11 February 2009 South African state spending on education remains its single biggest investment, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. “Trends in performance, both in terms of teaching and learning, show a worrying persistence of the social divisions of the past,” he said. An additional R700-million would be allocated for higher education subsidies and to accommodate anticipated growth in student enrolment from 783 900 in 2008 to 836 800 by 2011. There would also be a strengthening of training colleges and a recapitalisation of technical schools over the next three years, Manuel said. “Ironically, precisely where education is most needed to help break the cycle of poverty is where infrastructure, administrative and teacher capacity are least impressive,” Motlanthe said during the opening of Parliament. The President also raised concerns about the drop-out rate, particularly at secondary and tertiary levels, and challenged the country’s education system to produce the kind of skills needed by society. President Kgalema Motlanthe, in his state of the nation address on Friday, said he was concerned at a trend of schools in rural and impoverished areas lacking infrastructure and capacity. Source: BuaNews The government’s key priorities in education included extending the no-fee school policy from the current 40 percent to 60 percent of schools, expanding the school nutrition programme, reducing average class sizes in schools, serving lower income communities, and increasing expenditure on school buildings. “Education spending has grown by 14 percent a year for the past three years and accounts for R140.4-billion in the spending plans of provinces and national government for 2008/09,” Manuel said during his 2009/10 Budget speech. A further R330-million would go towards to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, while funding was also available for the establishment of a new National Education Evaluation Unit, which would evaluate a new salary dispensation for teachers, linked to school and teacher performance.
Open enrollment is one of the most important and frustrating times of the year both for HR professionals and employees. It can be especially stressful for HR teams. Why? Because employees count on these benefits to take care of themselves and their families, but it can be challenging to get them engaged in the process. Honestly, that’s understandable. Sometimes the enrollment processes are complicated and require some significant decisions on the part of employees. Given that in many companies, the staff is already facing stress and time crunches from their regular work, it can feel impossible to get them to pay attention, understand their options, and get their paperwork turned in on time. Here are some tips that may make the process a little smoother in your organization.How to Generate Excitement About Benefits Open EnrollmentOf all the things that happen in the lives of your organization’s employees, benefits open enrollment may not be the most exciting. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t raise some level of excitement around the process. Excitement is contagious. Building some enthusiasm may catch on and make the entire process easier and more interesting for everyone. Generating excitement requires HR professionals to put on their marketing hats. Remember that what you are offering is valuable to your staff. All you need in return is a little of their time and attention. Leverage this and develop a plan to build excitement as you move toward the open enrollment period. Start early and not just by sending notices of the upcoming deadlines but by demonstrating value, featuring benefits, and demonstrating the ease of the process. Consider every step of your plan and think of creative ways to build interest. Maybe instead of just endless emails and paper packets, invite leaders to address staff members to demonstrate their excitement and relay a sense of importance when thinking of the future.How to Shorten the Time it Takes for Employees to Return Their Benefits Open Enrollment DocumentationOnce you have done everything you can to get employees engaged in the process, it is essential to keep the process moving. For many HR managers, open enrollment feels like a time of hounding people for late paperwork. Why not get ahead of it and find ways to get people to turn in their documents as early as possible. Even employees who are masters of making deadlines in their daily work can have trouble getting those open enrollment forms in on time. Perhaps, it might be time to add a little gamification to the process. Game theory is now being used in many sectors to get people inspired to accomplish tasks and meet deadlines. A simple contest to reward timely completion can reap clear benefits. What about small prizes for those who turn everything in on the first day? Or consider an ongoing raffle that people enter only when their forms are submitted. Even small simple prizes, such as gift cards, will engage the competitive spirit of your staff.Tips to Improve Employee Awareness of their Open Enrollment OptionsOne of the biggest obstacles to getting employees to submit their open enrollment paperwork is a lack of understanding of the options. In many cases, the choices can feel more and more confusing, and staff members can feel paralyzed by the decisions they have to make. The best way to combat this is by offering as much training and information as possible without making them feel even more overwhelmed. Often, the best way to approach this is by providing information in multiple formats. Some organizations have developed e-learning modules to allow employees to learn about the option on their own time and in a form they may be more comfortable with. Webinars are also an excellent alternative option giving staff access to the information and a chance to ask questions. For others, in-person meetings are more effective. Especially for organizations with multiple locations, it may be worth it to send a senior leader to each site to offer instruction and Q&A. Just be sure they are prepared with all of the pertinent information.Benefits open enrollment will always be a cause for some amount of stress for HR professionals. However, with a little creative thinking and planning, you can reduce the frustration both for you and your employees.
With the growing interest in being able to squeeze information out “Big Data”, statistical analysis is being put into the spotlight. One tool that is rapidly growing in popularity is called the “R Programming Language”. R is an Open Source Programming language, and the thing that is getting people excited about it is that it is exceptionally good at being able to analyze huge data sets. It is a GNU-based project and it has parallels with the S Statistical Programming language. It is a framework for statistical modeling and analysis.R was launched via an academic paper in 1993 at the University of Aukland by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman (the R’s behind the language name). It has since become the tool of choice for large scale statistical analysis by academics, scientists and programmers. There are roughly two million users of the R language now. R is beginning to be integrated into proprietary software. Oracle, IBM and SAS, for example, all offer some sort of support for R. And some small companies like Revolution Analytics have spring up which base their complete business model around the R language, providing both software and services.The success of R in the academic world has spread to the world of Business Intelligence. R is especially good at an area of statistics called predictive analytics. It is useful for identifying trends and patterns from very large data sets. Predictive analytics is used in the fields of retail, financial services, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and others. It was used by Wal-Mart to understand the habits and needs of their customers in developing their winning pricing model.David Smith of Revolution Analytics gave an example of the speed of the R language. He said that “the FAA publishes a data set that contains every commercial airline take off and landing between 1987 and 2008. That’s more than 13 gigabytes of data. By analyzing that data, we can figure out the likelihood of airline delays in one second.”Business Intelligence is one area that is changing and developing very quickly. It looks like R may play a defining role in a large amount of that new development.
Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… klint finley Tags:#enterprise#mobile Related Posts 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now If you still think Apple isn’t taking the enterprise seriously you’d better think again: Apple has hired at least five former RIM sales staff in the past in the past 18 months. The Wall Street Journal discovered the defections on LinkedIn, and Apple confirmed that each of the employees the Journal found are indeed Apple employees.Here’s the list:Paul Alvarez Was: Global Strategic Account Manager at RIM Is: Enterprise iPad & iPhone Sales Rep for Canada at AppleJoe Bartlett Was: Senior Global Sales Manage at RIM. Is: iOS (iPhone and iPad) Enterprise Sales Rep – New England at ApplePeter Decker Was: Global Account Manager at RIM. Is: iPhone Sales Rep Greater New York City Area at AppleSteve Marshall Was: Global Strategic Account Manager at RIM. Is: iPhone Sales Rep Greater New York City Area at AppleGeoff Perfect Was: Head of Strategic Sales at RIM. Is: Apple Head of Enterprise iPhone SalesThere could be others, these are just the ones the Journal found on LinkedIn.Apple has been seen as ambivalent to the enterprise in the past. Steve Jobs said earlier this year:What I love about the consumer market that I always hated about the enterprise market is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves. They go yes or no. And if enough of them say yes, we get to come to work tomorrow. You know? That’s how it works. It’s really simple. That’s why in the enterprise market it’s not so simple. The people that use the products don’t decide for themselves. And the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused. We love just trying to make the best product in the world for people, and having them tell us by how they vote with their wallets whether we’re on track or not.The iPhone and the iPad are actually part of what’s causing that dichotomy between the consumer market and the enterprise to change. Both Apple’s desktop and iOS device enterprise sales have surged this year. The biggest contributor to iOS’s success in the enterprise has been employees bringing their devices from home to work.Apple improved enterprise support for iOS devices earlier this year. Bringing in experience mobile enterprise sales staff is a logical way to compliment that investment. Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… IT + Project Management: A Love Affair