Letters of the week: political meddling

• As an engineering company with 150 employees, we have always tried to
start two engineering apprentices every year. In the bad old days, we recruited
one "craft" and one "technical" apprentice. We now need two
very capable bodies to satisfy the technical needs of modern manufacturing.

Although its NVQ bureaucracy is painful, the Modern Apprenticeship structure
answers our needs quite well. It has taken five years to have reached our first
MA goal, working successfully together with a local college. So, please, no
more changes now. No more jargon. No more new acronyms. Just more efficient
delivery and genuine funding.

I would like to pitch for more trainees – two "craft" ones who can
learn how to read a drawing and some basic engineering skills: they do not need
good GCSE results as long as they can read, write, divide numbers, understand
new information and be enthusiastic.

Call them YTS, YT or national trainees but not any sort of "apprentice".
We need to boost the image of an apprenticeship, not diminish it by pretending
it is a small step up from a youth training scheme. The incentive we need to
create in this work is a promise of sustained effort and sustained funding. It
takes three to five years to train a young engineer. A new scheme every two
years is no help at all.

Henry Beakbane

Quality Assurance Manager


Room for thinking man’s ad in RADs

• You only need to look at the Recruitment Advertising Awards (RADs) to see
that the industry rewards highly creative advertisement design. But could it be
that, in the search for gongs, flash and gimmickry have taken the place of
considered communication?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the recruitment advertising awards. I have won my
fair share down the years and I have also been a judge. There is no doubt that
they have had a positive influence in the recruitment advertising industry.

But agencies have wised up to what wins. Let’s be honest, it is usually
something big, colourful and a bit clever, so why waste money on entering ads
that are small, subtle and monochrome?

It is this "winning" formula that fills umpteen pages of the
up-market broadsheets each week, and attempts to persuade the intelligent and
talented to take life-changing decisions. Little trouble is taken in preparing
these ads, and the results are the jargon-ridden, unimaginative and poorly
produced offerings that currently form the shop-window for our industry. The
cost factor alone would seem to justify better treatment: not only are these
ads a significant outlay for clients, but in a commission-based business,
hugely lucrative for agencies.

Recruitment advertisements that are well thought out, simple and honest,
result in a larger number of responses from candidates of a higher calibre.
Surely there is room for awards that celebrate such quality in communications,
no matter what size or how short of bells and whistles.

The judging process would need to be different, however. The current
three-day marathon judging process for the RADs – stimulating though it is –
has no capacity for another category, let alone one that demands high attention
to detail.

Perhaps a "star chamber" could be asked to monitor the market,
nominate contenders and consider submissions throughout the year. The result
would be a real fillip for mainstream recruitment advertising. And it would add
just a little more gravitas to the RAD Awards.

Bob Anthony


Recruitment Vérité

Training faction feels IPD squeeze

• I note with growing frustration the IPD’s latest move to marginalise the
role of trainers and developers within the institute.

I know that the part-qualified IPD members’ "subsidy" is to be
discontinued. But I didn’t know that, following the award of chartered status,
I would no longer be allowed to use the IPD letters after my name to recognise
my professional – albeit part-qualified – status.

I am studying for a PG diploma in management rather than one in HR, but the
IPD does not seem to recognise this as a relevant qualification, so I am in the
position where I cannot upgrade.

Is it any wonder that a separate body is being set up to represent training
and development.

Richard French Assoc IPD

NHS Training Consultant

Food fuels healthy safety statistics

• I read with interest your article about links between eating and staff
productivity and the reported scepticism of some HR managers (22 February).

At Luncheon Vouchers we believe that providing staff with a targeted food
subsidy can lead to healthier employees and better performance.

It is not just the nutritional benefit which is important, however, but also
the reduction in stress due to staff taking a break. Taking time out provides a
change in environment and makes the working day more stimulating.

Taking lunch more seriously can also encourage greater safety in the
workplace. Our studies show that the risk of industrial injury tends to
increase before lunch and before home time. So, in view of the current high
cost of sickness absence, it is important to encourage lunch breaks.

Steven Stanbury

Accor Corporate Services

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