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August 2009
Dear Learn & Perform subscriber,

The formal Education and Work application gap must be bridged. This has been a recurring theme in every country I visited during the month of July. With governments pumping in billions in stimulus packages to jumpstart the economy, the issue of the young graduate being unsuitable to the workplace without the needed competence has been consistently debated. Is this the failure of the education system? Let us cover in this month’s E-News:

Formal education and workplace application gaps
Workplace competence
Five moves to make NOW
SMR News
Formal education and workplace application gaps

Do student grades determine their true potential? It does not. It looks like that there is huge gap between employer expectations and what the universities produce. This inconsistency between educational output, industry requirements and priorities pose a serious problem. Skills Invest Forum organised at the Dubai Knowledge Village assembled a team of experts to address this issue. A 2009 report titled “the Arab Human Capital Challenge – the voice of the CEO’s has lessons for all of us. The two factors cited as causes are worth further studying – the first is the need for the universities to partner with industry to identify needs and priorities, the second is for a review of the teaching methods. A joint study by the Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings Institution and the Dubai School of Government states that a continued dependence on rote teaching methods stifles creativity and independent thinking. In July, we had the opportunity of partnering with a government linked corporation to train 500 new graduates. The emphasis was getting them to find their inner voice and aligning their action to values. The goal was to get them to think and become work ready. It was indeed a very productive and valuable experience. To get more details of the graduates workplace programmes and accredited training programme, please e-mail

Workplace competence
More than 90% of the CEOs in the report described above valued behavioural competencies much more than functional competencies. It is possible to train a turkey to climb a tree but it is much easier to hire a squirrel was a statement quoted often in my interactions with most CEOs. How do we identify the underlying attributes to match an individual to a preferred job? Given the current difficult economic scene, it is vital to make the right placement decisions to avoid expensive mistakes. Getting the infrastructure right to make such decisions is not easy. It requires a systematic effort to get the systems right first. The Competency Summit in Melaka, Malaysia features several international speakers who will share best practices and ideas on how you can get the systems right without a trial and error approach. For details, please e-mail

Five moves to make NOW

This article in the Fortune magazine caught my attention. Certain practices that are always valuable for business success actually become much easier to adopt during an economic recession. The five moves are:

  1. Evaluate employees better – look after not just your A players but also the B players. Automate the review process and make reviews quarterly.
  2. Mine employees for ideas – to increase savings and cut costs without destroying value, ask your team.
  3. Expand your mind about risks – risks that no one wanted to address can be addressed now.
  4. Manage for value – Now is the time to look at the often quoted Pareto principle – 80:20 rule. Focus on the 20% high value items that gives you 80% returns.
  5. Forget corporate games – just perform. Add value and build relationships with your stakeholders.

For details of the article, contact

SMR News

SMR Gulf W.L.L. in partnership with Asia HRD Congress will be hosting the first HRD Congress Middle East North Africa conference November 15 & 16, 2009. The mega event will have close to 500 participants and 50 speakers. For details, please e-mail

Jim Kirkpatrick, SMR USA will be hosting a series of evaluation workshops in association with Booze Allen, he is also writing a series of articles to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Four level framework written by his legendary father Don Kirkpatrick. For details, please email

The HRDPower team has launched a new product Assessment Power – to make your assessments easier and more effective, try it. Details from

Have a good and productive August. I will be in touch in early September.

Best wishes,
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