Tag Archives: skills

No skills shortage expected from FIFO recruitment drive

Posted February 21, 2013 14:12:01

Far north Queensland leaders say a new push to recruit fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers from the region is unlikely to create a local skills shortage.

The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will recruit 250 fly-in, fly-out workers from the Cairns region for its new Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines in the Bowen Basin.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning says the boost to the local economy outweighs his concerns about losing workers.

“In terms of attracting industry and diversification of the economy we’ve been out to lunch for a while,” he said.

“We’re back from lunch now.

“We’ll find the mining industry, because of the wages they pay, will attract people away but when men and women go to work on the mines they don’t intend to stay there for the rest of their lives.

“They’ll do two or three or four years there, they’ll get their back accounts nice and fat again and then they’ll come back to the coast again.”

Councillor Manning says there still are not enough job opportunities in the region.

“They don’t take people away forever,” he said.

“They go away, they’re away for awhile, they learn new skills, they come back and settle back into life on the coast, so I don’t see it as a great problem.

“The economy here hasn’t picked up pace yet. It’s starting to but it hasn’t picked up pace, so let’s just see what happens when we’re 12 months down the track.”

Meanwhile, BMA says salaries alone are expected to inject an estimated $40 million into the Cairns economy.

BMA asset president Stephen Dumble says the new workers will start at the mines in the second-half of the year.

“The company looked at Cairns because we’re looking to diversify where we draw our workforce from,” he said.

“We’ve said all along that fly-in, fly-out represents a good opportunity to spread the benefits of our growth and of our industry more broadly in the regions in Queensland and today’s announcement is a good recognition of that.”

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says it is good news for the Cairns economy.

“It’s 250 salaries that will be spent here on all of the service industries,” he said.

“All of the small businesses here in Cairns will benefit from having an extra 250 families earning a good wage in the central Queensland coalfields.”

Jo Pyne from Tropical North Queensland TAFE says it is looking at ways to plug potential skill gaps.

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to work with local industry to provide the skills that we need,” she said.

“We’ll be able to cope with the demand, I mean this isn’t a huge number that we’re talking about locally but we do need to be working very closely with industry to make sure we … don’t lose the skills that we need to keep industry running here.”

She says the company is looking for experienced mine workers and newcomers to the industry.

“We have been talking to them over the last 18 months really wanting to be quite clear about what their skills needs are so we can make sure that the training we’re delivering is providing skills to people who are interested in finding work in the mining industry,” she said.

Topics: mining-rural, mining-industry, activism-and-lobbying, community-development, regional, regional-development, work, cairns-4870, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700

Granny skills help revival of wool industry

 The image of knitting has changed recently, with more young people taking it up Skills handed down through the generations are playing an integral role in the revival of the UK wool industry.

“There has been a resurgence in hand knitting, which uses a lot of British wool,” says Bill Waterhouse, at Bulmer and Lumb, a textile manufacturer in Yorkshire.

“The craft was nearly extinct five years ago, but the recession has turned it around, just as it has in North America and Scandinavia,” he says.

Having been in the business for 50 years, he has seen how hand knitting booms in times of recession but struggles when people have a lot of money to spend.

It seems a paradox that people should turn in recessionary times to wool rather than far less expensive synthetic fibres.

But Mr Waterhouse says: “In times of austerity people are looking for things that will last longer. They want to keep warm and they also want to occupy themselves.”

Crafted ‘with love’ A bike completely coated in knitwear Some artists have taken knitting way beyond making socks and scarves

The image of thousands of grannies sitting in an armchair, knitting away furiously to save an industry, is perfectly understandable, says Rachael Matthews, who runs Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green, east London.

“A craft takes years and years to develop so people think of old ladies because they tend to be good at it – not because they are old, but they have had to time to hone their skills,” she says.

But Matthews is quick to point out that her shop is also frequented by both younger people and men.

She says: “Most people have jobs where they are part of a machine, but they never see the beginning, the middle and the end and take responsibility for the whole thing.

“With knitting, you start something, sort out the problems and finish it. There is a great sense of achievement.”

The walls of her shop are adorned with colourful skeins of wool that she has spun and dyed herself.

“All the wool is sourced in the UK from small farmer producers, and a lot of fibre which would otherwise just get trashed comes from inner city farms,” she says.

“My spinning wheel is exactly the same as the traditional spinning wheel you see in fairy tales,” she says, but because it is electric, she does not have to use a foot pedal.

She says she spins either when serving customers who talk a lot or when she needs to relax, and she dyes her wool on a gas stove, in an enormous pan normally used for cooking rice, which she bought in Brick Lane.

Talking about the revival in knitting, she says: “The knitted look was very fashionable in the 1980s, then everything went beige and techno in the 1990s. Furthermore, knitting was associated with people who were poor, but now you are not thought weird if you sit on public transport and knit.”

But knitting your own clothes is not cheap.

“People will typically pay about £50 for the wool and spend about 40-50 hours knitting a garment,” she says. “But they love it and won’t throw it away.”

Looking East  Sheep without long woollen coats are less prone to a number of infestations and easier to care for

Mr Waterhouse says the wool industry was at its peak in the 1950s.

“Production is only 30% of what it used to be in the 1960s. Even in Australia there have been huge falls to what it was in the 1980s,” says Mr Waterhouse.

About 75% of the Australian wool goes to China and while British wool production is only 10% of what Australia produces, most of it is used in the carpet industry and for hand knitting.

The advent of synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester was a cruel blow to an industry responsible for the onset of the industrial revolution.

But with the addition of another textile plant in Poland, Bulmer and Lumb managed to survive the downturn and retain its major customer base in the Middle East, the US and Japan.

“The UK wool industry did a lot of work in developing Japan as a market in the 1970s and 1980s and our customers there have remained loyal even in recessionary times,” Mr Waterhouse says.

Breeding solutions

But Mr Waterhouse sources his wool from Australia, South Africa and Uruguay, which does little to alleviate the problems faced by sheep farmers in the UK.

It was once common to see 60 breeds of sheep in the UK, bred for different qualities of wool.

But wool accounts for 80% of the cost of shepherding and although the money earned by selling wool was once sufficient to pay for the feed of the sheep, the amount they now receive for wool does not even cover the cost of shearing.

To get around that problem, Iolo Owen cross-bred sheep until he came up with one that sheds its wool naturally, produces more meat, and gives birth to a higher number of lambs.

His Easy Care sheep have become a regular feature on British farms and there is little to suggest farmers will revert to herding wool-producing sheep any time soon.

“We have these heard these stories of a resurgence in the wool trade before,” he says. “Russia is buying British wool, then it isn’t. China is buying British wool, then it isn’t.”

Fashion designers use British wool, but the bulk of it is still used for carpets and hand knitting and the return on fleece would have to increase very significantly before sheep are farmed for wool again.

Hostage negotiation skills ‘good for business’

 By James Melik Reporter, Business Daily, BBC World Service  George Kohlrieser worked with the US police to try to reduce homicide rates Kidnapping is rarely out of the headlines.

Recently, French President Francois Hollande publicly urged kidnappers to free hostages held in the Sahel region in western Africa.

In October, following eight months of negotiations, a Greek-owned ship and its crew of 21, who had been held hostage by Somali pirates, were released after the payment of a ransom thought to be millions of dollars.

The kind of bargaining required to achieve the release of hostages is strenuous and needs thorough training.

But according to George Kohlrieser, a former hostage negotiator for the US police, that training may also hold lessons for less deadly situations in the world of business and management.

He says an employee has to be cool-headed and persuasive when talking to their boss – especially when discussing something like an increase in salary.

Caring is the key

Currently living in Switzerland, where he is a professor of leadership and organisational behaviour at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Prof Kohlrieser has himself been taken hostage – once in an emergency room, once in his office, and twice in someone’s home.

“I was doing specialised work with the police, trying to reduce the homicide rate in homes,” he says.

He explains that the key thing in those situations is to show a certain amount of caring.

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It is easy to understand hostage situations when you have a weapon to you body, a knife to your throat, or a gun to your head”

End Quote George Kohlrieser IMD Business School “The fact that a negotiator can show caring, even to a hostage-taker, allows the brain to shut down and be able to engage in problem solving and opportunity finding,” he says.

“A person who has taken a hostage has always been motivated by loss, and if you understand that loss and what they anticipate, you then have power to influence them.”

Prof Kohlrieser says you have to get into the mind of the hostage-taker and create an emotional connection.

“The act of showing interest or concern triggers in the brain the desire to co-operate and collaborate,” he says.

He points out that some situations are more dangerous, for example, when someone is trying to commit suicide by being shot by a police officer, or when they see no hope.

“The brain wants to avoid pain and the hostage-taker is just creating more pain or looking for a way out of that pain and our goal is to get them to see some other options,” Prof Kohlrieser says.

Speaking of the first time he was taken hostage himself, he says it took him 30 minutes to bring the situation under control after asking the hostage taker how he wanted his children to remember him.

“He screamed, ‘I don’t want to talk about my children,’ but that was the first response I got from him and I persisted until I finally got the change of mind and he realised he really did love his children.”

Knowing the needs

Prof Kohlrieser takes the experience of what happens in those deadly scenarios into everyday situations that might be encountered at work whenever negotiations are required.

“It is easy to understand hostage situations when you have a weapon to you body, a knife to your throat, or a gun to your head,” he says.

“However, most people are taken hostage without a weapon. They feel helpless to a boss, to a colleague, to a situation, to a team, or in personal life, so the principles used in hostage negotiations are applicable in other situations.”

Somali pirates look upon hostage-taking as a lucrative business – until they get caught

It is difficult to equate negotiating with someone wanting to kill you, and asking your boss for a pay rise.

“When you negotiate a pay rise you first of all have to know what the needs of the boss are – is it a fair thing, are you being reasonable, and can you create a relationship and help him understand why you think you deserve that bonus or pay increase?” Prof Kohlrieser says.

He says leaders have to be caring, and if you are dealing with a boss who is not caring then there are problems.

“If your boss is able to engage in that caring process, then you can take risks.”

However, he adds that about 80% of people do not trust their boss and it is crucial to think in terms of what is fair for the whole organisation or group.

“When people think something is fair, they are going to create a more positive mindset, and research shows that when those people are motivated by intrinsic values such as learning something, contributing to the team, doing something, whatever it might be, to make the world a better place, they are going to be the high performers,” he says.

“Most leaders are using manipulative threats or coercive tactics to get people to perform at a higher level and intrinsic motivations like bonuses and money do not produce a sustained performance,” he adds.

“It is the caring attitude of the boss which induces engagement and produces that sense of commitment which transfers to increased productivity and better customer service.”

Centre setup to upgrade women entrepreneurship skills

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) inaugurated here on Tuesday first-ever Business Growth Center (BGC) of Pakistan to enhance the ability, mobility, visibility, and connectivity of women entrepreneurs.

A statement issued by the organisation said that the BGC is a result of joint effort of UNIDO’s Women Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WEDP) and FWBL. UNIDO-WEDP project manager Inez Wijngaarde inaugurated the BGC while senior vice president FWBL Parveen Khan, national programme coordinator UNIDO Shahina Waheed and representatives of different organisations were also present.

Speaking at the occasion, Wijngaarde said that we are pioneer in introducing creative industries in Pakistan, which is home to a rich cultural heritage.

“We specifically focus on promoting gender integration in creative, nontraditional subsectors of marble mosaic, inlay and handicrafts, home textiles, gems and jewellery,” she informed.

Asking women to introduce culture of innovation to grow and shape their future, Wijngaarde said that Pakistani products have an impact on regional and international markets.

She said that over the past two years many women entrepreneurs have been capacitated through trainings.

Demand-driven training skills can raise employability

LAHORE: Popular opinion in both industry and academia holds that private public partnership is important for integrating entrepreneurial education with vocational education. This can be achieved by initiating meaningful communication between employers and a vocational institute.

Senior fellow entrepreneurship at Lahore School of Economics, Iqbal M Khan said, “Poverty and unemployment are two major evils in our society,” while speaking at a workshop on vocational training.

“Unemployment in Pakistan is mainly due to the aimless conventional education system in the country which is not demand driven,” he said.

“There are vacancies in the industries which could only be filled by imparting demand driven training skills to the deserving poor,” he said, adding that vocational institutions and industries should cooperate with each other to impart the required skills to trainees. Chairman Pakistan Association of Auto Parts and Accessories Manufacturers Nabeel Hashmi said that as university attendance increases, fewer capable young people enter vocational training.

“The ground reality is that our economy needs highly trained craftspeople far more than another batch of arts graduates,” he said.

Hashmi further said that employers tend to hire the most educated workers on offer and as the number of graduates increases so does the number of jobs for graduates. According to him, even the job of a police constable attracts a large number of graduates although the role could be performed by less educated applicants. However, these graduates do not know the crafts of plumbing and welding nor can they operate the simplest of machines, he said.

The creation of more jobs for graduates only proves that as credentials become more common, they become more important, he said. Moreover, Hashmi added that in the past, someone who left school without the “right” qualifications could still succeed through an apprenticeship or by working his way up. Today, that is becoming impossible, he said. Chairman PVTC Faisal Ejaz Khan said that resource constraints impede the vocational institutes’ potential for imparting gainful skills to poor students. He said the PVTC was mainly run through zakat provided to the council by the Punjab government.

He said the availability of funds under zakat are diminishing, putting immense pressure on the PVTC to continue to roll out around 40,000 skilled girls and boys each year in demand driven skills.

“The PVTC entered a partnership with numerous industries throughout Punjab that reduced the resource burden on the council and ensures training of students in skills which are in great demand in the market,” said Khan. He added that numerous industries came forward as a part of corporate social responsibility by providing equipment and raw materials for training the students who are from less privileged backgrounds.

“Some industries even shared the burden of the tuition fee of the students with the PVTC besides arranging for a stipend for on the job training,” he said.