78 research outputs found

    Construction skills development in the UK : transitioning between the formal and informal

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    Research reported here is part of a wider study that seeks to examine the practices involved in encouraging and enabling employers to engage with the skills development agenda. A series of exploratory interviews and ethnographic observations reveal potential disconnections between skills policies at the governmental level and what actually happens in employer practices regarding skills development. On the one hand, the formal education and training system focuses on such targets as the attainment of narrowly-defined occupational standards, levels of competence, and quantitative performance measures like completion rates. On the other hand, the socialised concept of skills development takes place informally at the workplace through on-the-job training and mentoring relationships between senior and junior employees. Both the formal and informal systems appear to co-exist alongside each other, although tensions are mounting in terms of confidence that employers and the wider industry place on the efficacy of the formal system

    Coordination of infrastructure development : some international comparisons

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    This report presents the findings from a desktop review into how governments across a selection of countries coordinate infrastructure development by working with the industry. The selected countries included the UK (Northern Ireland was examined separately from mainland UK), Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The goal is to identify alternative means of coordinating infrastructure development at the government level, with a view to assist the Institution of Civil Engineers to make the case for a more strategic approach to planning and delivery of infrastructure. The need for this report derives from growing complexity in the way infrastructure development programmes are procured, and the shifting role of government from provider of infrastructure development to enabler of the process of delivery. Thus, an opportunity arose to compare alternative arrangements of government coordination. There were similarities of political governance landscape between the investigated countries regarding strategies of infrastructure delivery. Differences exist however in the way resources are allocated and decisions made regarding infrastructure development. A potential for greater transparency and collaboration between public and private sector was identified. In Germany, for example, local governments enjoy a great deal of autonomy in defining infrastructural requirements, even though the definition of requirements has to align with high-level planning principles at the regional, national and European levels. Delivery of infrastructure development is devolved to the local governments working with a range of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors with funding provided by regional allocations. By contrast, infrastructure development is coordinated by a single high-level government department Canada, Japan and South Korea. The make-up of this department varies across the three countries, with subtle differences in the roles and responsibilities of each constituent part. Nonetheless, the benefits of such an approach include a whole-systems view in decision-making and a somewhat simpler, more transparent way of funding allocation. Furthermore, in the case of Japan and South Korea, resources can be more effectively channelled towards advancing research and development related to infrastructure development capacity and more clarity in terms of skills development. The UK, on the other hand, has a fragmented approach in addressing infrastructure development, with a continuously evolving system of government departments and agencies having some form of influence on determining infrastructural requirements. In order to redress some of the challenges with such fragmentation, the situation in Northern Ireland differs slightly with the formation of a Strategic Investment Board Limited charged with overseeing infrastructure programmes, making delivery more transparent

    Formal and informal systems of VET: implications for employee involvement

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    The age-old conundrum embodied in the skills challenge is this: if it is accepted that skills are a good thing, then why is it that the uptake of skills development practices, through, for example, training and lifelong learning agenda, are not widespread? In voluntarist Britain, policy- makers, researchers, educationalists and even practitioners have been grappling for a long time with low training participation, and the low-skills, low-wage route that British industry has adopted. Problems associated with this include claims of a productivity gap that exists between the UK and major competitors and the perpetuation of short-termism that has led to the restriction of capacity development. Scholars offering a panacea to the challenge have often called for the strengthening of institutions, usually supporting such exhortations with evidence from comparative studies that other countries are better in the regulation of both internal and external labour markets. Notwithstanding the necessity to strengthen institutions and to develop a comprehensive vocational education and training (VET) system that respects social partnership and industrial democracy and genuinely involves the employee voice, there is also a need to account for the multi-layered nature that currently exists in formal and informal guises

    Developing a 'road map' to facilitate employers' role in engaging with the skills development agenda

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    The UK construction skills shortage problem remains highly topical. Despite academic research and industrial efforts to mitigate the problem, construction employers face increasing pressure to get the skilled workforce necessary to fulfil rising workloads in the UK. There is limited success in the recruitment of nontraditional labour, shift towards prefabrication and the employment of migrant labour. Following the Leitch (2006) report, employers will be expected to become more proactive in engaging with the skills development agenda in the future. Yet, the extant literature remains fairly opaque on how employers can achieve this effectively. The research project outlined in this paper attempts to examine the processes involved in engaging employers in the skills development agenda, with a view to develop a decision-support tool (a ‘road-map’) for employers in this respect. The proposed research approach is outlined in this paper, which includes mapping out of current policies and initiatives that are geared towards construction skills development, case studies to explore how employers are presently engaging in skills development and action research to test the prototype tool

    Strategic considerations for construction in the People’s Republic of China: the case of German contractors in the 1990s

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    The construction industry has been struggling to integrate business strategies that are anticipating the internationalisation and infiltration of international markets. This article attempts to evaluate the China operations of German contractors from a strategic management decision perspective in the period between 1990 and 2000. Existing internationalisation theories have appeared to be inappropriate to explain international construction due to the unique project nature of construction business. The Ownership, Location and Internationalisation (OLI)-paradigm was initially developed to explain international production pattern was revised to form the basis for the evaluation of the Construction contractors’ market activities. The interviews indicate an industry-specific culture that affects how companies approach foreign markets. Some exceptional companies illustrated a higher degree of openness towards a more strategic and consistent approach in terms of the development of overseas markets

    The interorganisational influences on construction skills development in the UK

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    The UK construction skills shortage problem is well documented. To alleviate this, there is a political shift of emphasis in the UK towards employers and employees/ learners playing a more proactive role in skills development. This research seeks to examine the mechanisms that can enable such a demand-led skills development system to materialise. A desktop review and key-stakeholder analysis were undertaken to identify who participates in skills development in the construction industry in the North East of England. Exploratory interviews adopting an interpretive approach were undertaken with a sample of the key stakeholders to examine the pluralistic nature of skills development provision and the implications for the learner negotiating this environment when trying to develop skills. The interim findings suggest that whereas organisations consider skills development to be important, specific training for “upskilling” can be difficult to recognise and even more difficult to gain funding for. The complexity and fragmentation of the existing framework consequently subjects vocational skills development to the initiative and goodwill of employers, thereby reinforcing the voluntarist nature of skills development that is typical in the UK. The findings also suggest that skills development practices, at times, occur informally at the workplace and enabled through a network of local organisations. These findings highlight a need for further investigation into the efficacy of the inter-organisational dynamics and informal practices that could potentially make a demand-led skills development system a reality

    Balancing Projects with Society and the Environment: A Project, Programme and Portfolio Approach

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    AbstractIssues such as global climate change, poverty & inequity, and the unsustainable use of resources are driving organisations to incorporate the principles of sustainable development into strategy and operations. Recently project management has drawn criticism of lacking sufficient governance to respond to such issues and the local interpretation and lessons learned have had little success in addressing this. Whilst sustainability principles can be actively influenced, encouraged and monitored through project portfolio programme and project management, there are often problems with translating vision and strategy into project practice. Here we suggest that portfolio and programme management presents an opportunity to integrate visionary and strategic sustainability with operational sustainability. Moreover a programme and portfolio approach can lead to enhanced opportunity to share sustainability practice between projects Therefore sustainability has to be an integrated part of Portfolio, Programme and Project processes to support and achieve the objectives of an organisation. Here the governance of organisational practice and the triple bottom line interlinks the processes to support the operational strategy of an organisation

    HST Observations of New Horizontal Branch Structures in the Globular Cluster omega Centauri

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    The globular cluster omega Centauri contains the largest known population of very hot horizontal branch (HB) stars. We have used the Hubble Space Telescope to obtain a far-UV/optical color-magnitude diagram of three fields in omega Cen. We find that over 30% of the HB objects are ``extreme'' HB or hot post-HB stars. The hot HB stars are not concentrated toward the cluster center, which argues against a dynamical origin for them. A wide gap in the color distribution of the hot HB stars appears to correspond to gaps found earlier in several other clusters. This suggests a common mechanism, probably related to giant branch mass loss. The diagram contains a significant population of hot sub-HB stars, which we interpret as the ``blue-hook'' objects predicted by D'Cruz et al. (1996a). These are produced by late He-flashes in stars which have undergone unusually large giant branch mass loss. omega Cen has a well-known spread of metal abundance, and our observations are consistent with a giant branch mass loss efficiency which increases with metallicity.Comment: Submitted to ApJ, 12 pages, including 3 figures, also available at http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~noella/research.htm

    Oncolytic Virotherapy as Emerging Immunotherapeutic Modality: Potential of Parvovirus H-1

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    Human tumors develop multiple strategies to evade recognition and efficient suppression by the immune system. Therefore, a variety of immunotherapeutic strategies have been developed to reactivate and reorganize the human immune system. The recent development of new antibodies against immune check points may help to overcome the immune silencing induced by human tumors. Some of these antibodies have already been approved for treatment of various solid tumor entities. Interestingly, targeting antibodies may be combined with standard chemotherapy or radiation protocols. Furthermore, recent evidence indicates that intratumoral (it) or intravenous (iv) injections of replicative oncolytic viruses such as herpes simplex-, pox-, parvo- or adenoviruses may also reactivate the human immune system. By generating tumor cell lysates in situ, oncolytic viruses overcome cellular tumor resistance mechanisms and induce immunogenic tumor cell death resulting in the recognition of newly released tumor antigens.This is in particular the case of the oncolytic parvovirus H-1 (H-1PV) which is able to kill human tumor cells and stimulate an antitumor immune response through increased presentation of tumor-associated antigens, maturation of dendritic cells and release of proinflammatory cytokines. Current research and clinical studies aim to assess the potential of oncolytic virotherapy and its combination with immunotherapeutic agents or conventional treatments to further induce effective antitumoral immune responses