LSN: What will be the ‘view from the mountain top’ with regards to training - During fringe events at this year's party conferences, the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) launched ‘Beyond Leitch: Skills policy in the upturn’. This is the first research report to come out of their new independent think tank, the Centre for Innovation in Learning.
Government strategy is based on the belief that the quality of the UK's skills base is the crucial determinant of the nation's economic future. But the Leitch agenda and its assumption of growing employer demand for training looks less appropriate in the current climate, which raises questions as to its appropriateness in the long term.
This report examines the impact of the recession on training & skills needs and considers the likely future implications for skills policy. It analyses how the skills system has coped with the changing needs & pressures brought about by the recession, what lessons can be learned and whether the system can be more flexible & effective in driving the economic upturn.
CQC: It is not just a possible pay freeze that NHS staff are concerned about - The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is encouraging NHS employees to provide feedback on their experiences at work by participating in the seventh annual NHS Staff Survey. More than 300,000 staff in 392 trusts will be asked to participate and the Commission encourages staff in all sectors & roles in the NHS, to take the opportunity to give their views.
CQC, NHS Trusts and the Department of Health will use the information gathered to inform local & national changes in working conditions to not only help staff feel valued, but ultimately improve the quality of care for patients.
The 2009 questionnaire is largely similar to that used in previous years and will allow Trusts to track progress over time, with additional questions on staff engagement and health and well being.
BIS: No more room at the UK Inn, which could be liable to flooding! - The Government Office for Science has begun its latest Foresight project examining how future environmental change could affect human migration in the long term around the world. A growing, urbanising global population over the next 50 years will create demand for more food, energy and water.
Many modern ‘megacities’ are located in coastal areas or river deltas, which are vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise. Changes to the climate could lead to reduced crop productivity in many regions, desertification and increased levels of water scarcity.
A wealthier population will mean substantially greater demand for food, which must be produced from the same land area, with fewer inputs, at the same time as coping with climate impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This threatens to create a ‘perfect storm’ of global events. A likely impact of environmental change & population growth is an increase in global human migration as people move to cope with a deteriorating environment.
The Foresight project will explore:
* The global patterns & impacts of migration over the next 50 years arising from environmental change
* The challenges that could result from changing migration patterns & how these might be managed.
Newswire – HCA: Filling in the gaps - Land redevelopment opportunities, including new homes, in London are set to be ‘transformed’, thanks to a new freely available online tool, launched by the London Development Agency (LDA) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
Open to all, the London Brownfield Sites Database is the country’s most comprehensive database of land available for redevelopment. This is accompanied by a London specific Best Practice Guide to brownfield land in London.
The Database records around 2,300 previously developed ‘brownfield’ sites across London, equivalent to more than 2% of the land in Greater London. This is an increase of over 1,000 sites than was recorded on the previous National Land Use Database (NLUD) system. Using up-to-the minute Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, this includes transport routes, deprivation, social infrastructure, as well as heritage and natural environment assets.
At a time when developers are seeking greater certainty over site availability & site suitability, this information will help to establish clear redevelopment opportunities. London Boroughs can also use the data to inform their policies, site specific allocations and housing & employment land availability assessments.
OS: Technology stops their enjoyment being coloured - For many people map reading can be a struggle, but for the hundreds of thousands that are colour-blind it can be an even more arduous experience. Help may be on the way though, thanks to a new product - OS VectorMap - from mapping agency Ordnance Survey that can be specifically styled to make mapping easier on the colour-blind eye – See ‘Industry News’ section in website version of newsletter.
Industry News: Work / Operate smarter to cut costs – Public sector managers are now under immense pressure to squeese savings from primarily Back Office budgets, including building management budgets. However 2 other high priority issues have to be taken into account:
* The need to meet new environmental UK & EU standards and legislation
* The need to offset projected (by Ofgem) rises in future power costs by improved management of / reducing demand
The twin pressures of the geometrical rise in the importance of ICT relating to an organisation’s service delivery, since the late 1980’s, combined with the astronomical increases in energy requirements to power / cool / heat / secure / maintain a safe environment for staff & their ICT equipment has changed this budget area into a business critical issue.
No longer can these functions be left to relative ‘amateurs’ to use trial & error to find the optimum solution for the most cost effective / comfortable building environment. Increasingly organisations are turning to solution suppliers such as CDC to provide the intelligent management systems that create optimum solutions.
After all, the odd £m here & there starts to add up. So much so that central government (for example) estimates that it should be able reduce the cost of data centres by £900m in 5 years, with an ongoing saving thereafter of £300m p.a.
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