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Thursday, 23 April 2009

Fresh approaches to national skills training are urgently needed in order to meet the challenges of the economic downturn and to position Australia for a return to growth and prosperity, according to a consortium of peak industry, trade union and youth advocacy bodies.

A report released today by the National Skills Policy Collaboration (NSPC) – comprising the Australian Industry Group, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Group Training Australia, Australian Education Union and Dusseldorp Skills Forum – recommends a new wave of training reform to take advantage of opportunities beyond the current economic crisis.

The report Investing Wisely sets out a framework to elevate skills development and to entrench a culture of learning across the workforce.

Heather Ridout, Chief Executive, Australian Industry Group said the importance of skills cannot be taken for granted.

“Despite rising unemployment, we cannot afford to take our foot off the pedal in addressing the skills gap in Australia. As soon as labour market conditions improve skill shortages will re-emerge with a vengeance, especially given our ageing workforce. It will bring with it all the familiar pressures on our ability to have the skills we need to sustain investment and growth. Indeed, we need to avoid the mistakes of past downturns where training was seriously neglected and businesses need to be positioned to emerge with the skilled workers they need to take advantage of the recovery,” Mrs Ridout said.

Sharan Burrow, President of the ACTU said: “Increased productivity flowing from enhanced skills and training will be vital if we are to emerge from the economic slowdown with a more skilled workforce that is able to compete globally.

“There is always a risk that in the current economic climate, the focus on skills will take a backseat to other more immediate concerns. That would be a big mistake,” Ms Burrow said.

The report stresses that skills development needs to keep pace with the demands of the new economy, and that there must be a focus on quality, not just quantity.

The consortium says improvement is needed in four key areas:

Accurate information about skill needs, and mechanisms that shape public policy and funding decisions;

A prevailing industry culture that values investment in skills development and makes the most of the skills at its disposal;

A focus on people and the skills and opportunities they need to participate in society and the economy; and

Government funding which supports the development and use of the right skills.

“The shortcomings identified are not new and they will not be fixed merely by more funding or more training places,” Jim Barron, Chief Executive Officer, Group Training Australia said. “Action is required to maximise the value of investments in skills, and achieve a more strategic use of public funds”.

AEU President Angelo Gavrielatos said: “The report highlights the need to place a well resourced public TAFE system at the heart of any strategy to increase participation and equity in Australian workplaces and society.”

The report makes five key recommendations:

Work closely with industries and employers. A significant funding investment should be made in encouraging industries and enterprises to pursue high-skill strategies;

Develop a culture of learning across all levels of the workforce. Key personnel should be developed and supported to engage workers across all sectors in learning. Managers should play a critical role in this process;

Make public funding mechanisms more flexible and responsive to demand. This does not necessarily mean responding to the demands of individuals and individual firms; rather, responding to broader industry and social objectives;

Ensure sufficient investment is made in the public training system. A legacy of government funding cuts must be reversed; and

Ensure sufficient investment is made in the development of essential skills. There is a good case for maximising the public and employer contribution, and minimising the individual contribution, to this end.

Media contacts
Australian Industry Group, Tony Melville: (02) 6233 0700
Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mark Phillips: (03) 8676 7266 or 0422 009 011
Group Training Australia, Bob Bowden: (02) 9241 2811 or 0412 753 298
Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos: 0488 012 045

More information
Download a copy of Investing Wisely here. http://www.actu.asn.au/Images/Dynamic/attachments/6505/investing_wisely_report_final.pdf
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Journal of Business and Psychology, 24 (1), 2009
Desmond J. Leach, Steven G. Rogelberg, Peter B. Warr and Jennifer L. Burnfield

Published online: 22 February 2009
 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract
Purpose The aim of this investigation was to test hypotheses about meeting design characteristics (punctuality,
chairperson, etc.) in relation to attendees’ perceptions of meeting effectiveness.

Design/Methodology/Approach Two studies were conducted:
Study 1 investigated meetings attended in a typical week (N = 958), whereas Study 2 examined the last
meeting attended on a particular day (N = 292).

Findings A number of design characteristics (in particular agenda use and quality of facilities) were found to be important in predicting perceived effectiveness. Attendee involvement served as a key mediator variable in the observed relationships. Neither meeting type nor size was found to affect the relationships of the design characteristics and involvement with effectiveness. Meeting size, however, was negatively related to attendee involvement.

Implications The findings help us to better understand relationships between design characteristics and attendees’ perceptions of meeting effectiveness. Meeting organizers can use the findings to guide administration of meetings, with potential to enhance the quality of meetings.

Originality/Value Meetings are a common organizational activity but are rarely the focus of empirical research. The use of two complementary studies, to our knowledge, provides a unique account of the contribution of design characteristics to perceptions of meeting effectiveness.

Keywords Meeting effectiveness, Design characteristics, Attendee involvement