Posts tagged: Oman

Dec 29 2008

Public service, new websites

At the beginning of November, I received a phone call from someone working at Public Service Events, a quasi government body which organises promotional events such as conferences and workshops on behalf of government.

I had, apparently, been identified as an SME too small to bid for government tenders.  Aware of the discrimination this caused, certain elements in public service were examining measures to enable freelancers, such as myself, to bid on local and central government projects not exceeding £140,000 (or similar figure) in budget.  Various bureaucratic hurdles in the tender process would be waived.

I had come to somebody’s attention as a practitioner of accessible website design.  The caller asked if I would be prepared to speak at an event to be held in London on 6th December.  As it happened, I had a prior engagement, playing Dandini in the East Leake Amateur Players’ pantomime that week, so I had to decline.

If you look on the PSCA website you will find that the meeting was entitled ‘Skills for the Future –Leadership and Management in the Public Sector’.  It’s not quite how I interpreted my caller’s explanation, but is, presumably, the same event.

In the meantime, I have built two more small websites according to accessible principles, for a client in Oman.  In Oman note, not UK.

See them at Oasis Tours, Oman, and Music Awards Oman.

First published 23rd December 2007

Dec 29 2008

Oman photos used on Saga cruise

How to dress appropriately to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat

How to dress appropriately to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat

I was approached by a husband and wife company earlier this year for permission to use some of my photos of Oman at Oman Vistas in a presentation to passengers on a Saga voyage. The MV Spirit of Adventure was cruising to Sri Lanka from Muscat via Mumbai and Goa.

It seems that my photos were particularly useful for revealing to ladies how they should, and should NOT, dress to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, or Jama'a in Al Ghubrah, Muscat. I had turned up at the mosque dressed inappropriately, as shown, and been told to leave.

How ladies should NOT dress to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat

How ladies should NOT dress to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat

Female passengers have been turned away from the mosque on previous occasions because the length of their blouse sleeves did not cover the wrists appropriately. In fact, I was even admonished for showing just the slightest trace of my hair beneath the front of my hijab. To be honest, I felt humiliated. But there you are. When in Muscat, do what the Muscatians tell you to do.

Petunias at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat

Petunias at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat

However, the gardens are lovely. From November to March, Muscat's roadside gardens revel in 'zillions of petunias', as a friend of mine once put it. Presumably, the target audience on the cruise also enjoy gardens, since this photo was used too.

This item was first published on 29th November 2006.

Dec 29 2008

International Quality Centre and IiP

Robert Macleod, MD of Assessment Northeast, a partner with the Centre for Assessment and Recognition Northwest, in The International Quality Centre or IQC, contacted me recently, to tell me that things have changed since I wrote an article about Investors in People (IiP) on behalf of Oman Economic Review in 2003.

The projected transfer of the international division from IiP to Exemplas to undertake international work on behalf of IiP, that I wrote about in my article, was revoked in 2004. Mr Macleod said he would be grateful if I could update the record.

Investors in People awarded the International Quality Centre a licence to grant the IiP quality standard for eleven years in 2004. The IiP Standard was itself revised and re-published in November 2004.

Having been granted the remit to manage IiP assessment services internationally, IQC's main role is to help develop the IiP infrastructure in overseas countries, including the design of key systems and training of key staff within the partner organisation such as Quality Manager and Practitioner Developer roles.

Through Assessment Northeast and the Centre for Assessment Northwest, the company also runs its own training courses on understanding, implementing and assessing the IiP standard.

Most of the international work currently is in multinational companies overseas. At the time that I originally wrote in 2003, the IiP standard was to be launched in the Sultanate of Oman. Since then, the IiP coordinator at the British Council has left. The latest Omani institution to implement IiP has been BankMuscat, which is bringing in the standard on a branch-by-branch basis, but as a whole, the concept of adopting the standard within the country has languished.

An assessment of the impact of the IiP standard was undertaken by Databuild, a company specialising in mobile data capture, and subsequently taken over by ROCC Uniclass Enterprise Solutions.

The most striking conclusion of Databuild's report, published in August 2004, was that "changes made by recognised employers in the three years prior to the study increased profit by 7.16% of sales, or £505 per employee per year, compared to only 3.78% of sales or £197 per employee per year by non-Investor in People organisations."

EEF: the manufacturers' organisation – formerly the Engineering Employers' Federation – published a study entitled 'Skills for Productivity: can the UK deliver?'earlier in 2006. This study showed that although a majority of firms were aware of the IiP Standard, take-up remains low, with only 12% of companies having achieved the standard, and a further 15% working towards it, even though the results show that companies adopting the standard significantly increase their profitability per employee, particularly in medium -size companies employing between 250-1000 people.

The EEF study also reveals that firms achieving the IiP standard are:

  • substantially more likely to have a training budget
  • are far more likely to claim that the business plan has a significant impact on training
  • report a positive impact on productivity from training
  • are more likely to assess training outcomes

In addition, companies that are working towards the standard were more likely to have achieved higher productivity growth than non-IiP companies, suggesting that the benefits of IiP begin when firms first become engaged with the IiP process.

Are the companies that adopt the IiP standard more likely to have a business and organisational outlook which would enable them to increase their profitability anyway? In which case, the IiP standard provides a template by which to organise and assess employer-employee relations.

Would the companies that have not adopted IiP be less likely to benefit from IiP because the organisational psyche does not account employee 'contentment' as being fundamental to business success?

It's food for thought.

This item was first published on 12th August 2006.

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