In a frank speech at HRD 2000, Secretary of State for Education and Employment warned of some of the dangers inherent in the current rush to embrace technology and new HR practices.
Disarmingly, he admitted that government was often amongst the worst examples of good practice: "We talk a good story, but don't carry it through ourselves" he admitted. Referring to the introduction of a new HR language, he "preferred Personnel Management to Human Resource Management as 'resource' still sounds too much like 'exhaust' with all of its connotations."
Blunkett outlined four main areas where government is active in closing the productivity gap facing many companies:
- an online business email forum is being launched to promote dialogue between SMEs and government, and to share information;
- the new Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership;
- the 100% capital allowance on new technology for small businesses, announced in the budget; and
- the creation of 700 Learning Centres by the end of 2001, and the IT skills training for unemployed people.
In addition, the Individual Learning Accounts programme will significantly increase each individual's sense of responsibility for their own learning and development.
Warning of some of the dangers that lie ahead, Blunkett warned of the misuse of new technology. Administrative staff can be de-skilled as managers endeavour to learn keyboard skills without becoming proficient at it. Email proliferation is replacing some more effective management techniques. Such problems can work to hinder the development of greater workplace productivity.