Thursday, 23 December 2010

Advice on learning and work:

what is a disadvantage, and how do you overcome it?

The government's plans for a universal careers service for adults address the needs of people across more than one spectrum.

They aim to help the highly qualified and educated as well those with minimal or perhaps no qualifications – and all in between.

They aim to help old and young adults and all between, and achieve continuity with careers advice services for young people.

They aim to help those active and only slightly underachieving in the labour market as well as those who start far from it, perhaps having spent a long period out of work or never having worked – and all between.

They aim to offer the same service to people with physical, psychological or socio-economic difficulties as to those without them.

Thus the introduction to an article by Ruth Hawthorn and Judy Alloway in Career Research and Development: the NICEC Journal Number 22 (Winter 2009/2010).

Hazel’s comment:
Is it really possible for one service to provide all that?
If it's “watered down” for those with minimal education will the service be appropriate for the more highly educated?
Will every adviser need to be a specialist on “physical, psychological or socio-economic difficulties”?

Hazel's further comment:
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that one of the principal journals in the field of career research is so spasmodically available to researchers in the British Library. Number 23 is showing in the catalogue but is not yet available to be read by the likes of you and me.

Reference Anxiety Disorder

is, Gary Archer from Solihull Libraries writing in Refer Volume 26 Number 2 (Summer 2010) tells us (based on the article referenced below):
    the feeling an information specialist experiences when s/he can’t find the information they’re seeking
I'm not a reference librarian nor do I consider myself an information specialist except in the field of careers information (and since Opportunity has not been published for some years I'm even a bit out of touch with that field) but most have had their impossible questions – “ what does a shoemaker earn?” springs to mind.

Have you, as a careers information practitioner, had the impossible questions?
How do you deal with them?

It may be that Adam Bennington's article A practical Guide to Reference Anxiety Disorder will help you (but it will cost you $2.95) – and maybe, just maybe, asking me to look both online and in the British Library will bring you the peace of mind you need!

Do not say sorry!

I read recently that bloggers should not apologise for breaks in blogging activity – it implies that blogging is not as important as other activities in your life. So, no apologies whatsoever from me! New Day Resolution made, and will be adhered to, that all interesting things I read will be blogged immediately and not, as previously, emailed to a draft and left to languish (brain seemed to register job done and moved on to the next bit of reading). This may, of course, mean that on the Thursdays that I spend in the British Library you could get more than one or two postings, likewise when I pick up on the Emerald journals list which comes in on a Monday morning.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Estimating the life-time cost of NEET:

16-18-year-olds not in education, employment or training

Research undertaken by the University of York for the Audit Commission estimates the life-time costs of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) between 16 and 18 years of age, based on estimates of the size of the NEET group in 2008.

This updates research published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2002 and includes estimates of the size of the NEET group and its various sub-groups as well as some costed case studies to represent the diversity of young people within the NEET cohort including:
  • young people with special educational needs or disabilities;
  • teenage parents;
  • young carers;
  • young offenders;
  • a female care leaver;
  • male care leavers; and
  • young people benefiting from pre-16 interventions.
The study uses the case studies to show the cost of preventative work and the impact this has on outcomes at the ages of 16-18 and beyond and provides guidance to help local authorities understand the cost of young people being NEET.

Read the full report (PDF 55pp) here

With grateful thanks to Skills Development Scotland for alerting me to this report.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Oh those PDFs

Not that I have anything against portable document format per se – it’s just that I find reading 108 pages of a journal online is about 100 pages too many! There does not appear to be a print edition of the International Journal of Labour Research from the International Labour Organization (ILO). At least, if there is, it isn’t in the British Library's catalogue. I suppose, since it’s only published twice a year I could cope but for now I have simply glanced through the content list of last year’s two issues (nothing with this year’s date on as yet) and there’s nothing outstanding.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

What the heck is work anyway?

Sometimes it takes a while for someone to write something in the blogosphere, others to read it and some to include a reference to it in their own blog and so on.

The thread on the definition of work took over a month to reach me (via It makes for an interesting read – particularly when you realise that one of the formal definitions of work includes the word work in its definition.

Compulsion, money, activity (as opposed to rest), results oriented (but so is my knitting and that’s not work as I understand it). So, if we can’t define work adequately maybe we can manage to say what its opposite is.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Training and Progression in the Labour Market

Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 680

Authors: Sin Yi Cheung and Stephen McKay (College of Social Service, University of Birmingham)


Who receives training?
This report concerns the training that people receive while in work, or in anticipation of working in the future, and the effects it has on people’s careers. This is training received after the end of education (in most cases). There is a great variety of activities that count as training, and in the statistical analysis we consider how far kinds of training are associated with different outcomes (hourly wages, in particular.

Data and Methods
We draw on three datasets for this study: the Labour Force Surveys (LFS) 1994 to 2008; the Families and Children Study (FACS); and the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). A range of descriptive statistics were employed to chart the trends over time. Binary logic regression, ordinary least square (OLS) linear regression, and fixed effects models were used to estimate the effects of training over and above those accounted for by individual traits.
In 2008, training was most commonly received by:
  • younger people;

  • women;

  • those working in the public sector (especially in local government, health or the armed forces), or working for non-profit organisations;

  • those working in larger organisations;

  • those with higher qualifications;

  • higher earners (those in the top quintile of earners); and

  • those relatively new to the job (training to aid induction.

Trends in training 1994-2008
The proportion of workers aged 16-69 [1] in training rose from about 20 per cent in 1994 to reach a high of around 28 per cent in 2003. This trend has been flat or on the decline since then, and particularly from 2005 onwards. Both the LFS and BHPS show this downward trend in the last few years. Training is also seasonal to some extent, with a lower proportion of the workforce in the third quarter (reflecting, perhaps, less training over the summer months).
This recent downward trend is found amoung virtually all groups. An important exception is older workers, aged 50 or older, who continue to enjoy increasing rates of training provision.

Changes in wages and training, longitudinal description
Hourly wages rates grew by 4.4 per cent between the 2006 and 2007 BHPS interviews, for those respondents working at both waves of interviews. They grew by five per cent where a respondent had received some training, and by four per cent otherwise. The rate of growth was higher where training was received, irrespective of the level of wages in 2006.
The highest increases in hourly earnings between 2006 and 2007 were achieved by young people, those aged between 16 and 34, and especially those at the younger half of this range.
For most age groups, except those under age 20, the rate of wage increase was raised if they had undergone a period of training.
Those who received training, compared to those who had not, showed greater variability in job satisfaction. That is, where a person had received training, they were both more likely to report an increase in job satisfaction, and more likely to report decreased job satisfaction. By contrast, there was greater stability in the reported levels of job satisfaction among those who did not receive training.

Changes in wages and training, longitudinal modelling 1998-2007
We look at the link between higher wages and having undertaken a spell of training in the recent past. This is based on data that tracks people over time. We first use models that control for a wide range of different background information. We then turn to look at statistical models that control for the unmeasured characteristics of people.
In standard linear regression models, the wage gain (measured by an increase in hourly earnings) to training (where received in the past year) were four per cent for men, and closer to two per cent for women. Modelling the median returns to training by quantile regression, rather than looking at the mean returns to training using the standard approach, produced quite similar results.
When we do not control for differences in individual traits (age, marital status, occupation) the increases in wages associated with past training appear to be much larger. This implies that what might appear to be the effect of training on wages is often largely due to differences in individual traits. Hence, it is important to control for these differences to isolate the specific effect of training on wage progression.
The current ‘state of the art’ within econometrics recommends the application of fixed-effect models to investigate the effect of training on wage returns. The purpose of these models is essentially to use individuals as their own control group in looking at changes in earnings and training. This provides a better estimate of the contribution of training to wage growth, as it controls for unobserved characteristics of individuals.
The estimated effect of training on wages is much reduced in these fixed-effects models. Training is then associated with an increase in wages of about 0.5 per cent, measured over the period from 1998-2007 [2]. However, where the training received was explicitly employer-funded or employer-provided, the size of gain was closer to two per cent.
If we adopt the recent suggestion in the econometric literature and restrict the analysis to only those who anticipated receiving training, the effects of training on wage progression can become statistically insignificant. This is a less tried and tested approach than the above statistical models.
Training does, however, seem to be strongly linked to labour market transitions – that is, undergoing a period of training seems to increase the rate of returning to work, and decreases the likelihood of job exit.

Limitations of the study
One of the difficulties in comparing findings across studies is the different measures and definitions used. They can be different even within the same study such as this one. We rely on existing data sets to provide detailed information on the duration, nature and type of training. The LFS essentially merges training with some aspects of education, while the BHPS does better at keeping them distinct. The degree of detail available in these data sets is also different.

1 We used ages 16-69 for most of this report. This takes advantage of the wider group of people to whom the questions were asked, not just those of pre-pension age, and permits some analysis of the increasing proportion of people who work after the age of 65. See Section 2.1.1 for further discussion of this selection.

2 In the BHPS, which we use for longitudinal analysis, training is measured by the question that mentions ‘training schemes or courses… or completed a course of training which led to a qualification’.

The impact of 14-19 reforms on the career guidance profession in England:

final report

Authors: Helen Colley, Cathy Lewin and Charlotte Chadderton

Published by: Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University

Full text (12pp) is available from Derby University

Hazel’s comment
To use a cliché – “it does what it says on the tin”. However, despite spending more than my usual “five minutes and give up” on trying to find an abstract I failed – miserably! And long-term readers are well aware of my aversion to writing a précis (actually it’s an ingrained belief in my inability to do so).

Sunday, 17 October 2010

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Emerging from deep prehistory, humans muscled their way up the food chain, with everything on the menu - including ourselves... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In the 17th century, handfuls of men using small boats, scaling ladders, and sheer nerve made piracy a profitable line of work. Not unlike the 21st century... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Acronyms are less innocent than they look: fluid, prone to lurches in meaning, they are weapons, in fact looser cannons than most... part 1 ... part 2

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
There is an exhilaration and joy to secure direct observational proof of a scientific theory. The history of astronomy is full of such moments... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
"Learning styles", they call it. Some students are visual learners, others auditory, or kinesthetic. The idea is, alas, largely bunkum... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Albert Camus ought to be buried in the Panthéon, with other great minds of France. But it looks like it is not going to happen... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
"You know people have tried to put me off as being crazy." Thelonious Monk was only too willing to use the notion to his advantage... more

On the Civility of Children’s Conduct by Erasmus (1530)
The great classical scholar of the Northern Renaissance, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, also had some thoughts about proper behavior. Teach manners early, Erasmus believed. To that end, he produced a small book addressed to children. It admirably commanded the attention of his young audience and remained popular for three centuries. “To lick greasy fingers or to wipe them on your coat is impolite. It is better to use the table cloth, ” he counsels. Also: “It is not seemly, after wiping your nose, to spread out your handkerchief and peer into it as if pearls and rubies might have fallen out of your head.” He returns repeatedly to the era’'s apparently vexing problem of the gaseous bellows: “Retain your wind by compressing the belly” and “Do not move back and forth on your chair. Whoever does that gives the impression of constantly breaking or trying to break wind.” If attempts at restraint fail, he advises, then do what you must but “cough loudly” to cover the sound.
Having picked this up from I can’t remember where I tried to acknowledge the source – found a 16-page article reprinted by UNESCO here. Hazel

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Lew Wallace, General in the Civil War, a man Billy the Kid wanted to kill, wrote a favourite 19th-century novel, made into a 20th-century movie: Ben-Hur... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
"Earth is the cradle of mankind, but one does not stay in the cradle forever." Space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovskii had a vision... more

Career Guidance Today

It is not helpful to get a copy of the above publication and read in the editorial “we know that come August and September” when we're already at the middle of October. I know there has to be delay in publications going through the cataloguing and shelving process at the British Library but it seems that some publishers are more tardy than others at discharging their legal deposit responsibilities.

Why is there a lack of central funding for ...

enterprise education at Further Education Colleges?

an article by Brian Hardy (Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 15 Number 3 (September 2010)

This paper reviews the reasons behind the absence of central-government funding for enterprise and innovation at further education colleges (FECs). Enterprise and innovation are, according to conventional wisdom, crucial in rebuilding the UK’s economy and providing jobs. In pursuit of this, the government has provided central funding for enterprise promotion and education for both universities and secondary schools, but not for FECs. The review starts by looking at recent government policy papers on enterprise and innovation, then briefly considers the current economic characteristics that lay behind the need for enterprise education and innovation. The efficacy of the current proposals is questioned, looking at the concepts concerning the type and level of intelligence entrepreneurs need, also touching on what types of innovations can be expected to increase employment. The paper concludes by asking if élitist or class bias plays a part in the exclusion of vocational education & training students at FECs from central funding for innovation and enterprise.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Opening Your Doors to Young People:

practical guidelines for making advice services young person-friendly

Just been reading in Adviser (Number 141 September-October 2010) that young people are one of the least likely groups in society to find their way to an advice centre when they have a social welfare problem. To try to overcome this problem Youth Access, the youth advice and counselling network, has launched these new guidelines which are endorsed by Citizens Advice, AdviceUK and the Law Centres Federation.

The guidelines (PDF 24pp) were very slow to load when I tried – I’ve not actually read them!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Facebook lowers exam results

You may have seen headlines such as this about a month ago based on research done by Paul Kirschner and Aryn Karpinski reported in Computers in Human Behavior Volume 26 Issue 6 (November 2010).

The abstract of the article (Facebook and Academic Performance) says: “There is much talk of a change in modern youth – often referred to as digital natives or Homo Zappiens – with respect to their ability to simultaneously process multiple channels of information. In other words, kids today can multitask. Unfortunately for proponents of this position, there is much empirical documentation concerning the negative effects of attempting to simultaneously process different streams of information showing that such behaviour leads to both increased study time to achieve learning parity and an increase in mistakes while processing information than those who are sequentially or serially processing that same information. This article presents the preliminary results of a descriptive and exploratory survey study involving Facebook use, often carried out simultaneously with other study activities, and its relation to academic performance as measured by self-reported Grade Point Average (GPA) and hours spent studying per week. Results show that Facebook® users reported having lower GPAs and spend fewer hours per week studying than nonusers.”

So, it’s not Facebook that is to the villain of the piece but the attempt of people (students in this study) to do more than one thing at a time using the same part of the brain. The results of this endeavour are evidenced in essays quoting Martin Luther King having problems with Pope Leo X and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
It is, of course, perfectly possible, as the researchers not, to walk along the street, chew gum and listen to music “though even this sometimes leads to walking into street lamps or falling off curbs”.
Task switching, which is what these student are doing, is an art which has been perfected by parents (mainly mothers) so that they can simultaneously be cooking the dinner and be aware of what the child(ren) are up to in another room. Switching from stirring the sauce to shouting at the kids and back again is inbuilt and can occur with split second precision but it is not multitasking.

If you can get hold of a copy of the article it is really worth reading (I’ve just finished it) – particularly if you are a parent faced with “Of course I can be texting, watching YouTube and doing my algebra homework at the same time”.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The mediating roles of career self-efficacy ...

and career decidedness in the relationship between contextual support and persistence

an article by Simon Lloyd D Restubog and Patrick Raymund James M Garcia (The Australian national University) and Afryll R Florentino (The University of New South Wales) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 77 Issue 2 (October 2010)

Drawing from Social cognitive career theory, we examined how types of contextual support (e.g., parental support and number of career counselling sessions received) influence persistence. In addition, we test the roles of career self-efficacy and career decidedness as mediating mechanisms in the relationship between these types of contextual support and persistence. One hundred forty-six undergraduate students were surveyed over three measurement periods. Data were collected from multiple sources: surveys from students and parents and students’ archival data. Results provided support for our hypothesised mediated model. Time 1 student and parent ratings of support and Time 1 number of counselling sessions received were related to greater Time 2 career self-efficacy and Time 2 career decidedness. This in turn was associated with Time 3 persistence (i.e., reduced academic programme turnover). Theoretical and applied implications are discussed.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Defying Extinction: ...

the revival of the strike in UK employment relations

an article by Alan Tuckman (Nottingham Trent University) published in WorkingUSA Volume13 Issue 3 (September 2010)

It could be argued that, as in many Western countries, there is the disappearance of the strike in increasingly mature employment relations. At a political level, the election of a coalition Conservative–Liberal Democrat government might enhance this image of growing consensus. However, challenging the features that might account for the decline of the strike, a number of current disputes in the UK are examined. Particular attention is given to the strike and long-term conflicts at British Airways (BA). The strike by the BA cabin crew indicates the perseverance of traditional employment relations in privatised industry. It also indicates the use of the legal system by employers to frustrate the workers and trade unions’ right to take strike action through implementation of draconian rule. Conclusions are indicated on the possibility of UK workers and trade unions taking militant action against public sector cuts similar to that already taken in Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Lifelong learning across cultures: ...

an examination of learning provision for a particularly disadvantaged group

by James Ogunleye published in International Journal of Intercultural Information Management Volume 2 Number 2 (2010)

This paper examines adult learning in the context of the European Union lifelong learning policy agenda, an agenda that places an emphasis on promoting social inclusion and strengthening community cohesion and inclusive citizenship. The paper examines the policy context of lifelong learning at European level and the extent to which it feeds into policy framework at the national level. The paper also examines lifelong learning provision – programmes or courses – for adult learners with long-term mental illness, defined in this context as people who have been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and who are unemployed.
The work reported in this paper is based on the documentary/content analyses of the European Union’s policy papers including heads of states and governments/council of ministers’ communiques on lifelong learning and on the review of literature on lifelong learning courses and programmes across Europe – with specific reference to eight European countries where the EMILIA project has demonstration sites.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Growing pains: population and sustainability in the UK

a publication from Forum for the Future to which I was pointed by Skills Development Scotland

Executive summary
Population as a discussion topic is off-limits for most UK politicians, in a way that plays into the hands of illiberal and xenophobic organisations.
But it should be possible to have an intelligent and sensitive debate about one of the most important issues of our time. This paper, the result of research and many conversations, is our attempt to stimulate such a debate about population in the UK and beyond, and to present the issue of population growth as essentially linked to the goal of sustainable development.
The UK population is projected to grow at its fastest rate since the post-war “baby boom”, increasing from 61.4 million now to 70.6 million in 2030. According to the projections, growth will be driven in part through natural change – more people being born than dying – and also through net inward migration – more people arriving in the UK than leaving.
The growth will be uneven across the country, with faster rates in central and southern England and slower rates in northern England and Scotland. This makes the UK part of the coming global increase in population, albeit at a lower rate of growth: in the time it takes the UK to increase in population by 16%, countries in sub-Saharan Africa will grow by over 50%.

Growth in the UK population will have wide-ranging impacts
There are both costs and benefits. A further 9 million people by 2030 will increase pressures on public services, infrastructure and the natural environment, requiring thorough long-term planning. The pressure will be worse in certain areas, depending on where people choose to live.
On the other hand, population growth increases the number of economically active people and can help the UK continue to be a vibrant, multicultural society.
Ultimately however, it is impossible to see how population growth – globally or in the UK – can continue forever. Social and economic models that rely on this cycle are doomed to fail eventually and so, at some point, we will have to come up with alternative models.
In this paper, we don’t go so far as to suggest what that alternative model is, but from our exploration of the topic it became clear that there were several benefits to considering population growth through the prism of sustainability. We try to show the points of leverage for a sustainable approach to population. Using the I=PxAxT equation first developed by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren – in which impact “I” is a factor of population “P”, affluence “A”and technology “T” – we show that efficiency of systems must be increased through deployment of new technologies and better, more integrated planning; consumption must be reduced by focusing on well-being and quality of life; and population growth can be constrained, primarily through more effective family planning.
We found no argument that doing all of this would be anything but difficult. But we were able to distil from our research and our discussions seven suggestions on how to start this shift. They are:
  1. Plan for what’s coming
    All major public infrastructure bodies and service providers should carry out detailed planning for the impacts of continued population growth.
  2. Use what we have more efficiently
    Many of the things we need to do to live more sustainably in the UK, such as using energy and water more efficiently, also help us to accommodate rising numbers of people.
  3. Rethink “growth”
    We need urgently to develop new ways of evaluating the success of our economy that point towards increasing human well-being and quality of life.
  4. Develop new attitudes to ageing
    We should value the contribution that older people can make to society, and adopt a more flexible approach to family, work and education throughout people’s lives.
  5. Enhance family planning
    We can improve targeted education and make contraception more easily available in the UK and globally.
  6. Hold an objective discussion on immigration
    We need to understand the value immigration makes to the UK economy at the same time as seeing it in a global context.
  7. Have an open and sensible debate
    We need policy-makers to address population head-on, not ignore it because it is too controversial.
Hazel’s comment
Converting that from PDF into Word and then removing all the formatting code that remains, even
after saving as text only, felt like a marathon!
I hope you think the end result was worth it.
Read the whole thing (20pp PDF) at

Even the pound shops are closing down

via Blogs - New Start Magazine Online by Neil McInroy

This article is provided courtesy of the blogs feed at

Economic thinking and economic development are chronically poor in considering specific local places and the social and environmental challenges they face.

We knew this before the recession, but now its becoming much more serious. This was clear to me last week when an experienced local council official said to me: “Neil, it’s grim out there, it’s as bad as I have seen it. Even the pound shops are closing down”.

The “even” in the above statement reveals the economic place story behind these closures. The local service economy and its febrile relationship to what local people need had reached the end game. It was bad before the recession, but now the last vestiges and rump of consumer demand for those bargains is insufficient to warrant the pound shop.

The economy of that place, buoyed up by public sector largesse, property boom, financial services and credit, was self-serving not place serving. It’s now spiralled downwards and collapsed. Place and social life is now left to pick up the pieces of empty shops and decay.

Long before we had pound shops, “bond vigilantes”, or casino capitalism, or even economic textbooks, we had economic thinking which did not make the artificial distinction between the “economy”, “place” and “society”. The 18th century enlightenment and its flourishing and fusion of arts, science, technology and government, produced thinkers such as Adam Smith, who, while acclaimed as one of the first economists, was actually just a plain old philosopher, trying to understand the world from 18th century Edinburgh, unpicking the moral obligations and ties around places, people, traders and markets.

Adam Smith would no doubt have thought it ridiculous and absurd, to attempt to understand a local economy or markets without firstly thinking about people, morality and society more generally.

So, fast forward 300 years. An economic crisis – and still economics and economic development are a world of abstract modelling, numbers, or understood through mathematical charts. It’s a world where BBC commissioned research, say Mansfield and Burnley [and lots of other places too], lacks resilience, because the (economic) data tells us so! This is conducted without any consideration of the entrepreneurial energy and untapped human capital, which abounds in these and in every other place.

We need an enlightenment for the 21st century. A new economic literacy, which rejects this half-cocked thinking and one-sided understanding.

Of course, traditional economic development activities like inward investment etc are important, but so is the essence of place, the people, social capital assets and local demand. We need economic development thinking which understands, cares for and serves the place and the people.

Hazel’s comment:
Common sense. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of it about these days.

Carers Credit

Carers Credit, the National Insurance Credit which has been available since April this year, is not being claimed by over a quarter of a million people who could claim the benefit.
Carers Credit is for working age people who are looking after one or more disabled people for 20 or more hours a week. The money is not a cash benefit – it is a credit that will help carers to protect their future State Pension entitlement when they are not working or when their earnings are low. To be eligible for the Carers Credit, the person or people being cared for must either, be receiving an appropriate disability benefit or a certificate must be supplied which has been certified by a Health or Social Care professional and confirms the level of care that is provided is required.
The figures given by Directgov this month advise that there are currently fewer than 1,000 people getting this Credit.
If you think you can claim this Credit or know someone who also may be entitled call either 0845 608 4321 (Caring for Someone Section of Directgov) or call your local carers UK branch.

Thanks to Angela Gifford of Able Community Care.

0 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Please note that, due to the vagaries of wireless and people severing cables causing parts of Hemel Hempstead to be without both telephone and Internet, this trivia post is not the weekend just gone but the one before!

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
History of cities: Londoners have long been willing to live in filth. Orientals wasted time building sanitation systems and bathing, but Brits preferred making money... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A bogus history of Afghanistan is not a good foundation for making policy to deal with the country's problems, says Christian Caryl... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The subatomic world is the perfect arena for imaginative theory and sheer fantasy. Jeremy Bernstein is a man who knows the difference... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
As Twilight shows, not all that girls like is good art – or good feminism. But the backlash against Twilight should matter to feminists, even as they shudder... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate “It is a truth universally acknowledged...” tells us something about Jane Austen’s temper and her times. Her world was one where there really was universal truth... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Saddam Hussein drained the wetlands of southern Iraq to punish the Marsh Arabs. Now a courageous U.S. Iraqi wants to restore the marshes... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Women in the 20th century moved toward more autonomy, self-confidence, skills, and income, with many individuals caught in the confusion... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Only the peer reviewed need apply. Once upon a time, "peer reviewed" meant that research was validly arrived at, not fabricated. Today it often means hewing to the party line... more

Friday Fun: Go Retro with Pacman via the How-To Geek by Mysticgeek
If you are old as I am you remember how exciting it was when Pacman was introduced and the ensuing frenzy that accompanied it. Today for Friday Fun we take a trip down memory lane and relive some some cool Pac-man games.
This Flash version of the original Pacman is a lot of fun and is fairly close to the original.
Play Flash Pacman
MS Pacman was always my favorite and now you can play it without a pocket full of quarters. Play Original Ms. Pacman
Have you ever wanted to be one of the ghosts? Here you can in Anti-Pacman.
Play Anti-Pacman

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Old English was an elegant tongue, yet one that mirrored the brutality of its times. The Dictionary of Old English is tying it all together... more

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Information Systems Management

To say that I’m confused by the latest blog postings from the Taylor & Francis group would be the understatement of the year.

In one long list I got, in this order:
  1. Volume 27 Issue 1 December 2010
  2. Volume 27 Issue 3 June 2010
  3. Volume 27 Issue 2 March 2010
  4. Volume 26 Issue 1 December 2009
  5. Volume 26 Issue 4 September 2009
I thought I was going mad but it's not me – honest!!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mobility attitudes and behaviours among young Europeans

an article by Noeleen Doherty, Michael Dickmann and Timothy Mills (Cranfield School of Management) published in Career Development International Volume 15 Issue 4 (2010)

The paper seeks to explore the career attitudes, motivations and behaviours of young people in initial vocational education and training (IVET) in Europe.
This exploratory web-based survey was conducted during the European year for mobility. Drawing on existing research on the motivators of international careers, it explored young people’s perceptions of barriers and incentives to mobility.
The study differentiates “natives” (those who did not go abroad) and “boundary crossers” (those who did). Cultural exposure, travel and a desire for adventure are key motivators. Counter-intuitively, those who chose not to go abroad are significantly more positive about the potential for professional development but are significantly more concerned for personal safety. Some maturational trends are apparent.
Research limitations/implications
The study is limited to a “European-wide” perspective from a sample, which had access to the web survey. Further research could usefully explore differences in attitude and mobility behaviours within and across specific European countries.
Practical implications
Factors restricting boundary-crossing behaviour may be rooted in aspects of psychological mobility such as perceived benefits of the experience, self-confidence and risk aversion. This has practical implications for policy-makers and career development for early career foreign didactic experiences where support for placements may need to focus more on psychological mobility, an area currently under-researched.
This exploratory paper provides data to examine the mobility behaviours among young people in IVET, distinguishing between “natives” and “boundary crossers”. It presents an important attempt to more fully understand the dynamics of mobility attitudes and behaviours among young people.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The printing press was not at first used to make books. Rather, almanacs, calendars, municipal orders, indulgence certificates... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Tibet: a land where childlike monks and nuns smile softly all day long? A place of stillness, calm, and wondrous spiritual energy? Only in the romantic imagination... more

Spitball Warrior via the How-To Geek by Asian Angel
The object of the game is to choose a spitball warrior and let your enemies have it with as many spitballs as you can shoot in a limited time.
Play Spitball Warrior

via Arts & Letters Daily &ndash ideas, criticism, debate
Human evolution can help explain what goes on in fiction. At the same time, fiction can tell us about thought processes built by evolution itself... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Engrossing, energetic, and compelling, Van Gogh’s letters dramatise individual genius while throwing light on how the creative mind works... more
A friend and I saw this exhibition in Amsterdam. Wonderful!

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Louis Armstrong was, as Philip Larkin put it, “an artist of Flaubertian purity”. Beyond that, he was one of the nicest human beings ever to walk the earth... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
An extinct race of humans found in Africa had big eyes, child-like faces, and a high IQ – genius ancestors... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Just-so stories: unscientific yarn-spinning, mere guessing? Or a part of imaginative hypothesis building in science? David Barash explores a question too-long ignored... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The idea of a "Native American city" till recently made no sense. Now we're finding out about the ghastly secrets of Cahokia, an ancient city on the Mississippi... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What was it like to be one of the girls in Hugh Hefner's glamorous harem? "I may as well have lived in a convent"... more

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sing a Song of Safety …

via Intute blog by Paul Meehan

Laboratory safety is a serious business, but that's not to say we can't have fun getting the message across – the students at UC Berkeley have done just that, with a musical video aimed at all levels of laboratory users.

If you ever wondered what might happen if you drop purple hair into a beaker of acid, this is the video for you …

The Safety Song

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Institutionalizing social entrepreneurship in regulatory space: ...

Reporting and disclosure by community interest companies

an article by Alex Nicholls (Said Business School, University of Oxford) published in
Accounting, Organizations and Society Volume 35 Issue 4 (May 2010)

In 2005, the British parliament passed legislation to make available the first new legal form of incorporation in over a century: the Community Interest Company (CIC). This initiative represented an important element within a larger set of public policy measures that aimed to create a more enabling environment for the accelerated growth of social entrepreneurship and, specifically, social enterprises. In an exploratory study, this paper presents an analysis of the regulatory space within which the reporting and disclosure practices for CICs were negotiated.
Three elements within the regulatory space are identified as having explanatory value:
  • regulatory boundaries that set and limit the terms of negotiation around regulatory practice;
  • the key actors that engage in a process of negotiation around the establishment of actual practice; and
  • the range of debate and conflicting ideas that inform regulatory negotiation and legitimating consensus.
The analysis suggests that a normative logic of light touch regulation was of particular importance within the wider UK policy context from within which CICs emerged and that the CIC Regulator acts as a mediator of disclosure information across multiple user constituencies.

Empirically, this paper draws upon a sample of 80 published CIC annual reports to consider two aspects of CIC reporting:
  • the quantity of information provided; and
  • the type of data presented.
These data demonstrate the limitations and challenges of current CIC regulatory disclosure practices for key users of reporting information, particularly in terms of perceptions of organizational legitimacy. Conclusions are drawn concerning these limitations, particularly in terms of their implications for public policy.

In terms of new research, this paper makes two important contributions. First, it develops theory in terms of (social) reporting and public policy with respect to the regulatory mechanisms that relate the two. This has yet to be explored in social entrepreneurship research. Second, this paper includes a preliminary examination of the reporting practices of CICs in their policy context, including an analysis of a sample of the publicly available CIC annual reports that have been filed to date. This data set has yet to be the subject of any other academic research.

Hazel’s comment:

What is the difference between a CIC and a charity? I wasn’t at all sure since I know of several organisations that have been set up for the benefit of the community but have charitable status.

The CIC Regulator defines CICs thus:
    Community Interest Companies (CICS) are limited companies, with special additional features, created for the use of people who want to conduct a business or other activity for community benefit, and not purely for private advantage. This is achieved by a “community interest test” and “asset lock”, which ensure that the CIC is established for community purposes and the assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes. Registration of a company as a CIC has to be approved by the Regulator who also has a continuing monitoring and enforcement role.
So, we’re actually into a different animal here. A limited company that is not set up “purely” for private advantage but – here I start getting confused – a CIC is not, but apparently may be, a company limited by guarantee, a not-for-profit organisation or a charity.

Methinks that lots more study is required to help my colleagues at The Accounting Bureau (ABUK) provide an even better service to organisations that are not in the “any which way for a dime” camp. ABUK’s CEO specialises in the bookkeeping and reporting for such organisations but it would be good for me as the information manager to have more than a passing idea as to actually what all these different organisations are and what the rules are that make them different.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

10 ready - 11 sept

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The ultimate worth of cities lies in their ability to deliver a better life not only for the rich and most skilled, but for ordinary citizens... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Between 1959 and 1962, 3 million Chinese died of hunger or were executed. Parents sold their children, people dug up the dead and ate them... more

A working life: The Tower Bridge operator via Education news, comment and analysis by Jill Insley
Ever wondered what it's like to take charge of raising London's Tower Bridge? Charles Lotter, who’s job it is, gave Jill Insley the chance to find out

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
H.L. Mencken: ready to bust up the joint with his combative, beautifully sprung, ingeniously funny style, as irresistible as a laughing baby... more

Why do we yawn, and why is yawning contagious via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza
Everyone knows yawning is contagious. If you yawn, someone else will probably yawn shortly thereafter. As I did the research for this column, I noticed that nearly every article about yawning pointed out that just reading the article itself could make you yawn. Even your dog will yawn if it sees you yawning. more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Jane Austen was such a subtle reader of her characters’ manners, flaws, and virtues, yet was herself a mysterious presence, hard to imagine in the flesh... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Britain has some creepy ways of policing its citizens. But turning classical music into a weapon, with Mozart a tool of state repression, marks a new low... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
From wartime Britain to the glittering balls of John Kennedy’s D.C., Bill Patten Jr. tells his family saga. He may dislike the morality of his tale, but... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In praise of tough criticism. John Di Leo wants to see academics develop thicker skins and more rugged tools in tearing apart each other’s arguments... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Even if the beauties of a peacock’s tail, the Art of Fugue, and a stunning landscape have deep Darwinian roots, the pleasures they give us are quite different... more

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Journalism is reductive, says David Hare. Art opens up reality to us, making it deeper, thicker, more surprising. Art never tells you what you already know... more

Blosics – A Physics Game That Happens To Be FUN! via by Karl L Gechlik
Navigate on over here and let's get ready to play!
Use the tutorial first!

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Swashbuckling historical novels have long pleased the public and been derided by critics. Time perhaps for a serious second look at the genre.... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
George Orwell’s timeless, transcendent fairy story, Animal Farm, is still outlawed by régimes around the world. Why is it such political dynamite?... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Computer-based program trading has changed forever the nature of global investing. If only computers could grasp the meaning of terms like “panic”... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Decent scholarship is drowning in an ocean of low-quality journal articles. The current emphasis on academic career advancement via quantity of publications has to stop... more
PLEASE - because I am tired of browsing through so many journals in the expectation that one day I’ll find the nugget of gold. Trouble is that once in a while I do.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Modern medicine is good at staving off death, but bad at knowing when to focus, instead, on improving the days that terminal patients have left... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Women can be as immoral, malicious, and violent as chaps. Anyone shocked by this hasn't paid attention in history class, let alone the nightly news... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
After the main performance, crowds in 16th-century London playhouses were treated to a late-night B-feature of rude, lewd farce, known as the "jig"... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
It's hard to think of an American movie before the 1960s that concerned itself with food, says Paula Marantz Cohen. But look at what's happened since then... more

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered

You will never know, because I don’t, just how many abstracts I read in a week, a month or a year!

I do know that I read approximately 600 journals over the course of a year, some of which are three a year and some which are fortnightly! I've never done the more complex arithmetic!

Whenever I read one of these however-many abstracts I put it very quickly into one of four categories:
a) it’s very interesting and I need to share it with you
b) it’s interesting but probably not a general scale – I’ll mark to my personal study
c) this is boooring – and if I’m bored by it I expect that you will be too (an assumption I have to work to or I’d be forever trying to second guess what the readers actually like)
That leaves d)
an abstract which possibly introduces an interesting article but is somehow not clear.

I’m certainly bewildered at the last three journals I’ve read in the British Library today – requested because I thought “this is a d)” – I have absolutely no idea what I saw in any one of them on first reading!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Partnerships to support early school leavers: ...

school-college transitions and “winter leavers” in Scotland

an article by Jesus Canduela, Rachel Chandler, Ian Elliott, Colin Lindsay, Ronald W McQuaid and Robert Raesidea (Employment Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University) and Suzi Macpherson (Equality and Human Rights Commission, Glasgow) published in Journal of Education and Work Volume 23 Issue 4 (September 2010)

This article explores the characteristics, destinations and progression routes of early school leavers – specifically “exceptional entry winter leavers” – in Scotland. Exceptional entry allows students to enter college in the term before their statutory school leaving date – such young people attend college while formally remaining the responsibility of their school. Such arrangements represent an innovative model of supporting transitions to further education among a specific, potentially vulnerable client group, while also offering lessons for the development of school-college collaboration in other areas. Based on an analysis of official data, new survey research with schools and colleges, and in-depth case studies, this article identifies how schools and colleges work in partnership to support these early school leavers. We find that schools and colleges have developed a range of innovative approaches to engaging with winter leavers, and that the majority complete their programmes or achieve other positive end-of-year outcomes. However, the most disadvantaged young people remain least likely to progress. The article concludes by identifying lessons for good practice in school-college partnership-working and considering implications for policies to prevent young people from finding themselves not in employment, education or training.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Virtual worlds in higher education: ...

a policy simulation

an article by Martha Garcia-Murillo, Ian MacInnes and Joe Rubleske published in International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations Volume 7 Number 5 (2010)

The purpose of this paper is to explore whether virtual worlds can provide a setting for a rewarding learning experience for college students. The paper describes a policy-making simulation conducted within a virtual world and the results of an analysis conducted to assess its learning effectiveness. Our analysis, drawn from eight “learning principles” advanced by Gee (2003), indicates that the levels of enthusiasm and learning that take place within a virtual world can differ considerably for different students: while some prefer traditional online methods, others are more enthusiastic about virtual world settings. Of the eight principles we considered, we found evidence to support “identity and self knowledge”, active learning”, “psychological moratorium” and “content” principles. The “affinity”, “transfer” and “exploration” principles were not as well supported. In conclusion, we recommend that instructors give serious consideration to using virtual worlds as a tool to support interactive activities of students such as simulations.

Evaluation of Enterprise Education in England

a Research Report from the Department for Employment (formerly the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DFE-RR015)

The report:
  • reviews the impact of the Enterprise Education programme in secondary schools in England, which aimed to help young people be creative and innovative

  • presents a national picture of the range of Enterprise Education provision

  • explores how schools are using the Enterprise Education funding, the value added to the experiences of pupils and the potential longer-term benefits for the economy

  • outlines the policy context behind Enterprise Education

  • considers the impact of Enterprise Education on:
    – the development of pupils’ skills and understanding
    – pupils’ aspirations, motivation and attendance
    – staff motivation and understanding, and
    – the enhancement of pupils’ knowledge and understanding of enterprise

  • sets out the critical success factors in facilitating good enterprise provision, looking in particular at:
    – school culture
    – allocation of time and the curriculum, and
    – activities on the ground

  • reviews the schools’ use of funding and the perceptions of the potential value of ring-fencing the School Development Grant

Access the full report (PDF 118pp)

Mind the gap: ...

school leaver aspirations and delayed pathways to further and higher education

an article by Tom Stehlik (School of Education, University of South Australia, Adelaide)

The “gap year” is defined as a time between the end of school and the beginning of further studies in which young people engage in a variety of activities, including paid or voluntary work. “Gapping” is a significant trend globally for young people deferring formal study after completing school, before commencing further or higher education. A sizable industry has grown up around the gap-year concept with many volunteer placement agencies, websites, guide books and “time-off consultants” available to help young people plan their gap year, often at significant cost. It is claimed that a gap-year experience will help participants acquire “soft skills” needed in the modern world of work, develop social values allowing them to better adapt to university life and ultimately become more attractive to employers. Reference to the literature and data from surveys of Australian school and university students addresses the gap-year phenomenon and how can it be defined and theorised. The paper explores reasons why school leavers delay transition into further education and what they do instead, queries whether gapping provides significant development of “soft skills”, and concludes that the gap-year trend has implications for recognising work experience and informal learning in the workplace.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Unemployment and inactivity in the 2008–2009 recession

an article by Paul Gregg University of Bristol) and Jonathan Wadsworth (Royal Holloway, University of London) published in Economic & Labour Market Review Volume 4 Number 8 (August 2010)

This article looks at the pattern of worklessness, that is unemployment and inactivity, in the latest recession. Compared to previous recessions, the rise in unemployment has been small relative to the fall in Gross Domestic Product. Likewise, numbers receiving workless benefits other than for unemployment are not rising, in contrast to the two previous economic downturns. This suggests that labour market policies introduced since 1996 have, so far, been effective. However, the ability for new policies to withstand a rise in long-term unemployed is yet to be tested.

Hazel’s comment:
The title of this piece seems to assume that the recession came to an end last year. I remain to be convinced of that!

Futuristic workspace looks like a dinosaur egg

via Boing Boing by Lisa Katayama

Do you like to block the world out completely when you’re working at your desk?

Copenhagen-based design team GamFratesi has created a prototype for a sleek, dinosaur egg-like work environment that they call Rewrite. It reminds me of those cubicles they had at my grad school library, except they’re a lot nicer-looking.

Read all about it at Dezeen

Hazel’s comment:
I want one!! If only to make significant other realise that when I say I’m working I am not available to undertake domestic chores. I will emerge from my bubble when I'm ready to emerge and not before!

Impact of the recession on households

an article by Steve Howell, Debra Leaker and Ruth Barrett (Office for National Statistics) published in Economic & Labour Market Review Volume 4 Number 8 (August 2010)

This article examines the impact of the recent recession on households in the UK. The first half of the article uses the Labour Force Survey to assess the effect of the downturn on labour market participation, specifically the proportions of working, workless and mixed households below state pension age. Comparisons between different groups of the population are also drawn, including by: household type, housing tenure, region, age, number of dependent children and age of the youngest dependent child. The second part of the article focuses on changes to the level of household income using the Living Costs and Food Survey. Analysis is presented at different stages of income (original income, gross income, disposable income and post-tax income), and also by household characteristics including: economic position (working, workless or mixed), region, age and composition.

Hazel’s comment:
OK, that’ a lot of statistics but read between the lines and you will find the human stories.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
From curator to benefactor to docent, the art museum is a natural home for women, young and old. Polly Frost provides a field guide... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What if you could fix global warming with a balloon, a few miles of hose, and a benign stream of sulfur dioxide? Good news? NO!... more ... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Women are often the cruellest critics of other female writers. Where does this anger come from, and at what expense? Emily Gould wonders... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Edvard Munch knew better than anyone that the flip side of the glorious Arctic midnight sun is the long, dark, melancholy winter to come... more

Friday Fun: Play Bubble Quod via the How-To Geek by mysticgeek
Hey, another Friday! Time to play a relaxing flash game on the boss's time. Not on MY time you don’t!
Today we look at Bubble Quod a fun physics game which should waste time until the whistle blows. The basic idea is you're stuck in a bubble but you need to get out of it by traversing different obstacles and scenarios to get to a pin to pop the bubble.
You use the arrow keys to maneuver through obstacles in different levels. You need to get objects moving to bounce off them to get to different areas.
Points are determined by the amount of time it takes to get through the level.
This is truly a relaxing game with a cool jazzy music loop in the background.
Play Bubble Quod at The How-To Geek Arcade!

Brain Fitness Expands, But Research Still Lags via Librarians' Internet Index: New This Week
This 2009 blog post discusses the new brain fitness industry, which “bases many of its exercises on activities that you could do just as easily for free”. Provides suggestions for keeping your brain healthy (such as physical exercise and doing new things) other than purchasing brain training software. Includes links to related posts. From Psych Central, an “independent mental health social network created and run by mental health professionals”.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What would it be like to be brought up by George Orwell? Pretty grim, you might think. You would be wrong... more

Hidden files reveal true suffering of early suffragettes via The National Archives News
Files uncovered during a cataloguing project at The National Archives shed new light on the hardships women endured in their fight for the vote 100 years ago.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In our universities we ought to keep on studying philosophy, music, and art. But how about a nod toward the fact that 27,000 children die every day from preventable causes?... more

Go Figure via BBC News Technology UK Edition
Can a statistics website really be exciting?
Yes, it can!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Developments in industrial action 2005–2009

This overview examines developments in industrial action across the European Union and Norway over 2005–2009. The most ‘strike-prone’ countries during the period were Denmark, France and Belgium, while Austria, Estonia and Latvia were essentially strike-free, and the level of industrial action in the new Member States was only about a quarter of that in the EU15. Manufacturing was the sector most prone to conflict, followed by the broad public sector and transport and communications. Pay disputes were the most common cause of industrial action.

PDF 34pp

Press alert from Eurofound

I See Your Dream Job

a book by “career intuitive” Sue Frederick

Publisher’s blurb says:
In this first-ever book to combine ancient mystical teachings with current career knowledge, Sue reveals how to read destiny clues (the way she reads them for clients) and create a practical plan for moving forward. She illuminates the negative patterns stopping you in your tracks and teaches you to remove them. You walk away with a fresh perspective on your life’s direction, and a realisation of how powerful you truly are.
This is a book for anyone who:
- Feels stuck in a job
- Feels unfulfilled at work
- Questions if they’re on the right track
- Yearns to do something more creative
- Dreams of a different path
- Has been fired
- Has been downsized
- Is underpaid and underappreciated
- Simply wants something different.

Hazel’s comment:
I have yet to be convinced that the mystical, new-age approach is helpful in choosing a career path to follow but it might work for some. Not due for release in the UK until 4 October has it for pre-order at £8.09.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Council could “clearly improve” detail recorded

The Freedom of Information Act is not the easiest of Acts to find one’s way around but the Head of Legal Services and Monitoring Officer at the London Borough of Haringey is, surely, not a person who would have difficulty understanding the requirements.

The Information Commissioner backed the local authority’s to withhold a case review into the death of Peter Connelly (formerly known as Baby P) but was critical of the way it had handled the information request.

Without going into too much detail the criticism hinges on the reasons why the qualified person objectively and reasonably arrived at the decision to withhold information. These reasons were not recorded at the time and the Commissioner’s investigation had to rely on opinion put forward by the Council – which might have been different from that which the expert relied on at the time.

If you’re involved in any way with the FOIA then you may it useful to get the Commissioner’s guidance “section 36 – what should be recorded” (December 2009), which is available on the ICO’s website

This case may also serve as a timely reminder that where a decision is reached it is important to record not only what the decision was but the arguments via which the decision was reached.

And this, of course, does not apply only in respect of Freedom of Information or Data Protection Acts, or the Environmental Information Regulations but also in any decision-making process in which we are involved with a third party.

Thanks to Freedom of Information from PDP Journals which I have just been reading in the British Library

Ageing – the social revolution

Chief economist at Deloitte discusses the global impact the ageing population will have on economic growth.

Read the full press release which contains some ideas I, for one, had not thought about previously. And the numbers are, to use what appears to be common parlance, awesome! And frightening.

Having trouble

I’ve been having trouble recently with Blogger not copying and pasting in Compose mode. Unfortunately, whilst this action does work in Edit HTML mode, and I can read HTML if I really put my mind to it, many of the posts that I have in draft have been sent to Blogger from Google Reader and have the Google Mail header and footer i.e. lots of HTML to get rid of. However, and this is the sad part, if I’m not careful, very careful, I end up deleting some of the text as well!!
The even more annoying thing about this, which is a new phenomenon, is that it does not happen when I use my husband’ computer which has Windows 7 OS.
My netbook was cheap because it is not upgradable from XP SP3 and has served me very well up till now – I do not want to change it but nor do I want to only post when I have access to a different computer (rather naturally creates domestic disharmony).
Anyone got an answer for me?

Disability, capacity for work and the business cycle: ...

an international perspective

an article by Hugo Benítez-Silva (SUNY-Stony Brook), Richard Disney (University of Nottingham) and Sergi Jiménez-Martín (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona GSE, and FEDEA) published in Economic Policy Volume 25 Issue 63 (July 2010)

Important policy issues arise from the high and growing number of people claiming disability benefits for reasons of incapacity for work in OECD countries. Economic conditions play an important part in explaining both the stock of disability benefit claimants and inflows to and outflows from that stock. Employing a variety of cross-country and country-specific household panel data sets, as well as administrative data, we find strong evidence that local variations in unemployment have an important explanatory role for disability benefit receipt, with higher total enrolments, lower outflows from rolls and, often, higher inflows into disability rolls in regions and periods of above-average unemployment. In understanding the nature of the cyclical fluctuations and trends in disability it is important to distinguish between work disability and health disability. The former is likely to be influenced by economic conditions and welfare programmes while the latter evolves in a slower fashion with medical technology and demographic changes. There is little evidence of health disability being related to the business cycle, so cyclical variations are driven by work disability. The rise in unemployment due to the current global economic crisis is expected to increase the number of disability insurance claimants.

Hazel’s comment:

I think I need to read the full article to understand this.

OUCH! It’s an article based on an OECD paper published in September 2009 and the PDF is 68 pages. Maybe I’ll just skim it!
If you want to do the same online then go to

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Unconscious processes in a career counselling case: ...

an action-theoretical perspective

an article by Brenda Dyer, Sheila K Marshall and Richard A Young (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Maria Chiara Pizzorno (Universit Delgi Studi di Torino, Italy), Kejia Qu (Beijing Normal University, PR China) and Ladislav Valach (Private Practice, Berne) published in British Journal of Guidance & Counselling Volume 38 Issue 3 (August 2010)

Although clients and counsellors can often account for their actions in counselling, sometimes the link between the action taken and the larger goal is not apparent. This article accounts for counterproductive, paradoxical actions within the counselling process by addressing unconscious processes as links between immediate actions and larger projects. A career counselling case is presented, the data of which were gathered and analysed through the action-project method. This method includes a video-supported recall procedure, called the self-confrontation interview, as a research and practice means of accessing unconscious aspects of the inter-subjective action of counselling. The complexity of career counselling is illustrated as multiple goals and projects, both conscious and unconscious, are manifest in a single session. Implications for practice include the primacy of the relationship project in career counselling as the relationship project not only contains but reflects other projects such as identity and vocational projects.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

So you think you can spell?

via LibeRaCe's Library Blog by LibeRaCe

Spelling Bee is a highly addictive, but very useful, spelling game hosted on the Visual Thesaurus website. The thesaurus itself is a subscription service, but the spelling game is free to use. You'll need headphones, then click on the Start button to hear the first word then type in your best guess. You'll also get a definition and example of how the word is used.
If you're correct the word will turn green, if not you get three more goes before you can surrender! Points are scored for the number of correct guesses and the number of times you need a hint. You can click on the Play Word button at any time. If you are a thesaurus subscriber you can create your own spelling contest or try contest based on other peoples saved favourites. Let the games commence!

And please only start when you have spare time – it really can be addictive without the sound so you are not so much spelling as trying to guess the word and then spell it correctly!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Discourses on employability: constituting the responsible citizen

an article by Andreas Fejesa (Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linkping University, Sweden) published in Studies in Continuing Education Volume 32 Issue 2 (July 2010)

In the last couple of decades, there has been a shift from speaking about employment to speaking about employability. The interest in this article is directed at how discourses on employability are mobilised in the wider discursive terrain of governance. How does governance operate, what subject is produced and, more specifically, who is positioned as responsible for the employability of the citizen through such discourses? These questions are addressed by analysing three different kinds of texts:

  • transnational policy documents on lifelong learning and the labour market,
  • a Swedish policy text on in-service training in the health care sector, and
  • interviews with employees at six nursing homes for elderly people.
A discourse analysis is performed inspired by the concepts of governmentality and the enabling state. The analysis indicates that the individual is constructed as responsible for her/his own employability, and the state and the employer are construed as enablers. However, this is not clear-cut or deterministic as different kinds of texts produce different kinds of positioning. This kind of analysis might help open up a new space for thought and action.

Hazel’s comment:
I've left the keywords at just the one – I did not think that “responsibilitisation” was a real word. But the spell checker on here doesn’t recognise “employability” or “governmentality” either!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Friday Fun: King of Bridges via the How-To Geek by Asian Angel
King of Bridges
The graphics have a slightly older style to them but this fun game will definitely make you think.
There are thirty levels that you can work through.
Play King of Bridges

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Why do we still need to read the novels of Charles Dickens? Because they tell us, in the grandest way possible, why we are what we are... more
Unlike my friend Yvonne, I still find Dickens difficult and will not willingly even open one of his novels having been well and truly put off them in school.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Andy Warhol wasn’t just an artist. He was, in Arthur Danto’s words, “the nearest thing to a philosophical genius the history of art has produced”... more

The Puzzle of Brueghel's Paintings of Telescopes via Technology Review Feed
A painting from 1617 appears to show a type of telescope thought not to have been built until much later.
Wikipedia has a good article on Pieter Brueghel the Elder with examples of some of his paintings – including The Tower of Babel which has to be one of the pictures I’d take to a desert island.

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Laura Wilder was a matron of 65 when she published her first Little House book. She had help: her weird, talented daughter, Rose... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A fine composer, yes, but Franz Josef Haydn was also the perfect Enlightenment man: rational, scholarly, tolerant, socially progressive... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Positive psychology is delighted by the recognition it now gets among scientists. But do people really need “happiness interventions”?... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Attention, Whole Foods shoppers! Your worries about “sustainability”, organic onions, and saving the planet do nothing for the plight of the world's poorest people... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Kaiser Wilhelm’s plan was to unleash the furies of Islamic power, a jihad, on the British Raj and harness the glories of the Near East to German interests... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Cold War standoff between the West and the Soviets seemed at the time unlikely to collapse into total war. That, however, is a retrospective view... more

Why SweetSearch is the best search engine for students

via The findingDulcinea Blog by findingDulcinea Staff

SweetSearch is the product of 100,000+ hours of research that went into creating findingDulcinea's 700+ Web Guides and thousands of news and feature articles. This trove of content links to tens of thousands of Web sites that have been evaluated and deemed reliable by our research experts and librarian and teacher consultants.

Please read the blog post for yourself (from February this year) and then, of course, try out the search engine.

Hazel’s comment:
Not to use for the trivial or lifestyle search but for scholarly articles that have an academic/authoritative source and can safely be cited in your essay or dissertation. You need to be aware that SweetSearch is from an American organisation and, perhaps, adapt your findings accordingly.

Non-Unique Social Security Numbers?

that's the American equivalent of our National Insurance Number (NINO) – and you;d better believe that the same is true for the UK only with rather smaller numbers, most of which are never discussed.

via Coffee Klatch by pfitz on 21 August 2010

Your Social Security number may not be unique to you.
An article I recently read says that millions of Social Security numbers are shared by more than one person.
Just how many?

Out of the 280 million Social Security numbers the firm studied across its network of databases:
  • More than 20 million people have more than one number associated with their name.
  • More than 40 million numbers are associated with more than one person.
  • More than 100,000 Americans have 5 or more numbers associated with their name.
  • More than 27,000 Social Security numbers are associated with 10 or more people.

See full article from WalletPop:

Hazel’s comment:
Do you believe in coincidence? Personally I think that things happen for a reason – I just can’t always figure out what the reason is.
Let’s proceed with the coincidence of this piece of “news” which I read this morning, the day after I posted an abstract about credibility and commented on trusted sources. Scott Pfitzinger, reference librarian at Butler University in the USA, writer of the Coffee Klatch blog, is firmly one of my trusted sources. If Scott says it’s so then I check no further.
And if you like corny jokes – all good clean fun – then look at some of Scott’s – the puns are outrageous.

Struggling with the system: the case for UK welfare reform

This briefing paper from Oxfam sets out why Oxfam has chosen to focus on out-of-work benefits, what the system currently looks like, and how it should be changed to help eliminate poverty and suffering in the UK.

It highlights the need for a benefit system which recognises that:

  • work should always pay and create incentives to work;
  • that is based on cooperation rather than coercion;
  • that takes account of people's different needs; and
  • recognises the non-financial contribution made by people living in poverty.
This short paper (PDF 16pp) sets out some powerful arguments and makes recommendations for reform.

I am very grateful to Research Online from Skills Development Scotland’s Labour Market Research Team for bringing this to my attention.

Hazel’s comment:
I have to admit that it is not often that I actually read the publications that I find for you but this I did. And I felt ashamed that the service where I spent 17 mainly happy years working on the frontline has deteriorated to the point where Jobcentre staff laughed at someone's aspirations. Tell him that it will be difficult, tell him you’ll do everything in your power to help (which if I understand the present system is not much), but under no circumstances do you laugh AT a job-seeker.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Social and Heuristic Approaches to Credibility Evaluation Online

an article by Miriam J Metzger, Andrew J Flanagin and Ryan B Medders (Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara) published in Journal of Communication Volume 60 Issue 3 (September 2010)

The tremendous amount of information available online has resulted in considerable research on information and source credibility. The vast majority of scholars, however, assume that individuals work in isolation to form credibility opinions and that people must assess information credibility in an effortful and time-consuming manner. Focus group data from 109 participants were used to examine these assumptions. Results show that most users rely on others to make credibility assessments, often through the use of group-based tools. Results also indicate that rather than systematically processing information, participants routinely invoked cognitive heuristics to evaluate the credibility of information and sources online. These findings are leveraged to suggest a number of avenues for further credibility theorising, research, and practice.

Hazel’s comment:
I’ve not had the opportunity to read this article yet but I definitely intend to and if at the end I don’t come up with a lay-person’s conclusion that “people trust people they trust” then it, whatever “it” is has to be OK I will be surprised.
Well, so-and-so said it was alright to do this, use this source, make this assumption – I trust so-and-so not to advise me to eat toadstools.
I hope that you trust me but then I have to be careful when recommending anything to you, doesn’t it?
But I, of course, have my trusted people – and, as Phil Bradley said not long ago, “I research this rubbish so that you don’t have to”.

Sunday opening in UK public libraries

an article by Chris Moore (Wiltshire Libraries & Heritage) and Claire Creaser (LISU, Loughborough University) published in Journal of Librarianship and Information Science Volume 42 Issue 3 (September 2010)

This paper presents a summary of the first survey of public library authorities in the UK to explore Sunday opening, undertaken in 2007 as part of the Clore Leadership Programme. It provides a snapshot of Sunday opening practice, set against a context of societal, economic, and policy developments, and examines whether Sunday opening furthers the appeal and use of libraries, and strengthens libraries’ place as centres for community engagement. There is considerable variation in practice across the UK. The most common barriers found to Sunday opening were concerned with costs and staffing issues. Two-thirds of respondents who open on Sunday reported increased use as a result of doing so. Critical success factors identified were the location of branches, making an ‘offer’ to attract users, appropriate staffing, and motivation.

Hazel’s comment:
I have to say that if the costs and staffing issues can be resolved I find myself more in favour of Sunday opening for public libraries than I ever did for shops and stores opening on a Sunday. The “Keep Sunday Special” campaign has died and for many church-goers it’s now out of church into the shop rather than into the pub.