Think of a land with a ministry of training devoted to raising learning and development standards. How good is that? Well you may be living in it sooner than you think.
Imagine that we have a minister for training. “It’ll never happen. It’s as likely as organic lamb in a kebab stall”, I hear you say.
Well, we already have a minister for the Olympics, a minister for modernisation and a minister for the media. We even have a minister for the creative economy. Strangely, they all bear the name Tessa Jowell.
So, a ministry for training would make perfect sense. And, given the nature of training, it could contain several discrete units. These might include the assertiveness on the phone department, the office for giving effective feedback and the time management unit.
Who would be the towering figure needed to head the ministry of training? Perhaps someone with the man management skills of Joseph Stalin, the vision of Peter Stringfellow and the communications expertise of David Beckham.
Step forward the ‘ull hardman John Prescott. He’s already got his size 11s in the door. His department, the grandiloquently-named Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), has decided that it is time to teach the UK’s idle ‘yoof’ some time management skills. Or, in plain English, ‘how to get out of their comfy beds of a morning’.
According to a report from the ODPM, Transitions: Young Adults with Complex Needs, hundreds of thousands of youngsters are unemployed because they lack time management and other basic skills. But don’t think this means having the nous to prioritise tasks, keep an Outlook diary and handle e-mails and phone calls in time blocks.
No, the training called for will focus on the very basics: how to get out of bed in time for work; how to manage the weekly spend and, for those who like a challenge, how to catch a bus on time. For youngsters of a more hardened nature there may be courses in anger management and communication skills.
I imagine that even as I write, negotiations are well under way with the Basil Fawlty learning and development company to provide the types of training required.
But I don’t think this ‘how to get to work on time and not biff the boss once there’ is enough. The area I’d like to see addressed is the generally abysmal standard of English used by those working in sales and promotional activities.
These are people who think that every noun starts with a capital and every sentence should be a punctuation-free zone – except for the occasional exclamation mark at the end.
This, too, is a task ideally suited for the ODPM and its great helmsman.
For Mr P is well placed to understand the need for clarity and simplicity in communication.
Take his words to Parliament on waste disposal: “I think the problems of waste management are very, very considerable, not only to this country but to many others, and whether or not this landfill, incineration or recycling, all of these have played the part as my honourable friend will know, that the matter of landfill has now been an issue which is rightly closed off and the balance between recycling and indeed that of incineration is the ones that government have to face.”
Yes, it takes a man who understands the benefits that good grammar brings to the individual and the economy to hold the reins at the ministry of training. Over to you John boy.
John Charlton, editor and training manager