31 July 2015

How to strengthen your international offerings

Author :

In order to establish and sustain international student growth, institutions must be aware of the importance of stakeholder relationships, support students through industry and community engagement and overcoming offshore learning barriers to grow competitiveness. 

I recently interviewed one of our expert speakers from the Strengthening International Education Opportunities Conference, Claire Finch, Offshore Programs Manager, TAFE Northern Sydney to ask her on the challenges faced with transnational education and strategies to strengthen your organisation’s international education opportunities.

What challenges are faced when attempting to strengthen key stakeholder relationships for international education?
Firstly there are external factors such as change in government policies impacting on cooperation and thus relationships. Another challenge to consider is the change of personnel. It takes time to build personal relationships which need rebuilding when personnel change on either party. Finally, a challenge organisations face with international education is overcoming the differing values, culture and languages barriers.


What are the risks associated with international education including Transnational Education?

One major risk is the ability to maintain the standards equivalent to Australia in a non-Australian environment. This is often a developing country where the culture and lifestyle are very different to Australia. Another risk includes not being able to ensure a relevance of programs that cater to local needs and those of the offshore students. Organisations must also be highly aware of the financial and legal risks heavily associated with TNE.


What three ways can ensure your organisation can stay both globally and locally competitive?

1.      Internationalisation of own organisation
2.      Customise, so you tailor programs to meet the client needs
3.      Genuine relationships with mutually shared goals so “a good fit” is established


How can quality assurance be enhanced in international education offerings?

Through strong, clearly defined, clearly communicated processes, quality assurance for both parties that caters to their needs can be achieved. Professional development and training is a necessity to enhance quality assurance and up skilling all staff involved in international education. This should also include administrative staff to ensure need for accuracy. Communication is vital both written and verbally, especially when faced with language barriers. Finally, quality assurance can also improve, so it is important to promote continuous improvement step by step.

To discover more strategies on how to optimise quality offshore learning, attend our upcoming Strengthening International Education Opportunities Conference next month.


As a tomboy child, Holly enjoyed watching wrestling and was The Rock’s biggest fan. She is from a tiny farming village in the north of England and has moved to Sydney to enjoy the city lifestyle. As a conference producer at Akolade, Holly enjoys researching with and learning from key professionals within a range of sectors to produce timely conferences. Furthermore, Holly enjoys how each day in the life of a conference producer is always different and exciting!


29 July 2015

Interview with Stephen Moore on all things workforce planning

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Workforce planning is one of the most significant challenges for companies across the country– large and small. It involves not only human resource factors, but how these factors tie in to overall strategic plans, financial and budget considerations, environmental issues and legislative requirements.
Without planning human resource needs and future talent requirements it is unlikely that organisations will effectively fulfill their future business plans and objectives.
I recently sat down Stephen Moore, Founding Director of Optimum Performance and the facilitator of our upcoming Workforce Planning & Resourcing Masterclass to discuss his background and all things workforce planning. Here’s what he had to say…
Luana: So Stephen, you’re a true HR industry veteran. What attracted you to the HR industry in the first place?
Stephen: My first job after university was as a management trainee with Trans Australia Airlines at Brisbane Airport where my initial posting was in the Personnel Department. It was here that I quickly realised that an effective HR Department touches just about every part of an organisation and that life is never dull or boring… a new (unexpected) challenge happens just about every day. I couldn’t have asked for more, 37 years later I remain proud of my profession and the contribution we make inside organisations.
Luana: 37 years wow! What are you most passionate about?
Stephen: Enabling HR professionals to embrace and thereafter utilise HR metrics, analytics and forecasting tools in order to continuously improve workforce management and performance in their organisations. As a result, transform HR Departments from working in the business to working on the business, the key that unlocks the door to the executive table.
Luana: How can HR professionals ensure that they are delivering the ‘right’ employees in a timely way in today’s fast paced working environment?
Stephen: Well I guess the first question to ask is what does right mean? Right skills? Right match? Right timing? Right number? Right outlay/expenditure? To me, all of these criteria are important, and all form an integral component of workforce labour demand planning.
By effectively forecasting future workforce job families, headcount & core competencies, HR Departments can develop effective resourcing strategies that deliver the right people, at the right time, in the right place too.
Luana: Right, effective forecasting is key. What is one thing that all HR professionals should know about workforce planning?
Stephen: That it is not simply one resourcing tool… far from it. When properly structured and executed, workforce planning enables organisations to effectively manage their annual labour costs, eliminate duplication and waste, procure people at least risk and cost to the business, and to pro-actively look out over the horizon in order to identify and address inherent structural and demographics issues before it is too late.
Luana: What should HR professionals be prioritising in 2015?
Stephen: In a climate of slowing economic growth and rising unemployment rates, I would suggest that astute HR professionals focus their attention on programs/strategies that enhance workforce productivity and utilisation and thereby reduced annual labour expenditure within their organisations before the bean-counters propose the short-term destructive path towards down-sizing and redundancies.
Luana: Stephen, thank you for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you and we look forward to hearing more insights from you at our upcoming Workforce Planning & Resourcing Masterclass.
From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!  
Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia.
Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

28 July 2015

Top 5 tips for NFP networking

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One of the most fulfilling elements of running an event is being able to witness new connections being made. In an age where online content is king and any article, webinar, blog, email address or LinkedIn contact is only a click away, the opportunity for face-to-face connection is more valuable than ever.

Across ever sector we work with at Akolade there is a certain buzz in the room when the first networking breaks begin, as the first cups of coffee are poured you can almost hear the ice breaking between delegates.  

The NFP sector in particular have a huge appetite for networking, with reforms such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), as well as the Senate inquiry’s such as on community service tendering processes. The NFP sector is undergoing significant change and need an outlet to share their experiences with peers.  As an industry, the NFP sector is consumed by providing quality services to the community, often operating on shoestring and under strict regulation. The opportunity to meet with like-minded NFP professionals and share wins, or even vent frustrations, is immeasurable.

Here are 5 tips on how to get the most out of networking at your next conference.

1.       Come prepared

Basics first, it’s important to always have your business cards at a conference, it’s much easier to collect business cards when you’re also handing them out. When preparing for a conference it’s useful to take a few moment to outline a few key objectives when entering a networking opportunity, what do you want to get out of the event? While you are sure to learn a lot from the presenters there could also be a specific issue you’d like advice on, ask yourself; what do I want to return to the office with some clarity on?

2.       Get out of your comfort zone

If you’re attending an event with a colleague it’s all too easy to spend the whole conference sitting, eating and ‘networking’ with the person you sit with every day in the office. This also applies if you’re attending alone, switch seats every day of the conference to meet new groups, or perhaps try eating lunch with someone new. 

3.       Connect with key speakers early

Think of the most inspirational speaker you’ve ever witnessed at a conference, I am sure in each scenario after their presentation the same thing has happened; they’ve been surrounded afterwards. This is inevitable, great speakers attract congratulations and plenty of questions. If there is a particular speaker you're interested in connecting with, it may be worthwhile to reach out to them before the conference thus creating a connection early and ensuring you’re at the top of their list to meet at the event.

4.       Get involved

At Akolade we aim for a minimum of 4 interactive sessions per conference, these are opportunities for delegates to ask the speakers as well as other attendees questions in a less formal structure. Getting involved in these interactive sessions is a great way to promote the great work your NFP is doing, or to bring the challenge you’re facing to the forefront.

5.       Keep the conversation going

Maintaining the connections you make at conference when you are back in the office can be challenging when the reality of a full inbox hits. Luckily technology is there to help, however the value of face-to-face connection can’t be overstated, make a time in your diary to meet with your new contact again.  

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field.

27 July 2015

Ride sharing: Why is Australia still stalling?

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"We know cities around the world are grappling with these changes and in particular, the introduction of new unregulated ride sharing apps. I have made it a priority to get to the bottom of these issues, no matter how complex," Andrew Constance, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

Most if not all of us are aware of ride sharing apps such as Uber, Backseat.me, Lyft, etc. These are app-based ride-sharing services where individuals use their own cars to drive passengers for a fee. It’s convenient as consumers can book a car using the app and then track the car’s progress. The passengers then also have the ability to give their driver a rating based on their experience and the performance of the driver. This is basically just a more formal way of the old fashioned way of carpooling. 

Not only is this app convenient but it also turns out to be a lot cheaper for us consumers. However taxi drivers are not happy with this new form of competition. A survey of 2000 Sydney residents from last year found that the people prefer to use Uber instead of a taxi because:
  • 75% of the respondents quoted the high expense of the taxi is off-putting
  • 15% said reliability was a major reason for avoiding traditional cabs

Despite consumers around the world embracing ride sharing, it is currently illegal in some states such as NSW, SA and QLD.

So why are these ride-sharing services an ‘issue’? Well the answer is quite simple, while consumers are enjoying this the cheap and convenient service, the state governments are missing out on millions of dollars in taxi licence fees whereas the federal government misses out on taxes, and not to mention the taxi industry loses its customers.

The state government has been taking ride-sharing seriously. For example, the NSW Transport Department has begun taking UberX drivers to court for breaking laws that require drivers and cars to be licensed. It has prosecuted 24 drivers and issued 193 warning notices. Whereas, Queensland has issued fines totalling more than $1.7 million in the past 12 months.

On the bright side, Uber has been receiving some political support as well recently. For example, NSW Greens party said in a recent media release that ride-sharing should be legalised and regulated. Also, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has publicly supported Uber and mentioned that he will introduce a bill to Parliament this year to regulate the fast-growing platform.

Earlier this month, transport Minister Andrew Constance announced that Gary Sturgess will head an independent taskforce and we will hear back from the government in October this year on their stance on ride sharing and recommendations on matters relating to competition in the taxi market, the impact of app-based ride-sharing and consumer safety.

Based on the fact that consumers have embraced the simplicity and convenience of ride sharing apps – I can safely say that ride sharing will be legalised – it’s just a matter of when and how? And lastly I wanted to finish off with a quote from Luke Foley which nicely sums up what the government should do: “It’s time for the government to get out of the slow lane and show real leadership when it comes to ride-sharing."

When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.         


24 July 2015

Key challenges for HR Practitioners - Investigations, compliance, and the Fair Work Commission

Author :

Being an HR Manager you need to be a little bit of everything. Understanding your legal obligations under the Fair Work Act can be confusing. Recent Fair Work decisions have shown that personal liability can be allocated to HR Managers under a variety of situations. 
Ensuring you are aware of your obligations, both to the organisation and yourself, to avoid the risk of personal liability makes sound business sense.  
Akolade recently caught up with Lisa Burrell, General Manager – Workplace Relations from the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) to discuss the key challenges businesses are facing for Claims reported to the Fair Work Commission
Claims in the Fair Work Commission is an issue many more HR Practitioners are having to grapple with.  What are the key challenges facing business?
Firstly, there is the increasing number of claims and a continuing need for business to balance the wishes of defending their case against the commercial realities of defending a claim. This is a difficult decision for many businesses as it often involves issues of principle for an organisation and can have consequences internally – culturally, decisions to settle can negatively impact on parties involved in the initial dismissal process, even when commercially it may be the correct call to settle a claim.
Secondly, as leave for lawyers and paid agents to represent employers is increasingly being refused in FWC and at times Federal Circuit Court, we are working with many HR practitioners who are not confident to self-represent and uncomfortable with  the uncertainty of a lawyer of paid agent who may be refused leave to appear on the day.  Unions and other associations such as VECCI are not required to seek leave to appear as a representative in the FWC, as they have automatic standing to appear.  Outside of this framework, HR Practitioners may be called upon to represent themselves and therefore a thorough understanding of the FWC processes is essential.
The discussion piece from the Fair Work Commission member will provide an invaluable insight into current matters being handled by the Commission, and will assist HR Practitioners in preparation and decision making in the handling of these claims.
Workplace Investigations are a common requirement in today’s workplace, what issues are you seeing arising from investigations?
We have seen a huge rise in requests for investigations by VECCI over the past 18 months.  Some of this undoubtedly coincides with the introduction of the anti-bullying legislation and employers undertaking additional risk mitigation.
With the increase in litigation and ever increasing avenues for workers to make complaints it is becoming increasingly necessary to ensure a thorough investigation is undertaken with any potential or perceived conflicts of interest managed and industrial and procedural requirements are met.  Failure to do so can (and often does) leave organisations and individual investigators at risk of public criticism and adverse findings against them.
Procedural deficiencies, including a failure to follow internal policies, or a failure to act promptly, are frequently derailing what may otherwise be deemed a ‘fair’ process.
Organisations need to assess promptly whether to conduct an investigation and if so whether there is a need to outsource it to an experienced external investigator.  The discussion at the conference will support HR practitioners in assessing many of these complex issues.
What do you see being the biggest HR issue for organisations in the next 12 months?  
HR is a growing and increasingly complex environment for all organisations regardless of size. The issues we are seeing frequently in the current environment for HR practitioners over the next 12 months are mental health and psychological injuries.
These types of issues are often being reported to HR practitioners during times of redundancies, performance management and investigations. There is an increased cost to organisations in relation to employees lodging workers compensations claims and taking personal leave in connection with mental health and or injuries.  Areas such as performance management are critical in most organisations and if undertaken properly can be effective for employees and organisations both in improving performance but also protecting employers and HR from claims.
Finally, workplace investigations are increasing throughout most organisations. It is critical that these are undertaken in a reasonable manner with emphasis placed on prevention and/or management of psychological injuries along with remedies for organisations to implement to mitigate the risk of psychological injuries.
With the increase in matters being pursued, do you see any common themes or concerns for HR practitioners?
HR is a complex area in the modern organisation. HR practitioners are finding it necessary to be across a range of constantly changing legislation and requirements which is not always practical. This can result in HR practitioner’s decisions being questioned and a requirement to defend their actions in FWC and or the Courts with individual and company penalties if they get it wrong.  
At times, Practitioners may be required to make decisions and undertake actions on behalf of the organisation without necessarily being aware of all the relevant legislative requirements or the latest case law which can be an overwhelming concern for many. In the last 2 months alone we have seen 2 cases where organisations were required to make payment of $170,000 – one for a HR Managers misinterpretation of the National Employment Standards initiated from a Parental Leave Policy, the other stemming from an incorrect interpretation of medical advice from a HR Manager regarding an employee’s capacity.  We are also seeing employers encounter a range of procedural difficulties within the current highly prescriptive process of enterprise agreement making and lodgement.
Australia has one of the highest levels of compliance requirements for employment and this seems unlikely to change, noting that the Productivity Commission review into workplace relations framework will be interesting in this regard. In the meantime, keeping up with legislative change is a must and VECCI is pleased to partner with Akolade in presenting their 9th Workplace Law Fundamentals Roadshow that is happening in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane next month.
Lisa Burrell is the General Manager of Workplace Relations at the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI). Lisa manages a team of over 20 Workplace Relations professionals, who are responsible for providing VECCI services to both members and non-members including general advice, training and one-one consultancy and advocacy services across a range of HR and IR issues.
Lisa’s background includes work in a number of diverse employee relations roles having previously worked in public transport, tourism, state government and ASX listed companies, prior to joining VECCI in 2009.  Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts (Health and Behavioural Science) from the University of Wollongong as well as recently completing post graduate qualifications in Law (Workplace and Employment Law) from Monash University.


23 July 2015

26 Ideas for killer social media posts

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It’s all about creating punchy titles and producing brilliant content that will stand out against the rest of the chaos people see on their social media home page. But let’s be honest: when your objective is to post stuff two to three times a day, chances are you’ll start running out of inspiration quickly.
Not to worry; we’ve got your back. Along with Forbes, we will bring you a list of 26 ideas that you can refer to when you have writer’s black and need help in producing killer social media content.

1.       Ask a question. Expect an answer.

2.       Quotes. Everyone loves a little humour, inspiration or motivation

3.       Behind the scenes. Meg Rayner from the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board told me that photos of firefighters and trucks are always their winning posts.

4.       Infographics. Pretty colours and impressive stats: what’s not to like?

5.       Open the vaults. Bring out the Evergreen and pull out an old post.

6.       Fill in the ____. If I were Prime Minister of Australia for a day, I would ____.

7.       Spread the love. Share a post from another organisation that your audience might like.

8.       Link to a controversial post. Hey, it’s up to you but sparking a debate is a pretty good way of hiking engagement.

9.       Post a video. We have entered the age of multimedia. Ride the wave.

10.   Ask for testimonials. People like to vent, but they also like to share inspirational stories. You’ll probably get a happy mix. Testimonials might even give you ideas for future post topics.

11.   Start a contest. Set up a little friendly competition, offer a prize, ask for tweets/shares/photos. The State Library NSW showed all of us how well this could work when they started #DigitiseMySuburb.

12.   Share a tip. Who doesn’t want to make their life easier?

13.   Ask for advice. You might be happy to receive tips as well!

14.   Listicles. If you’re reading this, then it proves my point.

15.   Hold a photo contest. It will also give you a chance to put a face on your public.

16.   Share news. People are already talking about it, so jump into the conversation.

17.   2 truths and a lie. Let your fans guess and then knock ‘em out with a crazy statistic.

18.   Profile a member of your team. Offer a few minutes of fame to a member of your team who deserves it and show your audience that your organisation isn’t run by robots.

19.   Celebrate an odd holiday. If you look at all of the official and ridiculous ‘days’ out there, you’d have something for every day of the year practically.

20.   Share company news. Again, what your audience loves the most is to stay in the loop.

21.   Series of post. Publish a series of similar posts during a certain number of days, a little like what HONY does at times. If you do it well enough, your public will stay hooked and won’t be able to resist coming back for more. 

22.   Employee guest posts. One of the best ways of keeping up your social media presence is by encouraging your colleagues to post as well.

23.   Spotlight a cause. Invite your followers to like a cause that you believe in/contribute to.

24.   Ask your audience for content ideas. Let them do the legwork.

25.   Tell a story. Storytelling is the best way to engage your community anyway.

And when all else fails:

26.   Cats, babies, food. I doubt an uber serious government department would do this, but who isn’t a sucker for cute kittens
Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!

22 July 2015

Is online learning right for you?

Author :

The Chisholm Institute of TAFE has shared some great insights from the General Manager of Chisholm Online, Theo Teeder. Theo looks at the intricacies of online modes of learning, sharing his top tips on how to decide if online learning is right for you or your employees.

What does an online learning world look like for you?

Online is an overused word in the world of education – it gets used to describe everything from MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) through to correspondence courses which have their DNA back in the early 1990s. Then there is everything in between, including highly-templated courses through to high-end, high-impact game based models of learning.

This is confusing and must be difficult for a potential student or industry client to comprehend if they haven’t either
a) grown up in the industry or b) conducted a significant amount of purchaser diligence. So, for those who don’t meet either a) or b) of the above here are a few tips to consider when looking at Online (that word again!) courses:

1. Is the organisation offering the course the same as the one who actually delivers the training?

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same but I’d want to know who the training partner behind the brochure is. That way, I know where my real time is going to be spent and with whom.

2. What does the training partner promote first?

If it is study now, pay later then fine, but what about the outcomes? (Personally I’m more interested in the effort/reward relationship of study and the opportunities that come out of this rather than whether I can add to my debt pile.)

3. What is the student experience like?

Can I talk to an existing student and/or online teacher? If not, how many complete the course/qualification? If it’s low, why?

Once these areas are understood the decision between course types, online vs other types of study, becomes that bit clearer: know what questions to ask and the decisions should in theory become easier to make.

For our own business – Chisholm Online – we’ve taken the view that the learning content and support are key ingredients for a good student experience. Likewise, the high impact learning often comes from the students’ online tutor. That’s why we spend a lot of time on each part – recruiting the best available tutors and making sure that students’ get the level of support they need within a structured and open learning environment.

Thank you to Theo for sharing his insights, for more information check out chisholmonline.edu.au

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field.