Page 5: People and skills
The intellect and creativity of people are at the heart of the knowledge-driven revolution with a growth of service sector knowledge intensive businesses. Within all sectors workers have to be more highly educated and more must be able to work with customers as part of their daily work as well as participate in teamwork.
People today are also required to work flexibly across a range of job roles as organisations become flatter with fewer layers of management. As the pace of change quickens individuals will have more independence to manage themselves and their own activities with a growth of opportunities.
Clusters and networks
If organisations locate within a cluster of other firms they are able to share expertise and knowledge. Social interaction and informal links have helped many organisations to be successful in areas such as Silicon Valley and the City of London.
The benefit of such interaction and links is located within the accessing of tacit knowledge which, without these links or interaction, would remain with those who have it. Some organisations may wish to set up networks to draw in the expertise within other organisations through inter-firm co-operation in supply chains, sharing financial risks, mentoring or benchmarking best practice. All of this helps organisations to learn from each other and contribute to improving standards and the way business is undertaken.
The original impetus for the location of the chemicals industry around the Tees was based on access to raw materials and customers and a supportive infrastructure. The industry however recognised it could further exploit the advantages of co-location and formed the Teesside Chemical Initiatives in 1995. This is an industry-led body, but with DTI and other public sector agencies it works closely in partnership to:
- facilitate collaboration in areas such as maintenance, waste treatment, education and training programmes and community development
- monitor manpower requirements and technical capability
- act as a focus for new investment
- identify weaknesses in local infrastructure.
Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Water Treatment Limited
Following a successful collaboration in a LINK project with the University of Huddersfield, Ciba Specialty Chemicals continued its relationship by jointly participating in a Teaching Company Scheme (TCS) Programme. The business employs around 1,700 people in Bradford but recognised the need to gain access to the knowledge and skills of the University if it was to design and construct a prototype production plant. The aim was to produce a pilot scale ammonium acrylate from acrylonitrile or acrylamide, allowing full evaluation of the process and providing data for the design of full-scale production.
Dr Ken Symes, Ciba’s senior representative in the TCS Programme, said, ‘By working with the University we were able to complete a techno-economic feasibility study for full-scale production. The new bioprocess has the potential to result in a cleaner technology for the manufacture of a new intermediate; the quality of the new intermediate is also said to be higher and could be used in a wider range of products. It could also help to improve the competitiveness of the business.’