result of winning that first job.

Secondly do some research to develop your database of potential employers via the internet (Google, Facebook, industry/professional associations and company websites), local phone book, papers and family/friends networks.

Thirdly understand the best way to approach your database – does the company specify inquiries and applications via the web only, via email, only in response to an advertisement, or do they welcome direct contact via phone or face to face.  Some employers think that by calling in to their business you are showing initiative and they get to meet you but for others it’s probably not appropriate.

The fourth step is to change your introductory letter/email and resume to suit the company – use the same key words that they do on their website or in company documents and try to match your experience to their jobs.  Ask for help from family members, friends and other people you know in business – many people are very well networked and happy to help you out.  Check if you need any licences or minimum training for example to work in the building and construction industry you’ll need a white card and to work in a hotel, you’ll need responsible service of alcohol.

Fifth be aware of the different ways that you could be employed by a company including Australian Apprenticeships and federal or state/territory government initiatives and use this to your advantage by including information in your pitch to potential employers.  Also be aware that potential employers may use the internet to search on your name so check what’s out there about you and think about how things like your Facebook status updates, posts and photos could be seen.

Finally, keep going with your plan as sometimes it can take a little while, change things if they aren’t working for you and above all ask for help with your search.

Workforce profiling for an island or region

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Identifying current skills needs by employers in existing employees and their future workforce and profiling the workforce for an island or a region enables better informed decision making and longer term workforce development strategies.

Analysing the results can provide regional and industry development agencies, local networks, government and funding bodies with insight into strengths vs sustainability, community assets and common development needs.

Collect information and data such as numbers employed by industry, age profile, gender, employment status, skill level, advertised vacancies by month, job type, location, skill level and industry.

Ask business owners about their workforce issues and challenges, the skills needs for their employees and themselves and aggregate the results with the most common development needs.

Design a skills profile that includes foundation skills, transferable skills and job specific skills and map to units of competency from National Training Packages with Skillsbook to make formal recognition and the purchase of training and assessment services easier.

Validate the data analysis, skills profile and dig a bit deeper with businesses to understand what is really casing them problems and what solutions could work.

Summarise the results and trends making recommendations that can be implemented by local people with an action plan.

Publish the report, present the information to all stakeholders including the businesses in the survey, follow through with the actions and keep the action plan as a standing item for the local network with projects and funding built from it.

Move towards a workforce plan for the island or region and for each of the organisations by helping them assess the health of their business, provide support, information, education and mentoring.  Work with the businesses on immediate human resource management issues, strategic planning and chat quickly then do.

Paid Parental Leave

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Australia’s Paid Parental Leave starts on 1 January 2011 with links to relevant websites below:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/

Information for employers starts here:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/employers–what-will-i-need-to-do.php

Details on eligibility:

http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/working-parents—eligibility.php

Paid Parental Leave Comparison Estimator:

http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/individuals/ppl_working_parents_estimator.htm

Comments in the media:

http://www.theage.com.au/national/paid-parental-leave-the-icing-on-the-cake-for-new-mothers-20110101-19cm3.html

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s3105655.htm

What do you think?

How to build a Competency Framework

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First of all why do you want to build one?

Often it’s because people ask for training and development that may not be directly related to their job role, it may be dealt with ad hoc and often training needs aren’t aggregated at an organisational, project or team level.

Another reason could be that you are looking for an evidence based approach to assessing skill level and performance, you may be recruiting, looking at career progression or you may want to demonstrate your workforce capability for a tender, proposal, project or industry awards.

Whatever the reason, I suggest you start with the end in mind – what are you wanting as the out and outcomes and then work your way back.

Secondly, who needs to be involved to validate and who needs to be briefed and kept up to date with the framework as it develops.  Communication and consultation is absolutely critical so work out who are your audiences, what do you need to say, when and how often, and what communication methods will you use including existing communication channels.  Utilising a group of people representing their job roles, especially if they are well networked in their area is a good way to go.  Help them to know the purpose of the framework, what it will be used for and their knowledge, experience and understanding of the job roles in the framework to validate the competency and skills profiles.

Thirdly, think about the structure which needs to mirror the organisation or client (could be internal or external like a project) you are working with.  I like the structure of core competencies i.e. everybody needs these, functional competencies including leadership i.e. some people need different functions, and job specific competencies i.e. skills that make 1 job role different to another.  Draw a diagram of the competency framework and have the map to relevant skills sitting behind it.

Fourthly, what can we use the framework for?  Training and development needs analysis,performance management, competency based job descriptions and recruitment, career and succession planning, evidence against industry standards and for tenders, proposals, marketing and promotions.

A final word on who needs a framework – well it’s up to you!  I have developed a framework for a 1 person business up to a government department with 43 000 people because they had very real business reasons to build one in the first place.

Updating your workforce plan

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Generally when you write a workforce plan you cover the same time frame as the organisation’s strategic plan which could be 5, 3, 5, 10 or 20 years depending on your industry and budget cycles.

I like to review my workforce plan every 6 months or if there has been a major workforce change or refocus of the business.  For our workforce plan from 2009-2012 we are coming up to version number 4 as January 2011 will give us some time to see where we are up to and what we have achieved.

We haven’t changed our vision, mission, goals or values but the details in our strategic priorities have shifted a little bit as we have recently undertaken an exercise to simplify our brands and further segment our target markets.

As job roles change and we implement workforce development strategies, the framework that measures our workforce capability also needs to change and expand and we will revisit our demand and supply forecasting to see if we are on track.

The workforce planning process basically results in identifying strategies and actions to be put in places to bridge the gap between your current and future workforce.  Here’s an easy to use workforce planning template or a  checklist if you have already developed a workforce plan.

Recognition

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Yesterday I attended a CEDA luncheon with Hugh Mackay on his new book What makes us tick: The ten desires that drive us.

Hugh covered the ten desires including:

The desire to be taken seriously

The desire for ‘my place’

The desire for something to believe in

The desire to connect

The desire to be useful

The desire to belong

The desire for more

The desire for control

The desire for something to happen

The desire for love

Mackay asserts that the desire to be taken seriously is the most important one, “Not seriously as in ‘Oh what a serious person!’ but seriously as in ‘Please recognise and acknowledge me as an individual.’ (p.2)

So how does this apply to workforce management?  Well I’d suggest this desire relates to every aspect of working effectively with people – recognising their achievements, skills, performance, career aspirations, leadership, issues, ideas, work load, work-life balance and the importance of engaging people in decision making, problem solving and change implementation.  A good reminder really of the need to practice recognising people every day.

Workforce Development funding

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So where to look for funding opportunities to support your workforce development project or training of your staff?  Here’s a couple of sites and links you might find useful with programs funded by the Australian Government:

Critical Skills Investment Fund

Workforce Innovation Program

Clean Sustainable Skills Package

Teaching and Learning Capital Fund

Workplace English Language and Literacy Program

Productivity Places Program

Industry Training Strategies Program

Jobs Fund

Innovation Fund

Applications for Training Grants

Family Centred Employment Project

Social Enterprise Development and Investment Fund

IBSA supporting Workforce Development

Ausindustry Programs and Grants

Enterprise Connect Services and Grants

Grantslink

Post your links of funds and grants you know of and look out for a new blog post with state and territory specific funding information soon.

Clever Brainstorming Techniques

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I’m always looking for innovative ways to think up new projects; about problems and answers; and to understand workforce issues and opportunities.

Recently I came across Speed Thinking by Ken Hudson which has 4 steps:

1. Start – brainstorm 9 ideas in 2 minutes (individually or in a group)

2. Evaluate – in 2 minutes pick the best idea in 2 minutes

3. Build – make this 1 idea 9 times better in 2 minutes

4. Action – identify 9 action steps in 2 minutes

Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim & Renee Mawborgne 2005 aims to create value innovation with their 4 actions framework:

– Reduce – Which factors should be reduced?

– Create – Which factors should be created?

– Raise – Which factors should be raised?

– Eliminate – Which of the factors should be eliminated?

Think Better by Tim Hurson says productive thinking in action starts with:

– What’s the itch?

-What’s the impact?

-What’s the information

– What do you know and wonder?

-Who’s involved?

-What the vision?

Thinking differently doesn’t often come naturally and using these techniques moves you away from looking at things in the same old way.

99 Ways to Retain Good Staff

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At a recent Enterprise Connect workforce re-engineering network meeting, participants took on the challenge of coming up with 99 ways to retain good staff.  Here’s the results – we got to 63 so what else would you add?

  1. Rubber chicken award – recognition of a job well done
  2. Clear career pathways
  3. Exchange programs – across the organisation, outside and back again
  4. Defined expectations from the team member and manager
  5. Understanding of the psychological contract and unwritten agreements
  6. Two-way, meaningful communication
  7. Performance – defining good and poor performance
  8. Input into decision making
  9. Empathy and understanding for issues outside of work
  10. Team discussions, meetings and planning
  11. Democratic workplace and included
  12. Birthday leave – leave day for your birthday
  13. Flexibility with work commitments – early/late start
  14. Professional development
  15. Events, dinners and industry functions – BBQ’s, Melbourne Cup, lunches, Christmas
  16. Conferences and travelling
  17. Boss willing to work alongside staff
  18. Nice work environment
  19. Positive atmosphere
  20. Health and well being programs, flu shots, checks
  21. Free drinks machine, tea, coffee and biscuits
  22. Years of service awards
  23. Bring your partners along to special events
  24. Gifts, thank you, pressies and awards
  25. Transport provide for special occasions
  26. Know your staff well – personal interests, partner and kids names
  27. Balance in the team – experience, knowledge, skills, generations
  28. Find out what people want to be known for
  29. What do people say and think about you?
  30. Accommodation and housing
  31. Project based opportunities
  32. Exciting work
  33. Clear about future directions
  34. Access to the boss
  35. Multi skilling
  36. Find out what work people want to do
  37. Share management duties such as chairing meetings
  38. Activities to support charities and volunteer
  39. Public acknowledgement
  40. Massages, mini breaks
  41. Listening
  42. Photos, video of career history
  43. Wellness programs
  44. Work sports teams and leagues
  45. Manage the poor performers
  46. Toolbox chats
  47. Social and environmental responsibility initiatives
  48. Competency based recruitment and selection
  49. Match ethos and values
  50. Attitude over aptitude
  51. Set goals and review regularly
  52. Build your own training centre – pride and joy to conduct own training
  53. Ask why do you stay?
  54. Immaculate facility
  55. Social club and activities
  56. Demonstrate good management in the tough times with clear communication
  57. Internal mentors
  58. Mid-career opportunities – networking of similar cohort across the organisation
  59. Higher education opportunities – complete a Masters degree as a group
  60. Phased retirement
  61. Surprises – nice ones
  62. Exercise program – Pilates as a group
  63. Gym program to support physical requirements of the job