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We are witnessing the emergence of a new working poor

Brian Howe April 20, 2012

The divide between blue and white-collar workers has become much uglier.

THERE is a new divide in the Australian workforce. It is no longer between the blue-collar and white-collar worker, but between those in the “core” of the workforce and those on the “periphery”. Those in the core are likely to be in full-time employment, either permanently within organisations, in management positions, or possessing skills for which there is steady demand and for which they can charge a premium. They are likely to have sick leave, paid holidays and in many cases parental leave above the government’s minimum standard. For them, flexibility means the chance to work in a variety of industries, to work overseas, to earn good money freelancing or in a secure part-time arrangement. Periods of unemployment are likely to be short or voluntary.

Those on the periphery are employed on various insecure arrangements – casual, contract or through labour hire companies, on low wages and with no benefits. Many do not know what hours they will work from week to week, and often juggle multiple jobs to attempt to earn what they need. Their skills are low, or outdated, and they are not offered training through work. They shift between periods of unemployment and underemployment that destroy their ability to save money. Their work is not a “career”; it is a series of unrelated temporary positions that they need to pay rent, bills and food.

For them, flexibility is not knowing when and where they will work, facing the risk of being laid off with no warning, and being required to fit family responsibilities around unpredictable periods of work. For many, life on the periphery is not a temporary situation; there is no pathway into the core. For the past six months I have been the chair of an inquiry, commissioned by the ACTU, into the phenomenon of insecure work. In hundreds of submissions, and during hearings around the country, we have come across a multitude of stories from people on the periphery.

Although 40 per cent of Australian workers are in insecure work, this is a development of the Australian economy that has avoided proper examination for too long. For people in their late 20s, with children and mortgages and no time to retrain; or older men in their 50s who have lost full-time work, this is their permanent position. Increasing numbers of workers are engaged in unpredictable, uncertain work that undermines their security.

Others fear that the loss of a good secure job will push them into the world of insecure work they see around them. This uncertainty makes people more sensitive to rises in interest rates, power bills and petrol prices. For the first time in our history since Federation, Australia is seeing the development of a working poor. As long as we can retain our relatively high minimum wages and public health system, we will not see the extremes of poverty of the United States, but we will see a society with families where one or both parents work, but who are unable to save or own a home, and remain vulnerable to the slightest financial crisis.

What this means for social mobility and social cohesion is the great unknown, and a subject that is only obliquely referred to in political debate. This is particularly the case when combined with a growing number of inter-generational jobless households. The economic changes of the past two decades cannot be unwound. But the unforeseen consequences of insecure work must be addressed to continue to produce jobs that will preserve the Australian social contract that has provided a decent welfare safety net, and a chance at social mobility, for generations of citizens and migrants.

Changes are needed not only to our employment and labour laws, but to the role of government and the social security and tax transfer systems, to education, training and labour market transitions and, yes, to our trade unions. We are witnessing the emergence of a new working poor

Brian Howe April 20, 2012

Brian Howe is a former deputy prime minister of Australia.

 This is an edited extract of a speech he gave to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/we-are-witnessing-the-emergence-of-a-new-working-poor-20120419-1x9z2.html#ixzz1sYkesXq6

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Leon Gettner
June 30, 2010

Lying about careers is common. Two years ago, I did a blog entry looking at how more people were now lying on the CVs, making up stories about their academic background and achievements.

But then, embellishing the truth a little might be part of human nature, something I examined here. That suggests there are plenty around who bend the truth about their career. How far do people go? When do white lies become a problem?

According to Forbes, the most common porkies on people’s CVs are about academic qualifications, playing with dates, inflating your previous salary, making up job titles you never had, lying about technical abilities, claiming language fluency, providing a fake address and inflating your academic performance.

Of course, there are many who say you shouldn’t do it. For example, this piece from The Wall Street Journal warns that honesty is the best policy and you’ll be found out anyway.

Similarly, academics from the Wharton Business School in the United States warn that it’s dangerous. “Embellishment is part of human nature, experts say, and almost everyone is guilty of it at one time or another. Left unchecked, however, exaggerations that seemed innocuous at first could result in serious, potentially career-ending consequences … In today’s work environment, where no one comes in for a job interview without being Googled first — and where small talk in the elevator or comments made at a staff meeting are just a Twitter post away from reaching a global audience — it’s easier than ever to get caught in an exaggeration”

But others take a more nuanced view. Kelly Magowan in the Six Figures blog asks, for example, whether it’s actually lying if we gild the lily a little to make the CV look more interesting. “A bit of embellishment and ‘white lying’ make it far more interesting for the reader and more likely to get you the job. Let’s face it – we all lie. Albeit, the frequency and degree to which we all lie may vary.”

Writing in the Financial Times, columnist Lucy Kellaway says embellishing the truth comes naturally for many. “Lying is surely caused as much by pragmatism as fear. In my experience, it can be jolly useful. And tests have shown that it doesn’t always catch up with you at al.” Kellaway says comoulsive truth tellers don’t last very long in any office. Sooner or later, they are forced out because no one can work with them. “Offices are glued together with lies. We pretend to like people we work with. We must pretend to be satisfied with our jobs. We must pretend to think our company is better than the competition. By accepting a place in any hierarchy, you are bending yourself out of shape.”

At the same time, you would have to say that that in today’s work environment where there is so much pressure to perform, the temptation to bend the truth has never been greater.

So what would you do if there is an inconvenient truth in your past? Do you gloss over it, make something up or come clean? What do you think about bending the truth on a CV? Is it ok, or unacceptable? Do you know of anyone who has? Or have you done it? What did you say?

May 20, 2009 – 10:11AM

Google, concerned by the recent departures of several top executives, has developed an algorithm to try to identify which employees are likely to quit, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal said the internet search and advertising giant had turned to mathematical formulas because it was “concerned a brain drain could hurt its long-term ability to compete.”

The newspaper said Google examined data from employee reviews and promotion and pay histories to try to identify which of its 20,000 employees were most likely to leave the California-based company.

Laszlo Bock, who runs human resources for Google, told the Journal the algorithm helps the company “get inside people’s heads even before they know they might leave.”

The newspaper said Google officials were reluctant to share details of the formula, which is still being tested, but it had already identified employees “who felt underused, a key complaint among those who contemplate leaving.”

Edward Lawler, director of the Centre for Effective Organisations at the University of Southern California, told the Journal Google was “clearly ahead of the curve” in taking a more quantitative approach to personnel decisions.

The Journal quoted current and former Google employees as saying the company is losing talent because some employees feel they can’t make the same impact as the company matures.

Recent departures from Google include Tim Armstrong, a senior vice president, who left in March to head AOL, display-advertising chief David Rosenblatt, and Asia-Pacific and Latin America president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy.

Others who have left recently for start-ups such as Facebook and Twitter include lead designer Doug Bowman, engineering director Steve Horowitz and search-quality chief Santosh Jayaram, the Journal said.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/biztech/algorithm-spots-quitters-before-they-resign/2009/05/20/1242498783966.html

THERE will be a severe skills shortage in Australia when the economic downturn subsides, an employment services group says.

More than 43,000 skilled workers joined the ranks of the unemployed in the opening months of 2009, new research shows.

There are now 133,700 unemployed skilled workers, according to the data by specialist employment services group Clarius.

Clarius executive manager Kym Quick said it was a temporary situation.

“At some point down the track we will be back in the same scenario that we were several years ago where we will have severe skills shortages,” Ms Quick told ABC Television

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25498843-5005961,00.html

Rebecca Smith
May 13, 2009

Rebecca Smith: ”To invest in research is to invest in society’s long-term well-being.”
In the last quarter of 2008, a significant group of Australians was living below the poverty line. For a single person, this meant living on less than $415.06 a week. These people were working full time — 40 hours a week, and probably much more. They received no employer superannuation and weren’t entitled to concessions or pensions.

Who were they? Illegal migrant workers? Sweatshop employees unaware of their rights? No — they were some of Australia’s best and brightest minds: PhD students.

A PhD is a long-term research project. PhD students take up these projects after undergraduate studies. They work for about four years to train as independent researchers with the aim of making a significant contribution to knowledge. If successful, a PhD student is awarded a doctorate (D) of philosophy (Ph) and can begin a research career.

Research into the fundamental questions of science and the humanities is what drives a society forward. The application of the resultant knowledge makes a society healthier, wealthier, happier and more productive. To invest in research is to invest in a society’s long-term well-being.

Four reports into research and higher education were delivered to the Government in 2008, and each recommended increasing the nation’s investment in research and development.

In response, the 2009-10 budget increased funding to science and innovation by 25 per cent. For the basic research administered by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Australian Research Council, funds were increased by 8 per cent overall.

These increases will go some way to improving Australia’s gross expenditure on research and development, which was last measured at 2.01 per cent of GDP, below the 2.26 per cent OECD average.

But the budget was another disappointment to PhD students. Their stipends will increase 10 per cent from $20,427 in 2009 to $22,500 in 2010. This is an improvement relative to the 2 per cent increase between 2008 ($20,007) and 2009, but nowhere near what is needed.

The 2008 Parliamentary Inquiry into Research Training and Research Workforce Issues recommended increasing PhD scholarships by 50 per cent to $30,000 a year, and to extend support from 3½ years to 4½ years.

The Cutler and Bradley reviews recommended more modest increases to $25,000 and four years. The Australia 2020 Summit report also suggested formalising research as a career path, like teaching or medicine, and giving researchers the recognition they are due.

The 10 per cent increase is, as Innovation Minister Kim Carr hinted, “as budget permitted”. It’s a reflection of the times and a nod to the advice given to the Government by the reviews of 2008. But it doesn’t acknowledge the true worth of Australia’s researchers to our future prosperity.

Doubling the number of places for PhD students, as the 2008-09 budget allowed, was only half the solution to fulfilling Australia’s future demand for highly skilled workers.

The other half of the solution was to increase PhD stipends. PhD students and the research community were hoping this year’s budget would deliver. It didn’t, and we are still paying our next generation of researchers a relative pittance.

An annual $20,000 or $22,500 PhD stipend (tax-free) is not an adequate financial inducement for talented students who could earn double that amount, and more, by entering the workforce directly after their bachelor’s degree.

If money is what motivates, the result will be that Australia has fewer and fewer researchers in training.

But it is not financial rewards that drive bright, idealistic students into the long and challenging route to their research licences. Those who choose a research career would probably do so regardless of money.

And so we have to ask, is this systematised exploitation of Australia’s young researchers? An out-of-date training model stressed by the economic crisis? A reflection of the entrenched short-sightedness of three-year governments, focused not on building intellectual infrastructure but patching holes? Or an expression of Australia’s sad tendency to shun scholarly achievement and tall poppies? That PhD stipends have remained so low for so long, even in our recent boom, suggests the answer to that.

We could also suggest that a 10 per cent increase to stipends helps students but it helps our politicians more, because, most of all, it helps avoid the embarrassing situation of another financial quarter in which Australia’s future leaders are living below the poverty line.

Dr Rebecca Smith is the founding director of Science Hub Australia, a new organisation for the advancement of Australian scientists and science.

http://www.watoday.com.au/opinion/clever-country-our-brightest-are-kept-dirt-poor-20090513-b3bz.html?page=-1

Misha Schubert, Daniella Miletic and Peter Martin
May 14, 2009

AUSTRALIANS could be forced to wait until they are 67 to get access to their superannuation savings under a radical proposal to be considered later this year by the Rudd Government.

A day after flagging a rise in the pension age to 67, the Government has confirmed it will look at introducing the same age limit for super access – in effect making 67 a universal minimum retirement age.

Bringing the superannuation age into line with a higher pension age was recommended by Treasury secretary Ken Henry in a review published with the federal budget papers on Tuesday.

Dr Henry’s plan, for a phased lifting of the super age from 60 to 67 from 2024, is part of a broad push to keep Australians at work longer to help the nation cope financially with its ageing population.

A spokesman for Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Government would “thoroughly assess the findings of the Henry review when they are delivered at the end of the year”. But he stressed that the super issue would not be considered before then.

The plan could be even more controversial than the budget decision to lift the pension age.

Jane Chisholm, 53, was unhappy enough at the idea of having to stay in the workforce beyond 65 before she could even think about applying for the age pension.

“They are finally getting us baby boomers back, I guess,” said Ms Chisholm, marketing manager of Gasworks Arts Park in Albert Park.

But she expressed stronger misgivings at the proposal to lift the super access age. While she understood the need to prepare the nation for people living and working longer, she said the super proposal was cruel.

“People like to think they could have control of the money that is there for their retirement,” Ms Chisholm said. “If you want to go travelling and do some of the things you want to do, it’s just putting it closer to the 70 mark, when you can’t count on your health.”

The move to raise the pension age sparked fierce debate, with critics saying it would entrench inequality and force more old people into poverty.

Mr Swan said the decision was needed to keep pensions sustainable. “Currently we have five workers in Australia for every person aged 65 and over and by 2050, that will be 2½,” he said in a post-budget interview.

“Life expectancy has increased by 23 years since the age pension came in,” he said. “Twice as many people are going on it for twice as long.”

Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull supported the pension age increase, saying his only concern was that it would not come in soon enough.

National Seniors also backed the move, noting that it would not come in until 2023.

But critics highlighted the contrast between the rich getting access to super at 60 (at least under existing rules), while the poor were being forced to work or stay on the dole until 67.

The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association warned the move would add to poverty among over-65s and force some to toil longer at hard physical labour. “People in their 50s and 60s are often unable to find adequate employment,” said the association’s policy officer, Charmaine Crowe.

But she backed the idea of aligning the pension and superannuation ages, saying it would ensure more equality between richer and poor retirees, keep skilled people in the workforce longer and boost super savings.

Sydney University workplace relations centre analyst Michael Rafferty said increasing the pension age would entrench inequality and force some of the hardest working people in the world to work even longer.

He also pointed to what he said was a disparity between the pension decision and the mild cuts in the budget to tax breaks on superannuation. “The rich have been hit with a feather duster and the poor have been told you are going to work longer and harder,” he said.

Australian Council of Social Service chief Clare Martin said lifting the pension age to 67 might disadvantage “lower-income, mature-age people with limited job prospects, who will have to remain on lower income support payments for longer”.

UNSW Centre for Pensions and Superannuation deputy director John Evans said the pension age rise was a “knee-jerk” decision that could damage the vulnerable.

But Brotherhood of St Laurence chief executive Tony Nicholson said raising the pension age was inevitable to ensure the long-term sustainability of the system.

David Knox, a partner at Mercer Consulting who proposed the 67 pension age in a paper prepared for the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, also welcomed the decision.

But he expressed dismay at the proposal to lift the super preservation age to 67.

“The superannuation access age should generally be about five years younger than the pension age in order to provide flexibility. You cannot assume that everyone will retire at the same age, in fact today most people retire before 65.”

Superannuation access is at present available at 55, with the age set to climb to 60 by 2024. The Henry Review recommends a further staged increased to 67, after which it would remain aligned with the pension age in order to stop Australians spending their super payout quickly and then getting access to the part-pension.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/push-to-lock-up-superannuation-savings-until-age-67-20090513-b39y.html?page=-1

Maybe it was just me, but I was amazed pre-GFC at how many employers were complaining about skill shortage and their struggles to find candidates, talking about their employer branding and employer of choice strategies, but who were still using the approaches and technologies they used when labour was plentiful…and not noticing the contradiction….

________________________________________________________________________
12 May 2009 8:17am

Corporate career sites should be customised to their target audience and manage candidates’ job expectations, according to technology and HR expert Gerry Crispin.

Too often, they fail to engage candidates in ways that influence their career decisions and only very rarely do they let candidates know what to expect during the recruitment process, he says.

Crispin told last week’s Australasian Talent Conference that career sites should:
be customised to your target audience – know who you want to hire and tailor your content and design to those people. To engage people, they should recognise “people like me”;

cross-link to other platforms – have a Facebook page, for example, that scrolls your hot jobs;

demonstrate a sense of urgency – have a chat room where potential candidates can ask live questions;

omit static information and diagrams of ‘career ladders’ – “it gives the wrong message”;

offer a user guide – “If you’re interested in doing this, go here, or if you just want more information about us, go here”;

increase the transparency of the application process – offer “clear data about how you hire people and what the process is”. Explain how frequently you have jobs open and what they are;

detail your community involvement – “what are you dealing with in terms of sustainability? People make decisions based on that”;

manage job expectations – “ask key questions of employees that get deep into core values of your company, such as how they excel in terms of performance, and how they innovate in terms of products”, and post videos of their answers. The messages on the site must be aligned with the reality or people won’t stay;

tie in self assessments – more employers are doing this, but the next step is to share the data with applicants. “Both the organisation and [the applicant] should know whether [they] should go forward; and

respect candidates – “acknowledge every action”. Disclose what comes next in the process; promise to protect applicants’ data; offer them status updates and explain why they weren’t selected.
“Most companies are not here yet,” Crispin says, “but you see pieces of it being built in the most competitive organisations”.

08 May 2009 8:24am

Employers should stop thinking about recruitment and retention with a “war” mentality, and approach talent mobility with a new mindset, according to Melbourne Business School’s Dr Ian Williamson.

“The war for talent is over,” he told the Australasian Talent Conference in Sydney yesterday, “but it’s not because of the economic recession; it’s because talent won”.

“From the [employer] perspective, there’s no coming back from this defeat.”

Even while voluntary turnover has decreased as a result of the global economic downturn, the mobility of top talent has continued. “That hasn’t stopped at all, and if you talk to business leaders what they’ll tell you is the time to really get somebody of top talent is when you’re having a difficult business period.

“I don’t think that a recession has any impact on those individuals who are truly skilled in their position. Those individuals are always going to be in demand. So while we may have had some cooling off with voluntary turnover rate, for those truly valuable individuals this hasn’t been a big impact.”

Employers must work out how to deal with employee mobility, he says, because it will only increase.

“War” mentality unhelpful
The “war for talent” mentality of the last 10 years has not enhanced employers’ understanding of how to deal with mobility, says Williamson, an associate professor of management at the Melbourne Business School. The common thinking has been that when an employer lures talent from a competitor, it has “won” (and the competitor has “lost”), but he questions whether the issue is really that cut and dry.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs, he points out, pioneered a different way of thinking when it recognised that the hedge funds started up by former top talent became some of its most lucrative clients – “they lost talent, but it wasn’t as if they didn’t get something out of this”.

Employee mobility is not “win or lose”, he says. Employers must see every employee as a potential source of “social capital” and potential goodwill ambassador for the organisation – someone who will say good things about the business and help generate revenue.

So employers should think: “While I may no longer have access to your human capital – your knowledge skills and abilities – and while I may no longer have you as an employee, that does not mean that the organisation cannot still derive value from the relationships that we have developed over time.”

Develop alumni, manage exits
There are two broad ways to manage talent mobility, Williamson says. The first is to develop formal ties with ex-employees through alumni programs.

In most organisations now, “at best we might give them a pat on the back and say ‘good luck’; at worst we might think of them as traitors.

“But very rarely in organisations do we think and strategically plan to have an ongoing relationship with them.”

He points out: “We spend millions and millions of dollars on recruitment, trying to get people who have no relationship with us to talk to us – people who have no reason to pick up the phone – we call them all the time and plead ‘please, please, please pick up the phone to have a conversation with us’.

“How much time and energy do we spend trying to call people who used to work for us, who like us, who know us and who would gladly give us 30 minutes to talk about what’s going on in our organisation? Seems as if there might be a potential for a higher level return in terms of our time and our energy.”

The second way is to strategically manage employee exits. This is particularly important right now when many organisations are having a lot of involuntary turnover, Williamson says.

“What are we doing with those relationships? How are we managing that? We’re generating a whole population of former employees that are going to go off; some are going to work for our competitors, that might be a bad thing for us; some of them are going to work for co-operator firms – suppliers, potential clients, existing clients. How are we managing that process? What are we doing as they go through that exit process to ensure that we still maintain some type of positive relationship with them? Are we considering the potential social capital benefits as they exit?

“They’re going to have an immediate impact on shaping the brand and the image of that organisation, and no matter how much you might spend on a marketing plan or a branding strategy, it won’t overcome word of mouth.

“This has the potential to be a great thing. If we’ve done it right, they can be great ambassadors. They can recommend company products, they can refer new talent, they can be sources of new knowledge. But it can be very difficult to overcome if we do it wrong.

“It really is important to clearly communicate why we’re doing this. It’s important because it creates a sense of fairness. While things may have been unfortunate, you don’t want your employees saying it was an unfair situation, because that’s not going to generate goodwill.”

Outplacement services might seem expensive, he says, but employers will often recoup the cost if just one employee generates a new client.

Alumni recruitment often “hit or miss”
Alumni recruitment is often “hit or miss”, Williamson says, because few organisations have a formal strategy in place.

“It tends to be that a manager has an opening – they’re desperate to get somebody in, they want somebody good – and because they have a relationship with a former employee they call that person up [and] go outside of the HR process.

“What I would recommend is if you have the database of individuals who used to work for you, there’s nothing to stop you from sending out announcements of positions. You have their [CVs]; you know what they were doing in your organisation; you can screen before you even send out the messages, and so you can say ‘we think you would be an excellent candidate for this. I know you left – we have your information from your exit interviews as to why you left – we think we can address those concerns, would you mind having a conversation?’

“That’s an email you can’t send to a cold candidate.”

http://www.hrdaily.com.au/nl06_news_selected.php?act=2&nav=1&selkey=1148

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
You are here: HigherEducation > Publications > The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
“The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university“ reports the findings of the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey. It contains information on the outcomes and pathways of bachelor graduates five years after graduation.

Abstract
The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was designed to gain information on employment outcomes five years after completing a bachelor degree, how these changed from graduates’ initial outcomes, the pathways taken and the factors that influence outcomes. 9,238 graduates from all Table A higher education providers (with one exception) as well as Bond University and the University of Notre Dame participated in the survey. The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was the first national study of its kind in Australia.

The Key findings were that:

Graduates can take a few years to establish their careers: the rate of participation in paid work among graduates rose from 84% to 91% between the first and fifth year following graduation;
At the national level, the median graduate salary rose from $38,000 to $60,000 in the first five years post-graduation – a 58% increase;
Graduate outcomes and pathways varied for different fields of education, with some graduates taking longer to settle into their careers; and
Graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved outcomes on par with the general graduate population.

http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/Pages/The2008GraduatePathwaysSurvey.aspx

6/5/2009

Three-quarters of Australian workers believe their current skills will be out of date within five years, according to a recent survey.

The survey of almost 100,000 people in 34 countries, including more than 13,000 in Australia, shows that even in an economic recession, training and skills development are still important.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index finds that almost one-half of the respondents believe the training currently provided by their employers will not meet their future career needs.

Competitive advantage

Kelly Services managing director James Bowmer said that in an increasingly competitive global economy, investing in training for vital employees can become a key competitive advantage for firms.

‘Training may not seem a priority in the present economic climate, but organisations which devote the resources will be more likely to see higher productivity and profitability in the future,’ Bowmer said.

Changing labour market

The survey highlights the significance that employees across the generational age groups place on training and skills development to sustain them in a rapidly changing labour market.

Among the key findings of the survey:
Baby boomers (aged 48–65) are most worried about the level of training, with 59% saying it is not sufficient to upgrade skills and advance their career.
83% of Gen X (aged 30–47) say that within the next five years, their skills will need to be upgraded to keep pace with changes in the workplace.
73% of Gen Y (aged 18–29) see the provision of training as a joint responsibility between the employer and employee.

On-the-job training is the preferred form of training nominated by employees.

Human resource professionals come under scrutiny, with almost one-half of all respondents saying their HR department has not helped them to achieve their employment goals.

Across generations, women generally are more concerned than men about their skill set and have a higher expectation of their employers’ HR departments in managing their careers.

Among respondents, almost three-quarters (74%) say that training should be a joint responsibility between an employer and employee.

On-the-job training preferred

The preference among those surveyed is for on-the-job training (48%), followed by professional development courses (31%), self-initiated learning (11%) and formal university or college qualifications (10%).

Bowmer said the findings reveal the depth of concern across the population at the capacity of the current skills base to meet new workforce challenges.

‘The current economic environment has made people very aware of their skills and whether they will be sufficient to survive the recession and beyond, into a period of economic recovery,’ Bowmer said.

‘It is only very recently that we faced skills shortages across many industries, and unless skills and training are enhanced, that situation may occur in the future.’

‘Increased competition for jobs combined with technological change makes it vital that employees are assisted to become even more productive, through the best training possible.’