Tag Archive for employability

The Technology Miracle

I was lucky enough to spend 3 days at the Paralympics in London a few weeks ago. it was an inspiring and humbling experience that I will remember forever, not least because the stadium is about 10 minutes away from where I went to School, and I had an office opposite the station in the dark old days. I wanted to write about what I took away from being there, but not in a gushy or clichéd way. I’m not one for what recruiting and HR can learn from the Paralympics type blogger. There are many blogs like that you can read on the topic.

The big thing for me, apart from the fantastic sporting spectacle was the fantastic ways in which technology was used in virtually every event to solve very real physical challenges, from prosthetic legs through to the one-armed Canadian archer who had a custom-made device on the top of his shoulder that enabled him to stretch the bow-string, aim and fire with his chin.

What I took away from this is the many ways technology and imagination can make things better. It is about moving the mind-set from believing opportunity to change and improve is limited by barriers, or because there are barriers, and considering how can we fix the problem? Forget what is the normal way of doing things, look at the problems and figure out the solutions enabled by technology.With attitude and technology we can fix anything by looking at the task and what needs to happen, and bridging the gap between the problem and the solution with clever technology.

I think this has important implications for work when considering the issues of disability and employability. My experience as a recruiter is that the reality of employing anyone who doesn’t fit the normal employee mode has been around quotas and legality. Employers have looked at reasons why people can’t do a job, and consider what could be done with technology to solve any work place difficulties. The interesting conversation coming from the athletes was how the difference with this Paralympics was that they were compared as athletes rather than those guys in wheelchairs having a day out. The supporters were able to see beyond their disability and see them as supreme athletes. Wouldn’t it be a real legacy if we could compare potential employees in the same way, as candidates for a job to be judged equally? The miracle of technology and innovation means that with a little imagination we can solve any physical barriers that might be in the way. If it works in sport, why not the rest of life, particularly work?



Guest post: Transforming the UK graduate market

Today’s guest post is by David Hoghton-Carter, Programme Director, Minerva Pathway. I met David at #GEC12 last week. I like the way he thinks about the real issue of employability for the average graduate i:e: Not born with a silver spoon.  He has set up a social enterprise to help tackle the problem. I’m glad to give him blog room to promote it. This is David:

Back in 2009, the Parliamentary Panel on Fair Access to the Professions under the leadership of Alan Milburn published its “Unleashing Aspiration” report . This highlighted the increasing social exclusivity of the professions and the severe difficulties faced by talented, aspirational young people attempting to access a professional career.

Just under a fortnight ago, on the same day as I met our good host Bill at Gradcore’s Graduate Employment Conference, Mr Milburn published an update to the report . The predictable verdict: this problem has only worsened in the last three years, and the decline in social mobility in the UK isn’t just a factor of the current recession.

There is a harsh reality behind the stats. Everyone knows the graduate job market is in a parlous state. Dozens of people chase each vacancy. Connections and networking are much more important than talent and ability. The internship dynamic often means that only those who can afford to work on very low pay (or often unpaid), in London, for many months can gain the experience they need to compete effectively for an entry-level professional job. As a consequence, anyone from a disadvantaged background – no matter how able and aspirational – is almost always going to be out-competed by default. Graduates from the regions find it even more difficult still. This situation isn’t anyone’s fault, and trying to apportion blame is counter-productive. It’s merely a fact of our economy, it has been since well before the recession, and it will be well into the future.

What to do? What do we need to do to solve this problem?

Campaigning? There are plenty of campaigns around the internship issue, doing good work in highlighting the stark contrast between best practice work placement opportunities and the real-terms employment rights abuses in the darker corners of the graduate market. I’ve included a few links below. There’s an urgent need for a change in the internship dynamic, and these campaigns are increasingly successful in dragging the internship market into the 21st century, sometimes kicking and screaming.

Raising aspirations? Aspiration-building isn’t a problem. There is plenty of aspiration amongst today’s young people, and organisations like the Social Mobility Foundation  and Envision  are helping to harness and channel it in positive ways. The rhetoric of aspiration has been at the heart of policy initiatives by successive governments, even as real-terms access to opportunity has failed to keep pace.

More careers advice? And there are plenty of good careers advisory services and recruitment services, with some great examples of forward-thinking practice amongst prominent organisations and companies. KPMG , for example, has a very strong internal training programme, which the rest of the graduate market would do well to learn from. And Minerva Pathway’s friends at Gradcore  are doing good work in raising awareness and working with a range of other companies to create high-quality graduate programmes.

But the problem of fast-withering social mobility continues, and the failure of Alan Milburn’s “potential social mobility dividend” remains.

That’s why there’s a need for Minerva Pathway . To build a coherent, scalable solution which supports and enables graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds to do what they need to do in order to build a career. To provide a skills package which can give programme participants a head start in the career race. And to help build positive links and networks.

The Minerva Pathway vision for change isn’t just about giving a few people a leg up, though, and it certainly isn’t crude social engineering. We’re more ambitious than that. We have a broad vision for the future graduate economy, focused on ensuring that regional graduates can access the support they need to help grow the graduate job market outside of London, first in the north of England, later nationally. We aim to make sure everyone languishing in the vast pool of wasted graduate talent has a chance to be innovative and entrepreneurial and to contribute to regional communities.

You can read more about the programme we’re developing on our website  and there’s plenty of added detail about our vision in our Development Diary . We also Tweet avidly, from @MinervaPathway ( @DAHoghtonCarter is my personal account, which you’re also welcome to follow), and we welcome contact through our website .

For your further edification:

Graduate Fog
Interns Anonymous 

With thanks to Bill for the opportunity to contribute

Graduates And Employability #GEC12

Last week I spoke at a great conference/unconference in Leeds, the Graduate Employability Conference 2012, organised by the team at Gradcore. I really enjoy this event. partly for the topics and also because Martin Edmondson has been brave enough to run a half day conference and a half day unconference. It’s a formula that works well.
This is the second year I have spoken at this event. It’s always interesting to go back as a returner and see what, if anything has changed. As i have done in the past, I like to write my thoughts on a blank sheet of paper in no particular order and share what stands out. These are my thoughts:

>The cost of education is rising steeply. whilst entry-level salaries are decreasing.

> For the second year running, a student stated they received no advice or training in social media, whilst the employability departments insist they deliver classes and advice.

> 70% of career service time is spent helping write CV’s rather than giving advice. This seems a huge waste.

> Theres limited use of alumni groups, with little mention of mentoring.

> Social media training is delivered in the classroom, delivered formally. I think this needs a more social approach through mentors etc.

> If you want to get something ignored by students, put it on a poster or notice board.

> The main method of communication between the careers office and students is e-mail. There is little use of social or mobile text messaging.

> The average entry salary outside of London is below the £20k needed for an overseas student to gain a work visa.

> In the US, the quality of a course is judged by the cost of learning rather than the quality of the course. This pushes up the cost of education.

> Research indicates that newly qualified graduates will need additional training to be ready for work. Graduates offer potential for the future, but not potential now.

> An increasing number of students are leaving study before qualifying to open a business, or starting a business on leaving. It was noticeable that some universities now support and encourage entrepreneurship. This needs to grow and spread to all Universities.

> The careers service is focused on the top employers such as the big 4, whilst the majority of the open opportunities are with S.M.E,;s

> The first person a student should meet when they arrive at University is the careers officer.

> Recruiters underestimate the difficulties faced by newly qualified students, in particular with regards relocation.

> Much work is needed promoting brand “student” to SME’s. The jobs are with the SME’s but there is work to be done selling the benefit of employing a grad.

> When funding was available for internships and student placements, 70% of the placements resulted in full-time hires. Government should be looking to incentivize companies to hire students, and support them in relocation.

These are the main things I remember from the event.


Situations Vacant: Crazy warlord for high paying research post. Pharmaceutical #OHISHRM

This is the fourth time I’ve written this post, to introduce the conversation I’m going to be hosting on Thursday for Ohio SHRM. Part of what I’m going to be talking about, and the questions I’m going to be asking revolve around the skills gap and employability, and how this impacts on HR thinking. I had the post nailed, then I had a conversation with John Sumser, and he pointed me towards a post that was out today that really illustrates this point.
One of the things I’m going to be looking at is how work is changing globally. When we look at the what is termed the war for talent, there isn’t really a war at all.How can there be when unemployment is rising in most western economies?
At the same time, there are increased numbers of reported job openings most months. We have more jobs, and more unemployed. There is a serious gap between the perceived skills of the unemployed and the talent that’s being sought.
The gap lies in our education systems and  employability preparation delivered in university establishments across the world.Compare the figures for vocational study against what I would term “recreational” study delivered and taken up around the globe. Work is changing fast, and education is lagging far behind, hence the reason for the gap, and it is a real problem for the unemployed.
Those with the skills that are needed are already employed. The real war is in hiring other people’s talent, and in implementing the right initiatives. to keep the talent you have. Talent retention is probably more important than talent attraction right now, and a big part of retention is in skills development right now.How many companies focus on retention first as the number one challenge, identifying what really motivates people out of the text-book, and delivering that within an organisation through real internal mobility, security and other initiatives that keep people in the business. It’s a lot cheaper and less risk to keep the people you have and develop them, and a lot less risk, than it is going out and hiring.
The recovery we have seen has been well described as the jobless recovery. Demand has shifted to knowledge workers in areas like technology, consulting, information, data and the sectors that support for industries, 1000′s of jobs have been lost in sectors like manufacturing where any recovery has been automation lead. The jobs for those laid off just don’t exist. Should Governments be looking at pumping money in to job creation in ailing industries, or would it be better spent on education and employability?
The next real question is what education should look like, and how we should gauge knowledge and skills. We are still largely led by academic qualification. Training and learning is still increasingly driven by curriculum, exams and certification, but does this really tell us anything about the people we need to employ? I’m seeing a trend in my own profession, recruiting, where training providers and trade bodies are moving towards this, increasingly championing their latest accreditation with one university or another. Are these qualifications a reflection on employbility or suitability?
Here comes the next challenge, the way in which people learn now to the way in which we learnt in the past. The skill sets needed for the new economy are largely learnt by doing rather than thinking and studying. A clear example of this prompted this change of post.
Gamers, using gaming technology and skills honed over hours on gaming platforms have cracked a problem that academic scientists have been puzling over and failing for the last 10- years.

The problem solved is huge and could lead to a cure for aids. real, life changing stuff.
To understand why the gamers could do what the scientists couldn’t, you need to look at some of the characteristics of your average world of warcraft gamer.

High level problem solving skills.

Dedicated to finding solutions to new, complex problems.

Driven by achievement and recognition.

Seeing the game not the problem

Technology savvy.

It could also be argued that they are great at leadership, recruiting armies, keeping them happy and leading them in to battle, while working out the best strategy and keeping an eye on what stock you have to fight future battles.Lotsof skills that could be transferable to a range of situations.

I love the story of the gamers doing what the scientists and academics couldn’t do, but it does challenge the status quo on how and who we hire, where we might find them, reward them and manage them. I’m really looking forward to discussing this and other areas that span the globe, as well as giving some real examples of how things are changing.

From what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to be in great company.

Ohio, thanks for having me!


Will Gaamers Discover The Cure For Aids