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Mind the Skills Gap – British Businesses Struggle to Fill Technology Vacancies with graduates. As the haggling for Brexit truly begins it’s increasingly important to support British business, but a new study by education technology providers, IDEAS Bus, reveals a significant gap between the recruitment needs of the UKs SME and the abilities of British graduates.

With 61% of small businesses finding it difficult to find workers with the right tech skills to fill vacancies, and 42% saying that they don’t have the time or resources to train people on the job, many business owners are finding themselves in a catch-22 situation. Companies need to grow in order to increase their income and employ more staff, yet lack the staff with the expertise to enable them to grow.

Technological vacancies seem to be the most difficult to fill, with 37% of small business owners complaining that their tech needs are growing but there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the gap, while almost a quarter (23%) of small businesses claim that a lack of technically capable employees is causing them to lose working hours.

Among the most sought after employees in the last 12 months were:

  •     Programmers, with 32% of SMEs struggling to fill positions
  •     A lack of Web Developers caused problems for 29% of small businesses
  •     While an additional quarter (24%) were seeking Coders

During the coming year it looks like App Developers will be most in demand, with 35% of SMEs set to seek these skills.

When asked why they thought that filling vacancies had become so difficult in recent years, one in five (21%) of SME owners said that the advancement of technology had led to the need for increased skill levels in the workplace, something which UK educators have been unprepared for.

With technology changing so rapidly, it is necessary to meet new and changing needs all the time. Compare the top skills required in 2017 to 2010, which was only 7 years ago, and we find many of the skills that were necessary then have either been downgraded or replaced.

Network Administration and Business process improvement are not up at the top anymore either, having been overtaken by positions in Big Data, Web applications and device management, as well as Interface Design. This confirms that in order to keep our technological skills up to date we need to be aware of emerging new technologies.

IDEAS Bus founder, Casey Farquharson, commented: “I’ve worked in business, education and tech for many years and it’s true that technology has come on at a surprisingly rapid pace in the last decade; no wonder many businesses are struggling to keep up. Unfortunately, there are many demands on UK educational establishments, meaning that teachers often lack the time to keep up with the technology which would give their pupils the edge when they move from education into employment.”



Today it seems that we are reviewing our financial positions and are happier buying less, shunning debt and embracing minimalism. Worldwide, only four in 10 people say that money gives meaning to their lives, while five in 10 say they would actually be happier if they consumed less. A study by Havas Worldwide found that a stalling global economy and the shrinking of personal wealth are changing our attitudes about money. Consumption and debt indicate that capitalism is quickly becoming bankrupt.

Money is important, but not everything

People are cautious about debt: Nearly seven out of 10 respondents say their lives would be better if they had less debt. The primary reasons people are willing to incur debt are buying a home (50%), paying for children’s education (40%), investing in one’s own business (31%), and buying a car (27%).

Questions about capitalism

Just 40% of mainstream respondents believe that the harder a person works, the more they will earn—a contradiction of a key belief on which capitalist societies are built. 50% percent of respondents say it frustrates them to have to work so many hours just to support themselves.

Banks need to change

Consumers across the world expect banks to adapt to new technologies and take on a more personal role in customers’ lives. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say they wish they were smarter about saving money. Forty-nine percent of respondents want their financial life bundled within a single organization, and among the early adopters in the sample set (Prosumers), 55% want to pay for everything with smartphones and just as many would like to use biometric technologies for payments.

“Consumers are caught in a perfect storm of financial uncertainty: their hard work isn’t paying off, their hard-earned money is at the mercy of a stalling global economy, their desire for better money management tools remains unfulfilled and the financial future of their children looks bleak. There is no doubt that globalization and rapid advances in technology have contributed to the unfair distribution of wealth, which is at the heart of many of these issues. But companies can be as much a part of the solution as the problem. They must rewrite the contract between themselves and society, shifting their focus from creating value for shareholders, to creating value for the world at large,” said Dan Goldstein, chief strategy officer, Havas New

SOURCE: “Money, Money, Money: Attitudes Toward Credit, Consumption, and Cryptocurrency”

A good night’s sleep is something that eludes a lot of us. The stress caused by insomnia can have a long-lasting effect in both our personal and professional lives. World Sleep Day on the 17 March aims to tackle this problem head on. Sleep Guru Anandi has speardheaded the offensive against sleepless nights.

For the last five years Anandi has been working on her very own natural health therapy which originated from ancient India and uses a variety of different exercises to help maintain balance.

Here are Anandi’s top tips to improve your night’s sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Lengthen and deepen the breath, which calms the mind
  • Go to bed early and avoid technology for at least one hour before going to bed
  • A busy mind is never going to sleep well – a daily ritual that nurtures the soul is vital for relaxed slumber
  • Enjoy a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Turn the lighting down in the evening
  • Avoid heavy conversations before bed time
  • Keep your bedroom tidy and free of clutter
  • Aim for a minimum of seven hours of solid sleep per night.

Anandi battled her insomnia for 15 years and has now written her first book titled ‘Breathe Better, Sleep Better’. The book has many useful tips and exercises to help overcome insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns. You can use the link below to find out more about the book and get your very own Sleep Review.

The Sleep Guru

Sleep Review


An unpredictable business and political landscape together with regulatory change are among top geopolitical disruptions driving companies to pursue divestments, according to the 2017 Global Corporate Divestment Study by Ernst & Young.

Businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) report that external factors, such as geopolitical concerns are the most prominent in driving divestments, with 81% pointing to regional political instability and 73% citing Brexit as among the top issues. EMEA corporates are motivated by geopolitical uncertainty nearly twice as much as their Americas counterparts (59% versus 30%), resulting in faster sales but lower sale prices and lower satisfaction with long-term value derived.

– 82% of companies say macroeconomic volatility will increase their likelihood to divest over the next year

– 48% believe tax-related divestment challenges have increased in the last 12 months

– 88% say advanced analytics would help make faster, better divestment decisions

The study also found significant regional variances in divestment success across the globe, owing to the emphasis placed on speed versus value. Only 62% of EMEA companies say their divestment created long-term value versus 88% in the Americas and 80% in Asia-Pacific. For businesses in EMEA, 43% prioritize speed of closure over value compared to just 18% in the Americas and 29% in Asia-Pacific.

In the Americas, 57% of multinationals say that their divestment decisions are motivated by technological change. An overwhelming 84% are also focused on new regulatory changes. Globally, political instability is having a significant impact on divestment decisions as well, with 56% of all respondents saying they are more likely to divest as a result of an unpredictable landscape.

Steve Krouskos, EY Global Vice Chair – Transaction Advisory Services, says:

“In many cases, we are observing impulsive divestment decisions by companies feeling pressured by external factors to take quick action, often at the cost of realizing maximum value. The impact of too much speed on sale price is significant, and should motivate companies to be strategic and measured by prioritizing value when navigating a sale process.”

Two sides of tax reform

Tax has become a matter of increasing concern for businesses considering divestments, while the shifting tax landscape also brings opportunities the survey finds. Nearly half (48%) of companies surveyed believe tax challenges have increased and complicated divestment execution over the last year. When it comes to strategy, 80% of businesses say pre-sale preparation to mitigate price reductions for tax risks have been effective.

Paul Hammes, EY Global Divestiture Advisory Services Leader, says:

“The current tax environment is the most challenging for companies in recent memory. Dramatic policy shifts across the globe, and an increasing lack of certainty are leaving many corporations wondering where to place bets and to cut losses.”

Leveraging technology to future-proof businesses

Today, more than ever before, corporate decision-makers are recognizing the value of analytics. An overwhelming 88% of corporates say that advanced analytics would allow them to make faster and better divestment decisions and improve divestment preparation.

Descriptive and predictive analytics are widely acknowledged as effective in portfolio decision-making. While only 21% of executives cited effective prescriptive analytics during the divestment process, 49% of top performers cited the same, which is also a 28 percentage point increase over the broader population. However, prescriptive analytics – those that help assess how to optimize performance based on a given business strategy – have yet to win over the 48% of corporates who do not use them or say they are not effective.

When it comes to using technology platforms broadly to improve a company’s operating model, 49% of companies are looking to invest in technologies including robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), software as a service (SaaS) and Internet of Things (IoT) to make future divestments more efficient. This is especially important to automotive companies, with 73% of those corporates intending to invest in technology for this purpose.

Hammes says: “Digital is no longer just a component of our world, but central to it. Our clients realize that capitalizing on the right technological advancements will better position them for success. They are also using technology to vet opportunities and inform better decision-making, creating reliable value for the long term.”



Illustration from “Super Structured”

There is so much to do. We have a to-do-list of considerable lengths already and are often asked to add more things to it. We receive new tasks when a colleague asks us to do something, when a client calls, when a supplier e-mails us, when we come to think of something we mustn’t forget.

If we start doing several things at once and do a little on each task, it is easy to get the feel in that we aren’t getting anywhere and not finishing anything (which might in fact be true). And this sensation does not only appear to be a feeling. Harvard Business Review published a visualization created using data from the productivity-measuring software RescueTime a while ago, where two people’s working-methods during a typical workday were compared; one person did one thing at a time and the other skipped back and forth between tasks (which is referred to as multitasking). In this specific example, the multitasking person only completed half as many tasks as the one who focused on one thing at a time. It might not be based on a full-blown scientific study, but the visualization does give food for thought.

Doing one thing at a time is preferable

When things are busy and you are tempted to do several things simultaneously (“since you just have so much on your plate right now”), it is important that you make an effort to only do one thing at a time, and remove anything that distracts you, so that you give yourself the best prerequisites for being able to focus and get things done.

And when it comes down to it, we can do the same even when we are not under pressure. If you continuously determine in one way or another which task that is the right one to do right now, then you will be able to do it wholeheartedly and with concentration, and without thinking of what you are not doing and what tasks that will have to wait a little while longer.


Yes, why? Well, at least to me, it is an enjoyment and derives me great pleasure to do something wholeheartedly and properly; to see something grow and develop through effort and persistence. The quality of what we do will also be less than it could be if we multitask and do many things simultaneously. We become more stressed, feel scattered, we do a little here and there but nothing substantial, and we practically flood our minds with parallel and conflicting impressions, which makes us even more stressed.

Do this

So, how then do we downsize our doings and curb our multitasking tendencies? Well, we can begin by doing the following:

  • Close or minimize all windows on your screen other than that which you are currently working with.
  • Close all programs which you are not using at the moment.
  • Maximize the window for the e-mail which you are currently in the process of composing so that you cannot catch a glimpse of the subject lines for all the other e-mails in the inbox which are awaiting your attention.
  • Turn off all auditory notifications and previews for recently received e-mails (obviously).
  • Put away all other papers and place an empty sheet of paper at the top of every pile you have on your desk, so that you do not risk being distracted when you happen to see a text about something completely different from what you are trying to work on right now.
  • Close the door (if you have one) so that you are left undisturbed (to a greater extent).
  • Get out of the office and sit somewhere else where there is nothing other than what you are currently working with that could distract you.
  • Close yourself in your own “bubble” and shut the rest of the world out by putting on headphones, and turn on some music you like or ”white noise” which you enjoy listening to.
Prioritize what you have prioritized

It is when we are most stressed out that we need to simplify and downsize what we are doing and what surrounds us the most, since then we will at least not be more stressed by all the sensory stimuli we are taking in (visual, auditory, et c), and we might even decrease our stress-levels and actually perform better in what we do. If we direct all our focus and energy towards completing one task it will get done much faster than if we keep doing a little here and there on other tasks simultaneously.

Focusing on one thing at a time and getting rid of all distractions takes practice and determination for me, and I have to be firm in my resolution to take whatever repercussions focusing on just one task and closing everything else out, might have. But, it is definitely worth the effort.

What is your favourite method?

What is your best trick to only work with and focus on the task which has the highest priority right now? Leave a comment below!

SOURCE: David Steirnholm author of Super Structured


What is feedback

“You’re so inspirational”
“She’s so charismatic”
“You’re not very diplomatic”
“He’s being constructive”
“You’re not proactive enough”
“He’s so confident”
“You need to be more statesmanlike”

Have you ever said any of these things to or about your team members – or had them said to you? What response did these statements elicit? A rebuff, a brusque “Well I don’t think so…” or a self-effacing “oh, it’s nothing…” – or simply bafflement? The intention may well have been positive – to praise someone or to point out where they need to improve – but these descriptive words may not have had the effect the speaker intended.
The inspirational person was secretly thinking they’d over-shared.

The charismatic leader isn’t unanimously seen that way by others.

The ‘diplomat’ causes upset with their outbursts.

The constructive boss’s words are being received as a thousand cuts.

The recipient of ‘not proactive enough’ has no idea what to do to hit the mark.

The person described as confident experienced their first presentation as a nervous wreck.

The ‘unstatesmanlike’ person infers they need to read up on Sir Winston Churchill.

Instead of feeling positive about what to do more/less of, the recipients may simply feel labelled. Between what the speakers say and the recipients of their opinions actually hear is the potential for a whole heap of confusion and misunderstanding.
That’s because their idea of feedback is to offer their opinion.

They’re entitled to their opinion.

However, relaying that opinion to their direct report, colleague or boss without stopping to pause for thought isn’t going to help anyone; it will only confuse.
In each case, the speaker needs to figure out what the other person did – the behaviour – that led to them forming that opinion.


Because if the speaker gives feedback that is considered, clear and actionable – focused on the actual, observable behaviour and not their subjective opinion – the recipient will be able to identify what they need to do more or less of. The colleague will be able to corroborate – or contradict – the behaviour under discussion. We tend to use adjectives to express these opinions, and when we do that the recipient can (rightly) feel labelled. What’s far more useful is to pinpoint the behaviour that prompted the speaker’s subjective inference.

Here’s your homework: next time you find yourself thinking someone’s ‘charismatic’, ‘forceful’, ‘aggressive’, etc. stop, think and pinpoint the actual behaviour. To put it another way for those who get the grammar: use verbs not adjectives.

SOURCE: Dawn Sillet

Author of The Feedback Book

February 23rd, 2017

In this series of podcasts we talk to Javier Sanches Lamelas who was previously Group VP Marketing of the Coca Cola Company, where he led global campaigns and worldwide marketing initiatives. He is now the CEO of Top Line MARTKeting.

Our first podcast in the series is about the topic of creativity vs technology in marketing and how the industry has changed because of this power struggle.

Javier can be found at: