This week’s letters

Letter of the Week
Disability does not make me special

Further to the "note of interest" regarding the Year of the
Disabled Citizen (Eurowatch, 18 April), I felt it necessary to write.

As a personnel professional, I am often disappointed by the way in which
fellow professionals rant and rave about giving opportunities to people with
disabilities, as if they are more deserving than people without disabilities.
Such attitudes are patronising and only highlight the supposed
"difference" we are trying erase.

I am a person affected by disability, but do not want any special
opportunities. I just want to be given the same fair chance that every other
person is given. After all, at the end of the day, we are all just human beings
– with or without the disability.

Even in the 21st century, discrimination is very much present, and if
allowed to be, it is the most debilitating part of disability. I do not want
personnel professionals to think they are special, but surely they should be
setting an example to the rest of the organisation.

Finally, I think, naming 2003 as "the year for the disabled
citizen" really highlights how far we have to go in terms of achieving
equal opportunities in the truest sense of the word. If the authorities think
it fit to name 2003 and really reinforce the "difference", then I was
very naive to have thought they really knew better when they clearly didn’t.

Name and address withheld

Support for local government plan

We were disappointed by the headline attached to your story about the Local
Government Workforce Development Plan 2001-4 (News, 24 April).

We have had tremendous support and enthusiasm from most local authorities in
developing the plan. Huge numbers responded to our survey, attended our focus
groups and commented on our consultation document. Their contributions helped
to focus and prioritise key elements of the plan.

Only three were at all negative about its proposals. The plan was also
welcomed and commended by the Local Government Association’s HR executive.

Local government is facing many major challenges:

– The requirement that all services are provided electronically by 2005
– The new requirement that authorities promote economic, social and environmental
well being for their area
– Increasingly complex organisational structures and an imperative to work in
partnership with other agencies
– The need for better procurement and contract management skills
– New equality legislation and guidelines
– Increasing pressures to improve customer relations and provide services more
effectively and more flexibly.

There are increasing difficulties, too, in attracting and retaining staff to
work in local government. We need a national strategy for tackling this
problem. It is also vital to develop the skills of all local government’s
current employees if we are to develop a high-performance culture and provide
better services to our communities.

Some authorities may have already begun to address these areas, but others
have not. The plan aims to focus the effort of all authorities and the
organisations that support (or could support) workforce development in local
government. We hope Personnel Today and its readers will applaud this document
and encourage its implementation.

The plan is available on the Local Government National Training
Organisation’s website: www.lgnto.org.uk or from Patricia Carby, tel: 020-7296
6692 or e-mail: patricia.carby@lg-employers.gov.uk

John Stocks
Chair, LGNTO board of directors

Ageism wake-up call for CIPD

These frequent articles calling for employers to wake up to ageism costs (1
May) always cause me to smile wryly.

Employers? It’s CIPD members who should wake up and stop being prejudiced.
Who recruits? Personnel officers. Who sifts through applications? Personnel
officers. Who invites candidates to interview? CIPD officers.

The wake-up is needed in personnel departments. The sooner application forms
stop asking for date of birth, gender and so on, and rely on qualifications and
abilities, the sooner we will be able to say we have recruited the best
applicant for the vacancy.

I sympathise with Anne O’Neill’s letter about her difficulty in obtaining a
first personnel post – it’s just as difficult to move jobs even when you’re in
the system.

Vic Bohanna

Comments are closed.