Human Resource

Skills development focuses on developing the productivity of employees and, to a lesser extent, providing skills to the unemployed so they can gain employment or become entrepreneurs. But even with the skills in place there are still many factors impeding the development of our workforce. Sylvia Hammond investigates a number of social factors that could be just as significant as skills shortages in holding back productivity.

According to Professor Frank Horwitz, South African human resources managers have tended to be concerned mostly with procedural and maintenance issues. He believes that this approach is fast becoming insufficient in a global marketplace where many South African companies face challenges in competing with global companies who offer products at a lower cost. He prefers to focus on the innovative ways that HR can boost competitiveness.

The very term management development implies that managers can all be developed. Yet some of the latest work around leadership pipelines indicates that there is a vast difference between managing oneself, managing others, managing managers and managing enterprises. Sarah Babb explains that there is a fundamental shift in values, processes and competence requirements, and not all people will meet these needs.

Despite substantial advances in technology that would seemingly reduce the need for extensive business travel, nothing beats the value of traditional face-to-face interaction. Debbie Goodman, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters explains that client-facing top corporate employees who are willing to travel tend to succeed at a faster pace than those who are less mobile.

Accsys, national provider of HR, payroll management and time and attendance solutions, has opened the doors of a new branch that will service the market in Port Elizabeth and reinforce its presence in the Eastern Cape.

"Both the activity of "change management? and the title of "change manager? that we see so frequently in the situations vacant advertisements, imply that change is an event, and is an event requiring a manger with specific "change? expertise. It fails to accept the obvious, that change is not an event it is a process, as inevitable as death and taxes". Dr Malcolm Birkin explores this topic in detail.

"Tough times lie ahead for companies failing to abide by the Employment Equity Act", according to Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana. "I have instructed my officials in all provinces to follow up with companies that have not submitted their equity reports and I will never apologise for this," he said.

Standard Chartered Bank faces a unique challenge of integrating cultures and ideas across the 56 different countries in which it operates. While they have always focused on diversity, Barbara Lombard, Head of Human Resources for Standard Chartered Bank in South Africa says that "conversity? is important too.

"Creating the right environment for everyone to enjoy, succeed and achieve their own aspirations is absolutely critical for us to, in turn, achieve our business goals - and from this survey we are clearly making great progress.' It certainly worked for brandhouse MD Simon Litherland and helped propel his company towards the top of the a recent national employee survey.

Accsys, the national provider of HR and payroll management solutions, has furthered the cause of education and skills development within payroll administration by establishing Accsys College and the Accsys e-Learning initiative to help define and implement higher levels of professionalism within the industry.

Some Cape Town-based companies appear to be struggling to attract and retain top black talent due to stiff competition from Johannesburg, with its strong social support networks and better job opportunities. As a result, some Mother City companies are battling to meet employment equity (EE) targets. Debbie Goodman, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters explains.

The South African skills shortage is restricting the growth of the country. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, speaking at the IPM Conference, said that HR must take part of the blame. "Companies and the HR industry in particular have not been proactive enough to develop the human capacity that companies need in order to increase capacity and profitability. We are experiencing this skills crisis.on your watch!" We have the full text of Manuel's speech.

Few things upset business owners more than valued employees leaving their employment to work for a competitor. But employers do have a mechanism for curtailing any damage a departing employee may inflict, in the form of post-employment restraints. Work-In-Solutions and Equity (Wise) explain the details.

The recent Old Mutual decision and 2005?s Naspers decision should serve as lessons to employers that they must take proactive steps to avoid being held liable for the unlawful actions of their employees. Work-In-Solutions take a look at those decisions and list some of the practical ways that employers can prevent liability.

"Holding the World Cup has been hailed as somehow being a part of the plan to achieve higher economic growth. The world cup is an event, achieving higher growth is a process. This misconception is yet another graphic indication that the government has absolutely no focus whatsoever upon growth, despite its widely stated objectives. It underscores the comments of many writers that Asgisa is nothing more than a bad PR job", write Dr Malcolm Birkin.

"I believe Employment Equity is misunderstood as a tool for organisational growth. Like any worthwhile organisational effort, Employment Equity thrives on structure - it will simply fall flat without it". Pieter Lerm calls on companies to move past looking at EE as a numbers game, and to look at the changes that successful implementation will bring about.

The latest figures from the CCMA suggest that up to 75% of its caseload relates to unfair dismissal claims. But there are easy steps for employers to ensure they follow the correct dismissal procedures - Work-In-Solutions and Equity (Wise) have some guidelines to save you a day in court.

For businesses, the issue of who has access to premises and data has reached new levels of importance. Non-intrusive biometric systems, which measure handwriting, fingerprints, voices, faces and retinas, offer fraud-proof control.

Quick job moves never look good on a CV and will always be questioned by an employer, but staying in a job too long can indicate you lack the ambition to take on new challenges and new environments.

Spring doesn't just mean pretty blossoms and warm weather. It's also the time to spring-clean your CV! Here are a few useful tips.

The Department of Labour is awaiting judgements from the Durban Labour Court which could see two KZN clothing firms fined for failure to comply with the Employment Equity Act. Coming soon after the Department decided to 'name and shame' companies which it claimed had not submitted EE reports, the judgements will be the first court decisions on the Act and indicate a firmer approach to enforcement by the Labour Department.

You have to complete a Workplace Skills Plan for your skills initiatives but it shouldn't replace a strategic skills development plan, says Sarah Babb of The Skills Framework. While you have to be aware of the short-term details of how many people have been trained, and who they are, the long-term strategy for the development of staff is just as important.

Controversy surrounds the list of more than 1200 companies that the Department of Labour claim have not submitted Employment Equity reports as required under the Act. However many of those names have hit back claiming that they have submitted the required reports - and some have the receipts to prove it! Download the full list here.

The Minister of Labour has announced that, for the first time his Department will invoke a section of the Employment Equity Act that allows the Director-General to review the progress of identified employers against the requirements of the Act. Alan Hammond writes that rather than simply submitting reports, employers will now be expected to make actual progress!

'Throwing the cat among the pigeons' hardly seems to encompass the controversy emanating from the Minister of Labour, Membathisi Mdladlana's speech at the launch of the 6th Commission for Employment Equity Annual Report. We have the speech in full.


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