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Five on Friday: Corporate education

Five on Friday: Corporate education

Welcome to Five on Friday, a round-up of news and views from the education world this week. We take a look at corporate education: the end of financial year is upon us and a lot of employees and employers are looking to enrol in courses to spend training budgets and secure an immediate tax deduction benefit.

1. Changes to tax deductibility of self-education expenses
The Federal Government's recent Budget stated that the rules for claiming self-education expenses would change from July 1, 2014. From then, individual taxpayers may only claim up to $2,000 in self-education, which might cover a conference but won't go very far towards an MBA. We say enrol now or hit up your employer for training.

2. Corporate education is no longer the joke it once was
Remember the days when you said you were doing a course for work and everyone just took it as you having a couple of days away from the office eating pastries at morning tea rather than a chance for you to bring back something valuable for them (other than pastries)?

Things have changed since then, writes Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur, who may just have the best name of any academic I've ever encountered. In his article 'Moving from laughingstock to saving grace', he writes on how businesses can get the best from their staff when they go off to learn new things, and how to measure the benefits.

3. Telling stories
Is it just me, or has everyone turned to storytelling as the next big thing? Storytelling was the theme of the recent Sydney Writers' Festival, Vivid Sydney ran a few events on storytelling during its Ideas program and 'Storyology' is the focus of the Walkley Media Conference to be held later this year.

BRW magazine last month published an article on 'Storytelling as a strategy' that I thought was quite interesting (it's behind a paywall, so if you're not a subscriber you can sign up for a free trial to read it). As long as it's teaching executives to tell stories and not porkies I'm okay with the approach. Makes for more interesting work presentations, that's for sure.

4. Need coffee, stat!
It's a common call at many a workplace around the nation: "Going for coffee, does anyone want one?" Maybe you have a coffee machine at work. Maybe you have a barista at work (lucky you). Maybe you are a barista. I read this New York Times article 'This is your brain on coffee' on the benefits of coffee on mental agility and longevity and thought about our ongoing love affair with the brewed beverage, especially at work, and wondered if we'd ever conclusively established whether coffee boosts productivity.

According to this Harvard Business Review article it doesn't, but doing work-related things during your break does. Since no one is going to be able to stop the coffee break, perhaps businesses could make it a chance to boost corporate learning? Apparently helping a coworker is one activity that boosts productivity. Tell your boss you're co-working over coffee.

5. People skills
Have you ever found it difficult to explain exactly what it is you do at work and why? A classic scene from the movie 'Office Space' on how having to justify your role might not be the best premise for showing your best side.

Have a good long* weekend!

* Except WA, which will surely just have a good normal-sized weekend.

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