Archive for August, 2011

August 26, 2011

Too Much Too Young: Why Companies Shouldn’t Expect Schools to Do Their Work

Hundreds of thousands of UK 16 year olds got their GCSE results yesterday with record grades reported yet again.  The vast majority of these will be welcomed by further education establishments in September as they begin working towards higher level academic or vocational qualifications.

But for those who choose not to progress in education the welcome from employers is less warm.  The most recent quarterly survey of the labour market by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development released on Tuesday this week suggests that employers are choosing to recruit from the wider European Union, claiming that they are better skilled to take on the roles available than young people from the UK.  In fact, only 12% of employers are interested in recruiting 16 year olds – a drop of 25% since last year.

The CIPD reports that employers believe that school leavers lack the necessary levels of literacy and numeracy required, and also that they do not have sufficient customer service or communication skills.

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August 25, 2011

A Cautionary Tale: Always Assume Your Next Customer is Famous

Let’s face it – anyone can have an off day.

But it’s a pretty spectacular off-day when a customer you tetchily call a “busybody” turns out to be an internationally known comedian with a show to develop for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 

That’s precisely what happened to one hapless Virgin Atlantic employee and now her insult has become the title of comedian Shazia Mirza’s 2011 Edinburgh show, “Busybody”.

To be fair, the show, which has just received a 4-star review from the Scotsman, concerns not just this one incident but a myriad of tales about getting involved in other people’s business.  However, choosing the Virgin Atlantic incident as inspiration for the title of the show means that in the process of promoting her show across the media, Shazia has been asked to explain the origin of the title again and again.  So now, not only the hundreds or thousands of people who have seen her Edinburgh show know that a Virgin Atlantic employee threw an off-hand insult her way, but also the hundreds of thousands who have heard her on recent arts programmes or who have read her reviews. 

Is it fair to judge a company on one super-publicised incident?  Probably not.  But unfortunately for Virgin Atlantic, it’s human nature to form opinions in a less than rational manner. People are likely to “over-weight” this information when evaluating Virgin Atlantic’s care for customers.  Here are just some of the reasons why.

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