Sorry about the absence, lack of tweets and blogging. I was in a gloriously welcoming if damp Manchester last week attending various events focussed on skills matching and tackling youth unemployment, as well as health and social care.
The events were hosted by various organisations and think tanks and coincided with the Labour Party's annual conference. All I will say- those people know how to debate and fascinate until late into the night. Very late.
I was delighted to attend an event hosted by Reform and take part in a round table discussion on skills matching alongside the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP and people from such lofty instiutions as BAA, Monster and A4E. It proved a lively debate, though the contrast between this and other events I attended was stark: some involved struggled to entertain ideas that challenged their own methods or the need to look beyond political boundaries and focus on what counts- people. Specifically, the one million young people who are currently unemployed and who need businesses to take brave steps to save them from a future without work.
Since I returned at the end of the week, we've seen a frankly puzzling announcement from the Chancellor, George Osborne, who yesterday proposed a new type of employment contract which would see employees surrender employment rights in return for shares in the business worth anything between £2,000 and £50,000. The concern here is that if this scheme is adopted, employers could be given the right to offer only this type of contract to new hires- basically giving prospective employees a bleak choice- 'no rights, or no job'. It's early days for this proposal, the details being sketchy at present in the best tradition of Conference headline-grabbing.
The CIPD response has been bullish, stating boldly that share options are 'no substitute for employment rights and good people management.'
I'll be keeping tabs on this, though I suspect the amount of employees keen to sign up to this voluntarily would be negligible. (The image of shareholders meetings held in a phone box springs to mind...)
More soon. I've also been considering a fairly unconventional and intriguing speech given last week. Yes, that one. More to the point- what wasn't said...