International news: On-line learning launched for US naval staff

The US navy has launched an on-line learning service for its 1.2 million personnel. The Navy Learning Network will provide round-the-clock access to on-line training courses in command, control, communications, IT and intelligence for sailors on active duty and reserve and navy civilians worldwide. The system electronically captures details of performance, enabling the navy to track individual training and skills development across each individual’s career.


IT skills crisis case presented to Irish PM


Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern met with representatives from an IT training company recently to discuss the IT skills shortage and what can be done about it. Research carried out by QA Training and presented to the prime minister at the meeting showed that nearly six out of 10 managers in IT companies see the skills shortage as a major problem and more than half are finding it difficult to retain staff.


Australian firm eases stress with rain forest


In an attempt to make its staff more productive, Australian utility company Powerlink has recreated a rain forest in its offices. Two levels of open-plan offices have been built around a central 850m2 atrium containing a running stream and rain forest plants known for their ability to absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide. Research by Washington State University in the US has shown that introducing plants into sterile working environments not only cuts stress but improves concentration and productivity.


Non-standard contracts on the rise in States


Temporary and other non-standard contracts of employment are increasingly being used by US companies, with three in 10 staff being employed in this way, the Bureau of Labour Statistics has found. The number of people working through temporary agencies grew from 250,000 in 1973 to 3 million in 1997. Meanwhile, thousands of other people are working as day labourers, independent contractors, part-timers and on-call workers.

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