Organisational Behaviour & Development

Alasdair White, as part of his portfolio of academic and publishing activities, has taught undergraduate business studies students for the last twelve years. His courses are behavioural and focus on doing business in an increasingly hyper-connected and ICT dependent world.

As the second annual European e-Skills Week comes to end, it is interesting to reflect on some of the learning points that have come out of the various discussions around the subject. One such point should be phrased as a major question: are we actually ensuring that young people have the ICT and e-skills that they really need to obtain, hold and succeed in a job in the current business world?

Based on my twelve years experience of teaching undergraduate business studies students, I feel that the answer is (a) on the whole, no we are not, and (b) we should be doing a lot more.

In a recent article for the New European, John Vassallo, vice president for EU affairs at Microsoft, wrote: “Right now there are 5.5 million young people under the age of 25 who are unemployed. In Europe the youth unemployment rate has just reached a historic high at 22.4% … Not only does this concern low-skilled young people having left school early, but there are more and more university graduates who also cannot secure work.” This, of course, raises all sorts of issues about the curriculum in schools, colleges and universities but when a recent finding by the IDC (International Data Corporation – a research unit) that 90% of all jobs will require technology skills by 2015 is added to the mix, we have a point of focus: we need to do more to ensure that pupils and students have the ICT knowledge and e-skills needed for the real world. As Vassallo adds, “…the digital competencies that we associate with the young generation, for instance when using a phone application or social networking site like Facebook, are very different to the ICT skills in demand for getting a job in 2012 and beyond.” (my emphasis) Read the rest of this entry »

Over the last thirty years, there have been three major recessions in the US and UK and these either contributed to or were caused by global recessionary trends. The economists, with their definitions, indicate that in each case the recession lasted two years but just about every businessman I have spoken to feels that the definition is too limiting and that, in reality, while the economy may well have climbed out of recession in two years, company performance has taken nearly twice as long to recover.  Take this last recession as an example: ‘technically’ it started in the last quarter of 2007 and lasted until the first quarter of 2009, but the European and US economies started their collapse in mid-2007 and are still underperforming and are a long way short of what was being achieved in the first half of that year. This recession might be ‘technically’ over but its legacy is likely to be with us for five years or more!

This recovery trend, which ranges from flat to very slowly rising, means that many businesses that are not diversified will be facing extreme difficulties and will be eating into capital reserves just to stay afloat – and if their reserves are not big enough and they cannot switch markets, then Read the rest of this entry »