Indian Skills

I’ve just spent some time in India. The educational system is india is large and varied – it includes state provision and much private provision. the system is ‘good’if you measure it in terms of knowledge transfered from tutors to learners – Indian students know lots of stuff and can regurgitate it in examinations However, India graduates are often considered unemployable – because they can’t ‘do stuff’ – they have few practical skills … or soft skills come to that.

India needs to provide these skills if its economy is to continue to grow. Of course employers will, as now, provide remedial training – but India needs its graduates to ‘hit the ground running’ and maximise the ways in which they can exploit their considerable knowledge by applying it in creative ways.

In the medium term, India needs to develop a vocational education and training system that provides industry with the skills it needs. It knows this and is currently finishing a process of establishing sector skills councils – adopting a model similar to the UK model.

Time will tell whether these SSCs can help change the focus – so that vocational skills are recognised and valued. This requires a cultural change as well as technical changes… and requires industry to pay for vocational skills so that young people can see the sense in adopting a skills-based approach to their personal development.

I wish India well – watch this space and in a few years i hope I have good news to report.

Can I have a drink of water?

The Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) report reveals that not even one out of 49 countries of the Asia Pacific region can be considered ‘water secure’. South Asia and parts of Central and West Asia are faring the worst, with rivers under immense strain, it adds.

In the Asia Pacific region, the study highlights two stark realities – sharply rising inequality in access to water and sanitation, and the increasingly precarious state of rivers. It also presents measures that can be adopted to improve water security to mitigate growing pressure from booming populations, urbanisation, pollution, over-extraction of groundwater, climate change and other factors.

It added that there are already signs of growing water scarcity and environmental stress in large parts of important agricultural regions in Asia. Groundwater levels are falling in northern India, Pakistan and the northern plains of China, it points out.

80% of the rivers in the region are in poor health, as measured by the river health index. South Asian and Central and West Asian rivers have been assessed as being in the poorest health. Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka all have rivers that are in such poor health that environmental water security is threatened in these basins, the report warns.

Productive (continued)

I talked last week about employability skills. During the past week I have delivered a pilot program with Indian students developing employability skills using productivity as the ‘engine’ or focus. The students really enjoyed the program – in India they rarely get asked to ‘do’ something – and within a week had been in a factory and conducted an initial observation/analysis to identify the project they would do (as a team) over the next 3 weeks.  They will then carry out the project and produce a report which will go to the owner of the business and also be used as the basis of their assessment.

It has been fantastic to see the way they have responded to learning a new set of skills … they have worked until 10 at night (voluntarily) …. and surmounted all challenges.

Just think how much talent has been wasted by not giving these people and all their peers the skills they need to make a positive contribution to the organisations in which they work.

Productive graduates

I  have been doing some work in India recently and have been talking to employers about the process of employing recent graduates and post-graduates. What came across loud and clear and often were comments that such graduates are not ‘work-ready’ because they lack the knowledge and skills to become an effective member of an organisation on day1.  

Graduates knows (lots of) stuff … but they cannot do stuff.

This led the WCPS to collaborate on the latest book from the Institute of Productivity in the UK- Productivity and Employability skills – which helps develop some of the key organisation-related skills, but does so in the context of parallel and complimentary productivity improvement skills. Our belief is that we can help graduates ‘hit the ground running’ when they enter the world of work.

Because we are developing skills, the book is backed up by materials and exercises on the IoP website where they can develop skills and receive feedback.

If we can get into industry employable graduates who know something about the basic techniques of productivity improvement, then surely everyone wins.

Nice people

I have just got back from Turkey where I attended an event – a ‘Leadership Camp’ – organised by students for students – mainly students of industrial engineering. They had assembled an impressive set of speakers and sponsors and pulled off the whole event very well – complete with social programme.

Of course not only did they work hard to achieve their aims … they had real fun. And people who have fun usually work well … and they did.

They looked after me very well. So they are hard-working, talented,  committed and NICE people.

Small is good!

I was reading something the other day which reminded me of the number of keyboard shortcuts available within some software packages.  If you take the time to learn these, they can shave seconds off simple tasks – improving your performance and productivity.  Yet each individual time you use one, the benefit is tiny.

Performance improvements in any process are like this.  Each one may be very small … but a number of small improvements can make a substantial gain overall.

So always look for the simple, small gains … but look hard and look often. They may offer you a massive gain over the next year.

YOUR Supply Chain is at risk

I don’t know whether you know about the horsemeat scandal in the UK – where horsemeat has been found in a range of pre-produced ‘beef’ products but it  does remind us that each of us is responsible for securing our own supply chain – and knowing what goes on within  it.

We can’t blame our suppliers, our distributors or the government when something like this happens.  Well, we can try … but our customers will hold us responsible … and it is our brand that will suffer.

it takes a long time to build a brand; it takes one scandal – or perceived scandal – to destroy it.

How secure is your supply chain?

Does the sector matter?

Some productivity methodologies and techniques seem to be more used in specific sectors. 

This suggests that either they are in some way particularly suited to the processes involved in that sector …. or perhaps just a historical accident that the methodology or technique started in that sector and has not yet broken our into wider industry.

My view is that all techniques are applicable in all sectors … especially since most of them are simply structured ways of asking searching questions.

So, because a technique seems to be well-established in a particular sector doesn’t mean you shouldn’t transfer it to your own sector.  After all learning from others is always a useful approach.

Measure with care!

Two old adages say “Measurement creates understanding” and “You get what you measure”.   

The first is self-explanatory – if you want to understand a situation, measure it, once you know how mant/much, when, at what rate and at what quality levels things happen, you can take sensible decisions about processes.

The second adage implies that measuring things changes the behaviour of those associated with those things – when they realise what you think is important (because you are measuring it) they will give you more of that measured factor – but perhaps at the expense of other important things which either you are not measuring or they do not know you are measuring.

The lesson is that measurement is important – it does indeed help you understand  what is going on … and helps you work out why. But if you measure the wrong things, you might get changed behaviours that you had not planned to, and do not want.

So measure – but be careful what and how you measure.

Good Advice

There are many blogs offering ‘personal productivity’ advice – often linked to reminder/time management software… but often just offering simple advice.

A common piece of advice is to ‘declutter’ your life – get rid of distractions and focus on the real issues.I can see the wisdom in this so from now on I will stop reading such blogs and focus on real work.

I feel decluttered already.