continue to grow UK education exports rose by just under 7% in 2011. Figures released by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) show that products exported by UK companies for use by the education sector increased from £338m to £361m, an increase of £23m. In total BESA members sold £1.74bn in 2011, so 20% of sales are exported. Although export growth is slowing – in 2010 exports were 11.8% higher than in 2009 – confidence about exports is growing: 73% gave a positive outlook for export sales in 2012 compared with 68% in 2011.
BESA director Ray Barker said: “Recent research into UK school spending has shown that despite the sector’s perception, budgets are still strong. It is heartening that our member organisations are also seeing a growth in the opportunities provided overseas. The UK market for education products and services across schools and colleges is in excess of £2.8bn.”
Business promises to protect training budgets
UK business leaders are claiming that training budgets are safe in their hands. Research shows that 93% of companies plan either to maintain or increase their training budgets over the next 12 months. The research – conducted for SkillSoft – found that just 3.6% of businesses were planning to reduce training budgets over the coming year. The independent study with chief executive officers of companies with over 250 employees across a range of sectors found that 31% were planning to increase training budgets by 10% over the next year with the manufacturing and sales/marketing sectors leading the way. SkillSoft said the findings backed up its customer feedback, which saw staff training
as a priority “for forward-thinking organisations”. Kevin Young, managing director of SkillSoft
EMEA, said: “This research is proof that organisations are continuing to emphasise the importance of training and development. However, many of these companies might be missing a trick – only 6.6% of CEOs polled said that return on investment is the top selection criterion in choosing a training programme. Unfortunately some organisations don’t realise the importance of ROI, as it should be a higher criterion when discussing learning and development.” The company recently announced that information security training topped the business agenda across multiple departments, according to its 2011 top 100 course take-ups.
HR wonders how to become business savvy
Human resource professionals think that the profession needs to build its understanding of business issues. However, they fear that developing business savvy is easier said than done. HR need for more commercial awareness was the basis of a report by HR’s professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). It is urging HR to deepen its business knowledge and use its “unique insight” into the interrelationship between people, the organisation and the wider context in which it operates to drive organisational performance. The report, Business Savvy: Giving HR the Edge,
looked at the first phase of an ongoing research project. It found that business awareness gives HR “credibility and the courage to challenge the relentless pursuit of short-term goals that can be detrimental to the long-term success of the organisation”. It identified four sets of behaviour as characteristic of a business savvy HR professional (see box).
Stephanie Bird, director of HR capability and
public policy at CIPD, said: “Previous research has shown us business savvy is one of the three savvies
Stephanie Bird: HR must challenge flawed pursuits
that HR practitioners must have to do this – and this is as true from day one in a career as at board level. “We also know that many HR practitioners find it hard to understand what business savvy really is, and how to develop it. This report is the first step in helping them to understand just that. It is also clear
that without it their credibility as professionals is damaged, and their ability to challenge flawed pursuits fatally undermined.’’
BUSINESS SAVVY BEHAVIOUR Understanding the business model in depth: understanding where value is created and destroyed and identifying people-related improvements to enhance organisational performance.
Generating insights through evidence and data: HR needs the courage to ask questions even when the knowledge required is masked in technical or professional jargon.
Connecting with curiosity, purpose and impact: taking a proactive approach to making connections across the business and collaborating at all levels
Leading with integrity, consideration and challenge: HR should serve stakeholders not power structures by retaining a strong stewardship role.
e.learning age april 2012
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