The last word

Trainer and writer John Charlton gives his thoughts in skills predictions
for the year ahead

Trend-spotting is a must for 21st century training and HR specialists and
managers who want to make their mark. And no, this does not involve body
piercing. It means identifying the skills that your organisation’s workforce
must have to compete in tomorrow’s hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners-only-orders

Reading, writing and the ability to use cutlery will continue to be musts
for most, but perhaps the biggest need will be ‘fun workers’.

This is no joke – it is a prediction by vocational skills awarding body City
& Guilds (C&G). It recently issued a list of skills that will be ‘hot’
by and after 2010 and there, on the ‘hottest’ list – alongside
nanotechnologists, longevity consultants and tax advisers – is the ‘fun

Well, I’ve worked with a few in my time, but I admit failing to identify
their side-splitting wit and antics as a ‘hot skill’.

But perhaps it’s time to wise up. C&G says fun employees will boost
productivity, make work a great place to be, and cut staff turnover and
absenteeism. They will make work more enjoyable and productive, and boost the
bottom line. That’s the theory. But how will it work in practice?

Clearly, organisations must employ a Head of Fun to draw up a fun policy.
Then Fun Operatives will be hired to drive this initiative through the

They will have skills development needs – which is where the training
manager comes in. After all, the goalposts of fun do move, and senses of humour
and sensitivities do vary. The Head of Fun in a mushroom-packing facility will
have different requirements to one bringing happiness to the workforce on a
sewage farm.

But organisational goals will shape common training themes. These should
include: Introduction to Fun; Advanced Fun; Fun for Fed-up Workers: Embracing
Fun and Diversity, Fun and Redundancy Counselling; and so on.

Who should run such training? Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson have the
profile, but lack the sensitivity. I can recommend Jongleurs
(, a London-wide comedy club which trains comedians.

But whatever you do, don’t extend your programme of fun to Germany. Over
there, there is no equivalent to Head of Fun.

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