Government makes public sector work more attractive and accessible for SMEs

public sector procurementThe latest changes to public procurement regulations in the UK have now come into force, which the Cabinet Office claims will make it easier for businesses to win government and other public sector contracts. The new regulations have a particular focus on making work more accessible and attractive for small and medium sized enterprises. The key reforms which came into force on the 26 February include the abolition of a pre-qualification stage for procurements below the EU thresholds and a requirement to take account of guidance on qualitative selection issued by the Cabinet Office for above EU threshold; the requirement for contracting authorities to insert provisions in all public contracts to ensure prompt payment through the supply chain; and the requirement to advertise as many public sector opportunities in one place (Contracts Finder), and to publish award notices for contracts and call-offs from framework agreements.

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The latest issue of the weekly Insight is now available to view online

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; A new study from IBM challenges some of the most commonly held myths about Generation Y and lays down a few uncomfortable truths for employers; Our regular columnist Simon Heath likes this year’s shortlisted Design Awards entries, but not the way they are described; the Government sets out to define what makes a good public sector property design and management specialist; a call for greater understanding of how more women could develop and stick with STEM careers; some good news about fit notes workplace absence; the Green Building Council challenges developers to take a lead in environmental property; and the latest moves to shift London’s traffic, cyclists and pedestrians to new underground routes. Sign up to for weekly updates via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

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Report exposes myths and uncomfortable truths about Generation Y

Multi-generational workplace generation YA new report from IBM proves what we at Insight have been arguing for some time; Millennials have some differences to previous generations of employees, but ultimately they have more in common than most commentators acknowledge and their impact on a multi-generational workplace has been completely misrepresented. While the report, Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths, acknowledges Gen Y’s different experience of the digital world, it also demonstrates what we would suggest has been obvious all along; that unless Generation Y has arrived from another planet, it will share many of the strengths, weaknesses, drives, fears and abilities common to other demographic groupings. The study of 1,784 employees from organisations in 12 countries challenges many of the key myths about Generation Y and also lays out a number of ‘uncomfortable truths’ for employers.

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Employers embrace mobile workforces but retain traditional workspaces

Employers are embracing mobile workforces yet retaining traditional workspacesNearly three quarters of employers that offer staff the opportunity to work flexibly are failing to reorganise their workplaces to reflect the new ways of working. Research commissioned by US based AV company Barco, found that while 86 percent of organisations indicated a remote working approach was being used within their business; rather than using this policy to reduce desk space, 73 percent of organisations admitted they still had allocated desks. This is despite the fact that the top three drivers for unifying communications are to increase productivity (51%), reduce costs (44%), and increase collaboration (27%). And though the BYOD trend is continuing, with half (50%) saying personal laptops and personal tablets (45.2 %) are being used in the workplace; 82 percent of those surveyed said that laptops are still company issued.

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London reveals latest plans to move cars, bikes and people underground

london-underground-roadsThe Mayor of London has revealed the latest plans to move the city’s pedestrians, bikes and cars underground and elevated on decking. The latest proposals would see a number of the capital’s major roads mounted or buried with the space saved at ground level converted to greener and more pleasant uses (and property development obv).  An announcement from the Greater London Authority claims that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the scheme which will include new tunnels, fly-unders and decking. It follows hard on the heels of another proposal to create the Underline, a network of cycle lanes and walkways based on the city’s existing web of unused tunnels. The roads proposed for the new scheme include the A4 in Hammersmith, the A13 in East London and sections of the North Circular Road.

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Over half of employers reject mandatory quotas for women on boards

Over half of employers reject mandatory quotas for women on boardsThe Women on Boards review published by Lord Davies in February 2011 looked at the obstacles that prevent many women from reaching senior positions in business, such as FTSE 350 corporate boards; and set a target of 25 per cent of board positions being held by women by 2015. As the anniversary of the report approaches, new research by the CIPD, business leaders and Business and Women & Equalities Minister Jo Swinson MP, has revealed resistance to the idea of mandatory female quotas as mooted by some EU members, with over half those polled suggesting that the government should instead set a more ambitious voluntary target to improve gender diversity in boardrooms post-2015. Two thirds of respondents said that an open and supportive culture that encourages gender diversity would be a more effective way of improving gender diversity at board level.

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Leading role for property sector in promoting ‘green infrastructure’ says UK-GBC

Key role for property sector in promoting 'green infrastructure' says UK-GBCThe property industry can play a leading role in protecting and enhancing national features and biodiversity. That is according to a new report by the UK Green Building Council Task Group which presents the business case for “green infrastructure”, the term used to describe natural and semi-natural features ranging from street trees and roof gardens to parks and woodland. Demystifying Green Infrastructure finds that introducing green infrastructure into the built environment offers a range of business opportunities, including an increase in the value of land and property, as well as social and environmental benefits. Aimed primarily at developers and occupiers, the report also identifies risks from failing to incorporate adequate green infrastructure into projects, such as delays in planning, increased costs and reputational damage.

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The pressing need for more women to forge careers in STEM disciplines

????????????????????One of the most pressing economic challenges facing the UK is producing enough qualified professionals in the key science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines. And, as a number of new reports make clear, the problem is compounded by the failure of enough women to develop careers in those areas that will define the country’s economic future. It was a point raised in a recent Government report into the UK’s digital future. Writing for the BBC earlier this month Dame Prof Ann Dowling the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering laid out the scale of the problem; by 2022 the UK will need at least 1.82 million new engineering, science and technology professionals. What is also becoming clear is that, while many women are keen to develop STEM careers, they face a series of obstacles at every step.

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Government publishes competency framework for property professionals

public sector property professionals The UK Government has published its new Property Profession Competency Framework which it describes as ‘an outline of the skills required to manage property assets at both operational and strategic level.’ The Government Property Profession (GPP) framework aims to provide a basis for improving the capability of civil servants working in property asset management roles. The GPP competencies complement the Civil Service competency framework and are defined as: professional and technical expertise; statutory, regulatory and professional requirements; interpretation and analysis of data; sustaining and developing the GPP. It is hoped that these competencies and levels will appear in job descriptions for property asset management roles and be used in appraisals for GPP members. Image: award winning Rochdale Borough Council HQ.

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Fit note linked to sharp reduction in long term work absences

fit-noteThe much discussed ‘fit note’ legislation introduced in the UK in 2010 may have resulted in a sharp reduction in the number of people taking long terms absences from work, according to a new study, which also revealed a starkly growing number of people taking time off work to deal with mental health issues. Researchers from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool claim to have found evidence that the UK ‘fit note,’ which replaced the ‘sick note’ in 2010 in the UK, is linked to fewer people taking long term sick leave of 12 or more weeks. A report based on the same study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine also found that the proportion of people off sick with depression, anxiety, and stress has increased noticeably.

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