Tag Archives: Labour Market

Reconceiving CSR for Business and the Labour Market

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This contribution maintains that it is in the private sector’s interest to actively participate in reconceiving education for societal well being. It posits that there are win-win opportunities for companies and national governments as they cultivate human capital. Indeed, companies can create synergistic value for both business and society. Such a strategic approach can result in new business models and cross-sector collaborations that will inevitably lead to operational efficiencies, cost savings and significant improvements to the firms’ bottom lines. The CSR initiatives in education can also help organisations to improve the recruitment and retention of talented employees. This paper has reported that employees want to be part of organisations that genuinely demonstrate their concern for society. There was mention of strategic philanthropic initiatives that manifest corporate behaviours that also satisfy much of the stakeholders’ aspirations. Organisations can always make use effective CSR communications to attract the best employees and talent pool from the labour market. Ideally, businesses ought to treat employees as internal customers as it is critical for their long term success. In a sense, the organisational culture and its commitment for CSR engagement can play an integral role, in this regard. In fact, CSR and environment sustainability issues are increasingly becoming ubiquitous practices in different contexts, particularly for the youngest work force.

This research indicated that there is a business case for corporate sustainable and responsible behaviours. Besides, minimising staff turnover, CSR may lead to systematic benefits including employee productivity, corporate reputation and operational efficiencies. This implies that CSR is an antecedent for an optimal financial performance (towards achieving profitability, increasing sales, return on investment et cetera). At the same time, the businesses’ CSR engagement could create significant value to society as well. The corporations’ involvement in setting curricula and relevant course programmes may also help to improve the effectiveness of education systems across many contexts. It is imperative that businesses become key stakeholders in the provision of education and training. There is a possibility that CSR programmes could reconnect the businesses’ economic success with societal progress. Proactive companies who engage in strategic CSR behaviours could uncover new business opportunities (Lauring and Thomsen, 2008) and achieve competitive advantage (Porter and Kramer, 2006). Indeed, businesses are in a position to nurture employees by enhancing their knowledge and skill sets. This will inevitably lead to more competent staff and to significant improvements in work productivity among other benefits.

CSR can be reconceived strategically for business and educational outcomes. This research has given specific examples of how different organisations were engaging in responsible behaviours with varying degrees of intensity and success. It has identified cost effective and efficient operations. It reported measures which were enhancing the human resources productivity. Other practices sought to engage in philanthropic practices and stewardship principles. Indeed there are positive outcomes that represent a leap forward for the CSR agenda. This contribution reiterated that it is in the businesses’ self-interest to maintain good relations with employees. Evidently, there is more to CSR than public relations, greenwashing and posturing behaviours. Businesses need to engage with stakeholders and to forge long lasting relationships with them. Corporate responsible behaviours bring reputational benefits, enhance the firms’ image among external stakeholders and often lead to a favourable climate of trust and cooperation within the company itself (Herzberg et al., 2011). A participative leadership will also boost the employees’ morale and job satisfaction. This will also lead to lower staff turnover rates and greater productivity levels in workplace environments (Fida et al., 2014). Notwithstanding, there are many businesses that still need to align their organisational culture and business ethos in order to better embrace responsible behavioural practices.

Governments also have an important role to play. They can take an active leading role in triggering corporate responsible behaviours in education. Greater efforts are required by policy makers, the private sector and other stakeholders. The governments could give reasonable incentives (through financial resources in the form of grants or tax relief) and enforce regulation in certain areas where responsible behaviour is necessary. They need to maintain two-way communication systems with stakeholders. This paper posited that the countries’ educational outcomes and their curriculum programmes should better respond to the employers’ requirements. Therefore, educational programmes ought to instil students with relevant knowledge and skills that are really required by business and industry. Several governments, particularly those from developing nations ought to step up with their commitment to develop new solutions to help underprivileged populations and subgroups. New solutions could better address the diverse needs of learners and prospective employees. This research indicated that there is scope for governments to work in collaboration with corporations in order to improve the employability of tomorrow’s human resources.
Research Limitations and Future Research Avenues

It must be recognised that there are various forms of businesses out there, hailing from diverse sectors and industries. In addition, there are many stakeholder influences, which can possibly affect the firms’ level of social responsibility toward education. It is necessary for governments to realise that they need to work alongside business practitioners in order to reconceive education and life-long learning for all individuals in society. The majority of employers that were mentioned in this research were representative of a few corporations that are based in the most developed economies. Yet, there could be different CSR practices across diverse contexts. Future research could consider different sampling frames, methodologies and analyses which may yield different outcomes.

This contribution has put forward the ‘shared value’ approach in education (Camilleri, 2014; Porter and Kramer, 2011). It is believed that since this relatively ‘new’ proposition is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated, it may be more easily understood by business practitioners themselves. In a nutshell, this synergistic value notion requires particular focus on the human resources’ educational requirements. At the same time, ‘shared value’ also looks after the stakeholders’ needs (Camilleri, 2015). This promising concept could contribute towards bringing long term sustainability by addressing economic and societal deficits in the realms of education. A longitudinal study in this area of research could possibly investigate the long term effects of involving the business and industry in setting curriculum programmes and relevant learning outcomes. Presumably, shared value can be sustained only if there is a genuine commitment to organisational learning for corporate sustainability and responsibility, and if there is the willingness to forge long lasting relationships with key stakeholders.

Recommendations
The corporations’ social responsibility in the provision of education has potential to create shared value as it opens up new opportunities for business and society. There are competitive advantages that may arise from nurturing human resources (McKenzie and Woodruff, (2013), Kehoe and Wright (2013) and Hunt and Michael, (1983). As firms reap profits and grow, they can generate virtuous circles of positive multiplier effects. In a way, businesses could create value for themselves as well as for society by sponsoring educational institutions, specific courses and individuals. In conclusion, this contribution puts forward the following recommendations to foster an environment where businesses are encouraged to become key stakeholders in education:

• Promotion of business processes that bring economic, social and environmental value through the encouragement of innovative and creative approaches in continuous professional development and training in sustainable and responsible practices; including socially responsible investing (SRI), responsible supply chain management, the circular economy, responsible procurement of sustainable products, consumer awareness of sustainability / eco labels, climate change and the environmental awareness;

• Enhancement of collaborations and partnership agreements between governments, business and industry leaders, trade unions and civil society. There should be an increased CSR awareness, continuous dialogue, constructive communication and trust among all stakeholders.

• National governments ought to create regulatory frameworks which encourage and enable the businesses’ participation in the formulation of educational programmes and their curricula.

• Policy makers should ensure that there are adequate levels of performance in areas such as employee health and safety, suitable working conditions and sustainable environmental practices among business and industry.

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, Education, Human Resources, Stakeholder Engagement

Economic Growth Correlates with Investment in Education

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TimesofMalta.com

Now more than ever, today’s employees need to possess adequate skills and knowledge to enable them to perform a wider range of tasks and functions within their organisational contexts. The labour market has to become flexible and adaptable to the continuously changing market environment. Moreover, the educational institutions’ investments in curriculum development will help to provide incentives for individuals to commit resources to their careers. Many academic studies have shown that economic growth is increasingly correlated to the effectiveness of the countries’ educational policies and their related curriculum development programmes (OECD, 2012). Educators should ensure that their policies, systems and reforms contribute to the supply of well-skilled people for the labour market. Prospective students of continuous professional development programmes and of higher education courses may be new entrants (school leavers), people continuing to expand their existing knowledge and skills in their workplace or job seekers registering for employment. On the other hand, lower social capital investments can impact on a country’s economic growth prospects as well as on its productivity levels and competitiveness. This may translate in serious negative effects for the individual’s well-being as well as for the cohesiveness of society.

For instance, entrepreneurship programmes in post-secondary or tertiary institutions are usually based on multiple-skills approaches. Students who follow such courses acquire key competences in creativity, innovation as they enhance their business acumen. In addition, they usually develop their social skills, particularly if they work in groups. Students can learn how to work collaboratively in a team environment. Educators should try to adopt student-centred approaches, including case studies, active participation in cooperative learning, exercises such as role-playing, debating, and the like. In fact, assessments of entrepreneurship studies may also involve the delivery of a sales pitch and the drawing-up of a business plan. Both of these tasks can be carried out in groups of three or four students. Ideally, students should also demonstrate their written communications skills. They may be required to produce media releases which feature their unique selling proposition(s) to their chosen markets. Such methodologies may possibly entice students’ curiosity and motivation in the subject. In the process, the students will also learn how to work in tandem as they develop their interpersonal skills.

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In a similar vein, successful entrepreneurs also have to work closely with people. Perhaps, it is critical for business owners (including micro-enterprises) to foster great relationships with employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, investors and more. It goes without saying that some individuals may exhibit higher interpersonal traits than others, but others can learn and improve upon their existing skills. As prospective entrepreneurs, the students are expected to come up with fresh, innovative ideas, and make good decisions in their projects. Arguably, creativity, problem solving and recognising opportunities in the marketplace are some of the specific skills that may be acquired. However, it is important that the students’ decisions are based on relevant market research. The entrepreneurship programme will have to provide practical skills and knowledge to enable the student to produce effective goods or services in a profitable manner. One of the learning outcomes of this subject is to help students to set their goals and to create good plans to achieve them. Afterwards, the students can proceed with the organisation, leadership and implementation of their project. The students’ multi-skills will help them leverage themselves and to achieve a competitive advantage over others.

 

The theoretical aspect of the entrepreneurship studies teaches students how to develop coherent, well thought-through business plans. The students acquire sufficient knowledge of the main functional areas of business (sales, marketing, finance, and operations). In addition, the students are taught how entrepreneurs raise their capital. They will also learn about financial projections and how to determine the break-even point of their projects.

 

Indeed, the entrepreneurship studies focus on developing the students’ potential skills. Throughout such pragmatic educational programmes, the students will have to use their abilities and talents to operate resources or to manage others with a reasonable degree of confidence and motivation.  The students who are successful in their entrepreneurship studies nurture their skills, knowledge and competences. This contribution suggests that multi-skilling approaches in education can bring increased competitiveness and productivity in the labour market.

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