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Can You Make a Difference ?

Apologies it's been a while since we posted. We have been selling a house combining two homes into one, (with the added challenge that one of us is a hoarder, not saying which one of course), negotiating with tradesmen and decorating etc. however we are slowly getting there so I have given some thought to the next blog - and here it is.

Of course recent months have also brought a number of tragic events which I think have made many of us reflect and re-evaluate our lives, if this is the case then perhaps good can come out of terror and horror and be a positive force. In Argyll we are surrounded by natural splendour and great people. This together with an ever changing dynamic environment gives perspective, and an awareness of the core things in life, these elements make it possible to reflect on what is important .

I recently had a piece in The Herald (27th July 2017), responding to the Audit Scotland Report assessing NHS Scotland Workforce planning arrangements. In the piece I described how warning signs had been missed, and that traditional thinking and recruitment patterns no longer served the NHS well. I put forward the view that the reality was that opportunities to modernise had been missed for a number of reasons. As a result the Service faces numerous supply challenge, at least some of which were avoidable had action been taken when the issues first materialised. Not addressing the problems facing us by burying our heads in the sand and wishing just to get through the day, really does not work. You need to plan to address the issues you know about. That takes courage but the alternative is short termism and more intractable problems in the longer term.

In the Herald on 29th July there was an interesting article by Alan Simpson headed ‘Young are not taught skills firms need, says report’. The report was the CBI/Pearson education and skills survey which indicates that more than half of firms are struggling to fill skilled posts, and face severe shortages in future unless the education system is changed. This dovetailed neatly with my published comments earlier in the week. So what are we doing about this ?

In December 2014 Sir Ian Wood's, "Developing the Young Workforce" was published. It called for a radical shake up of the education system to plug the skills gap. In his report Sir Ian stated, three years ago, that vocational training should be given far greater value to put it on an even footing with university qualifications. I couldn’t agree more. One of the areas I worked to promote when I was an HR Director in the NHS, was developing careers for those qualifying from our colleges with HNC/HND's. I also developed, and was a passionate advocate for inclusive education and recruitment strategies, which offered education and work for those furthest removed from the labour market. These suggestions unfortunately remain controversial in a society that values graduates above modern apprenticeships and harbours prejudice against people who have become socially excluded in society.

David Strang the former Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, in his role as Her Majesty's Inspector of Prisons, called last week for the abolition of custodial sentences for periods of twelve months or less on the basis that he believed , (and I agree with him), that such sentences do more harm than good. So what is the answer, there are clearly recruitment challenges across different sectors, yet inertia dominates, it’s time for the like minded to set the heather alight! A question begged by the David Strang call is, what do you do with individuals in society who have offended and sentenced to say six months in jail. Could employers offer training and employment in an effort to break the cycle of offending rather than community payback or a spell in jail with hardened criminals ? A bit like conscription but into a job with training and prospects rather than into the armed forces ? Some employers do this kind of work but to do good it need to be systemic. At the very least there should be more research into what might be possible so that the Government could show some leadership here.

Let me know what you think. Are there enough of us out there who think this way to start to do things differently ? What would that look like ? Can we make a difference to people and society through employment and training ? I certainly hope so. Thanks for reading this even if you disagree !



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