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: http://srph.it/bSi4i9

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.

Comprehensive linguistic steganography survey

an article by Abdelrahman Desoky published in International Journal of Information and Computer Security Volume 4 Number 2 (2010)

Contemporary steganography approaches suffer from many serious deficiencies; generally, they attempt to hide data as detectable and suspicious noise in a cover that is assumed to look innocent. In addition, steganography approaches found in literature have focused on how to conceal a message and not on how to camouflage its transmittal. This paper presents a comprehensive survey that focuses mainly on, but not limited to, computational linguistics aspects of steganography and it is organised as follows:
  • Section 1 concisely details the fundamental concepts related to steganography, summarises the current state of the research, and highlights the technical concerns. Then, it briefly describes the modern steganography, namely noiseless steganography (Nostega).
  • Section 2 discusses the contemporary steganography and Nostega paradigm (the modern steganography).
  • Section 3 demonstrates Nostega-based methodologies.
  • Section 4 presents a brief overview of steganalysis.
  • Section 5 concludes the survey and highlights directions for future research.
Hazel’s comment:
There are several articles about steganography in the “stuff” that I’ve been reading recently. And, yes, I did feel a bit uneducated that I had to use Google define: to find out what on earth the fuss is all about. This is the definition I thought best fitted what this article is talking about:

“Steganography is the technique whereby a message, possibly encrypted, is concealed within another medium. In the world of computing, this means that a seemingly innocuous graphic or sound file (say) can conceal a message which could be used to disguise corporate espionage. (cityofseattle.net/informationsecurity/glossary)”
So, in the computer age, steganography, which was the art of hiding your real message inside a seemingly innocuous one, is now something to be feared or, at the very least, guarded against!
On a more prosaic front I’ve seen messages on Facebook from some of my teenage friends which appear to be innocent – but they carry hidden messages to those “in the know”. Do they know they are using steganography?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Changes in undergraduate students’ psychological well-being ...

as they progress through university

an article by Bridgette Bewick, Gina Koutsopoulou and Esther Slaa (University of Leeds), Jeremy Miles (RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, USA) and Michael Barkham (University of Sheffield)

This article investigates the psychological well-being of students from all faculties across their undergraduate degree from pre-registration to semester two of year three at one UK university. Data were collected on seven occasions, with 66% of students who began their studies between 2000 and 2002 taking part in the project. Psychological well-being was assessed using the General Population Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (GP-CORE). Results show that greater strain is placed on well-being once students start university compared to pre-university levels. Levels of strain are generally highest during semester one, with significant reduction in levels of distress from semester one to semester two being observed in both year one and year three. At no time did levels of distress fall to pre-registration levels. Given these results show university to be a time of heightened distress, there is a need to ensure that students receive the support necessary throughout their studies to enable them to successfully complete their degree course, enabling them to negotiate the transition to university and then ultimately into the workforce.

Hazel’s comment:
Stress is always higher than it was before you went to the university – is it worth it?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Is the Internet melting our brains?

via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza

From Salon:
By now the arguments are familiar:

We’re facing a crisis, one that could very well corrode the way humans have communicated since we first evolved from apes. What we need, so say these proud Luddites, is to turn our backs on technology and embrace not the keyboard, but the pencil.
Such sentiments, in the opinion of Dennis Baron, are nostalgic, uninformed hogwash. A professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Baron seeks to provide the historical context that is often missing from debates about the way technology is transforming our lives in his new book, A Better Pencil. His thesis is clear: Every communication advancement throughout human history, from the pencil to the typewriter to writing itself, has been met with fear, scepticism and a longing for the medium that’s been displaced. Far from heralding in a 2001: Space Odyssey dystopia, Baron believes that social networking sites, blogs and the Internet are actually making us better writers and improving our ability to reach out to our fellow man. A Better Pencil is both a defense of the digital revolution and a keen examination of how technology both improves and complicates our lives.
More here.

Hazel’s comment
First published last year but still interesting.

The involvement of the European Union in career guidance policy: ...

a brief history

an article by A G Watts, Ronald G Sultana and John McCarthy published in International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance Volume 10 Number 2 (2010)

The history of the involvement of the European Union in the development of policy related to career guidance is analysed in terms of three broad periods. In the first two of these, interventions were confined to pilot projects, exchanges and placements, study visits and studies/surveys, with particular attention to young people; whereas the period since 2000 has seen greater attention being paid to lifelong activities that support the implementation of EU policy priorities and their mainstreaming at national level. These trends reflect both the EU’s “creeping competence” and the emerging concept of “lifelong guidance”.

Doncaster library cuts are cultural vandalism

an article by Lauren Smith in Society Guardian

In such a deprived town, libraries are vital to the community. But the council sees them as “soft targets” in the spending cuts

Doncaster is a town in trouble. It has some of the highest rates of unemployment (one in five adults is on benefits), teenage pregnancy and illegal drug use in the country, and 38% of people in the town aged 16-74 have no qualifications. It has a history of “dysfunctional politics, poor services and ineffective leadership” identified in the audit commission’s report following investigation into the failing council. For many, this was a positive sign; the government stepped in and plans were made to improve the council.
With severe public sector cuts looming, George Osborne is eager to remind people that his guiding principles are “fairness and growth” – and that those opposing spending cuts are “deficit deniers”. What cannot be denied is that Doncaster’s struggling services face a troubled future. The economy is projected to shrink by over 10%, thousands of council employees will lose their jobs and the most vulnerable will lose vital services. Libraries are often seen as “soft targets” and will be the first to be cut. Management have admitted the cuts could fall foul of existing legislation, including the 1964 Public Libraries Act, which makes public library provision statutory.

and so it goes on
Read the full article

Monday, 23 August 2010

How Finland could improve our health

from The Guardian via IPPR

Britain's health inequality is the worst in Europe.

Jenni Viitanen examines how Finland turned their own geographic inequalities around in the 1970s and explores how the UK coalition government can learn from Finland's example by engaging with communities to encourage people to take more responsibility for their health.

Read the full article

Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages

an article by Deborah A Cobb-Clark (The University of Melbourne and IZA) and Michelle Tan (Australian National University) published by ScienceDirect: Labour Economics as an accepted manuscript on 6 August 2010

This paper examines whether men’s and women’s noncognitive skills inuence their occupational attainment and, if so, whether this contributes to the disparity in their relative wages. We find that noncognitive skills have a substantial effect on the probability of employment in many, though not all, occupations in ways that differ by gender. Consequently, men and women with similar noncognitive skills enter occupations at very different rates. Women, however, have lower wages on average not because they work in different occupations than men do, but rather because they earn less than their male colleagues employed in the same occupation. On balance, women’s noncognitive skills give them a slight wage advantage. Finally, we find that accounting for the endogeneity of occupational attainment more than halves the proportion of the overall gender wage gap that is unexplained.

This paper uses confidentialised unit record file data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIAESR). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to FaHCSIA or MIAESR.

Welfare spending – time to reassess universal benefits?

by Kayte Lawton and Kate Stanley via http://www.ippr.org/

In the face of oncoming austerity, no public spending can simply continue without scrutiny. All spending must be subject to robust tests of providing public value, meeting a demonstrable need and contributing to progressive goals. This must include spending on welfare benefits. We cannot simply assume that, because welfare is an intrinsic part of the progressive vision of a society that supports those who are worst off, the current system should remain untouched. Welfare must also be subject to tests of public value.

Difficult political decisions will have to be made – and it does not get much tougher than making changes to benefits for the young and the old that will create losers – but government might have to go there.

Read the full article (PDF 4pp) which is an extracted chapter from Opportunities in an Age of Austerity: Smart ways of dealing with the UK’s fiscal deficit, published in November 2009.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Notions of diversity, British identities and citizenship belonging

an article by Uvanney Maylora (University of Bedfordshire) published in Race Ethnicity and Education Volume 13 Issue 2 (July 2010)

This article reports on a small-scale research study commissioned by the then Department for Education and Skills ([DfES] now the Department for Children, Schools and Families [DCSF]) in June 2006 to aid the work of the Diversity and Citizenship Curriculum Review Group, headed by Sir Keith Ajegbo. The findings concentrate on how “diversity” is viewed by schools and the implications of this for developing pupil understanding of British diversity, British identities and citizenship belonging. The article highlights student perceptions and experience of a diverse curriculum together with their perceptions of “Britishness” and citizenship belonging. In examining school and student understanding of diversity, this article explores two discrete aspects: “diversity” education and education about “Britishness”. While supporting the need to value British diversity, the article nevertheless challenges the assumption that ethnic or cultural “heritage” is always positive and/or learning about it positive.

Hazel’s comment:
And the commissioning Department is no longer the Department for Children, Schools and Families but ‘twas ever thus. I started working for the Department of Employment, which added “and Productivity” to its name and then took it off again – all in three years. And many of the forms used for benefit claims still had “Ministry of Labour” printed on them. Then, oh blessed relief, stability came with the biggest quango of the lot, The Manpower Services Commission, until 1990 and then the name changing, role changing started all over again!


via Phil Bradley's weblog

Phrases.net is all about common phrases, casual expressions and idioms.

It’s a large collection which can be browsed, searched and translated into various languages. It has a companion website, Abbreviations.com and aims to create a volunteering editors community to increase the number of phrases available. Some examples of phrases that you can find on the site are:
  • pit against
  • pitch in
  • play along
  • play around
  • play up
  • play away
  • plump up
  • point out
  • polish off

The definitions are quite brief (pipe up = to speak up) and as such would be very useful in a educational setting, or with students learning English as a foreign language.
Searching is simple – via an alphabetical listing, search box or random phrase. It’s a nice site and works well in conjunction with the sister site.

Hazel’s comment:
I am so glad that Phil searches out these sites so that the rest of us don’t have to. I can then disregard what he considers rubbish (yes, he does tell us about that as well and I have not disagreed with him yet) and pass on what I think may be useful and relevant for my readers. Enjoy!
And a personal message to Phil – get better real soon!

Children missing from education

This publication from OfSTED (HMI: 100041) evaluates the effectiveness of actions taken by local authorities in relation to children and young people who are missing from education.

It considers whether legislation and guidance effectively support the authorities in protecting them.

Children and young people who are not receiving education and whose whereabouts are unknown may be particularly at risk of physical, emotional and psychological harm.

Download the full publication and available documents
Children missing from education (Word) 531.50 kB
Children missing from education (PDF) 255.25 kB
Children missing from education summary (Word) 400.50 kB
Children missing from education summary (PDF) 66.50 kB

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Unemployed citizen or ‘at risk’ client?

Classification systems and employment services in Denmark and Australia

an article by Dorte Caswell (Danish Institute of Local Governmental Studies), Greg Marston (University of Queensland) and Jørgen Elm Larsen (University of Copenhagen) published in Critical Social Policy Volume 30 Issue 3 (August 2010)

The paper explores recent developments in Australian and Danish unemployment policies with a special focus on the technologies used to classify and categorise unemployed people on government benefits. Using governmentality as our theoretical framework, we consider the implications of reducing complex social problems to statistical scores and differentiated categories – forms of knowledge that diminish the capacity to think about unemployment as a collective problem requiring collective solutions. What we argue is that classification systems, which are part and parcel of welfare state administration, are becoming more technocratic in the way in which they divide the population into different categories of risk.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Meeting Children’s Basic Needs

an article by Lisa A Gennetian (The Brookings Institution, United States), Nina Castells (MDRC, United States) and Pamela A Morris (New York University, United States) published in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 32 Issue 9 (September 2010)

We review existing research and policy evidence about income as a vehicle for meeting children’s basic needs – that is, income represented as the purest monetary transfer for increasing the purchasing power of low-income families. Social scientists have made great methodological strides in establishing whether income has independent effects on the cognitive development of low-income children. Our review of that research suggests that a $1000 increase in income has positive, but small, effects on children, rarely exceeding 1/10th of a standard deviation change in outcomes for children. We argue that researchers are well-positioned for more rigorous investigations about how and why income affects children, but only first with thoughtful and creative regard for conceptual clarity, and for understanding income’s potentially inter-related influences on socio-emotional development, mental, and physical health. We also argue for more focus on the effects of income transfers, including when conditional on employment, as compared to more targeted direct investments in children. We end with a description of two-generation and cafeteria-style programmes as the frontiers of the next generation in income-enhancement policies, a call for more focus on policies than can address income volatility.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Minimum Income Standard outpaces Minimum Wage

via TAEN Site news. on 7/9/10

Updated research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has shown that it is getting harder for people on low incomes to meet a minimum standard of living.
The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) shows how much various households need in 2010 to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living, according to sample groups comprising members of the public.

The research (PDF 27pp) found that a yearly salary of £14,400 is the minimum a single person needs to achieve an acceptable standard of living; a couple with two children require a MIS of £26,900, far exceeding the adult national minimum wage of £5.80 per hour (equivalent to £10,556 for a single person).

TAEN post in full

Cognitive styles and search engine preferences: ...

Field dependence/independence vs holism/serialism

an article by Natalie Clewley, Sherry Y Chen and Xiaohui Liu published in Journal of Documentation Volume 66 Issue 4 (2010)

Cognitive style has been identified to be significantly influential in deciding users’ preferences of search engines. In particular, Witkin’s field dependence/independence has been widely studied in the area of web searching. It has been suggested that this cognitive style has conceptual links with the holism/serialism. This study aims to investigate the differences between the field dependence/independence and holism/serialism.
An empirical study was conducted with 120 students from a UK university. Riding’s cognitive style analysis (CSA) and Ford’s study preference questionnaire (SPQ) were used to identify the students’ cognitive styles. A questionnaire was designed to identify users’ preferences for the design of search engines. Data mining techniques were applied to analyse the data obtained from the empirical study.
The results highlight three findings. First, a fundamental link is confirmed between the two cognitive styles. Second, the relationship between field dependent users and holists is suggested to be more prominent than that of field independent users and serialists. Third, the interface design preferences of field dependent and field independent users can be split more clearly than those of holists and serialists.
The contributions of this study include a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between field dependence/independence and holists/serialists as well as proposing a novel methodology for data analyses.

Have careers become boundaryless?

an article by Ricardo A Rodrigues (King’s College, London and University of Coimbra, Portugal) and David Guest (King’s College, London) published in Human Relations Volume 63 Issue 8 (August 2010)

The idea the boundaryless career has recently permeated the careers literature. However, critics have claimed that the concept is fuzzy and difficult to operationalise. Moreover, one of the core assumptions, namely the collapse of traditional organisational careers allied to increasing mobility across organisational boundaries, has rarely been seriously analysed in the careers literature. This article aims to take forward the analysis of the boundaryless career concept in two ways.
First, we discuss its conceptual and operational problems. We argue that the current debate, focused on the permeability of organisational boundaries, fails fully to address the complexity of contemporary careers.
Second, we integrate contributions from labour economics on job stability to argue that the assumption of the collapse of the traditional career model is not supported by the evidence.
In our conclusions, we draw on boundary theory to outline the potential of a different approach to the conceptualisation of career boundaries.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Technological change and employer-provided training: ...

evidence from UK workplaces

an article by Ardiana N Gashi, Geoff Pugh and Nick Adnett published in International Journal of Manpower Volume 31 Issue 4 (2010)

This paper sets out to examine the link between technological change and continuing training at a workplace level.
The paper hypothesises that workplaces subject to technological change have an increased demand for skills, which induces an increased provision of training. UK data from two waves (1998 and 2004) of the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) are used to investigate this hypothesis.
Workplaces undertaking technological change are more likely to train their workers and also to provide more days of training per worker. Team working is also associated with a greater number of days spent on training, as are the setting of training targets and the keeping of training records. Training intensity decreases with an increasing share of part-time and manual employees. Conversely, where workplaces face difficulties in filling skilled vacancies, they provide more days of training.
Research limitations/implications
The WERS training questions refer only to core experienced employees which, since this group may vary from one workplace to another, may not give a completely consistent measure of either absolute or relative training provision. Because the WERS panel (1998 and 2004) excludes both the dependent variable (training intensity) and the variable of interest (technical change), the analysis is restricted to cross-section estimation. Causal implications of this analysis should be regarded as correspondingly tentative.
Practical implications
The findings suggest that one way to induce firms to provide more training is by enhanced incentives for firms to undertake more rapid technological change. In addition, if the current global economic downturn persists, evidence that operating in a declining market is associated with the provision of fewer training days may be of particular concern to training professionals and policy makers.
The paper provides empirical evidence concerning the interaction between technological change and training.

Pathways to Employment: ...

The influence of employers policy and practice on retirement decisions

A Research Report (No 673) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by Gareth Morrell and Rosalind Tennant (National Centre for Social Research)

Introduction summary
The DWP commissioned a series of research studies to inform a review of the default retirement age (DRA) by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2010. This report forms part of this evidence base and presents the findings of research exploring the attitudes and experiences of individuals in relation to the effect of the employer on their retirement decision. The aim, of the research was to explore the impact of employer policy on a range of retirement experiences and to describe the implications of retirement pathways for how people feel about this key transition and for other aspects of their lives.

The various chapters cover:
  • Experiences of approaching retirement
  • Employer approaches and routes to retirement
  • Experiences of retiring before 65
  • Experiences of the “right to request”
  • Experiences of other employer approaches to retirement
  • Understanding the impact of employer practices on retirement decision-making
Read the full report (PDF 152pp)

Job market recovery stalls

via TAEN Site news

Recovery in the job market is stalling as demand for workers in the public and private sector falls according to the latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook report from the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and the accountants KPMG.
The survey of nearly 600 employers across all sectors of the economy found that recruitment intentions remain broadly stable. Just over two-thirds of the organisations are planning to recruit someone in the next three months. However, a third are expecting to cut the jobs .

Read the depressing news in full

Youth perceptions of suicide and help-seeking: ...

‘They'd think I was weak or “mental”’

an article by Cate Curtisa (Department of Psychology, Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand) published in Journal of Youth Studies (online 28 July 2010)

Youth suicide is an issue of international concern and the college population may have a considerably higher rate of suicidal behaviour than the general population, yet seeking help for suicidality is uncommon. This research sought to understand college students’ knowledge of suicidal behaviour and attitudes to help-seeking, in a New Zealand university. A mixed-method approach comprising a survey and interviews was utilised. Approximately one-fifth of participants had been suicidal, were aware of another student’s suicide and/or had supported a suicidal student. Some participants expressed willingness to seek help for another, but far fewer were willing to seek help for themselves. Key reasons for the latter include stigma and a perceived need for self-reliance. Participants expressed greater willingness to seek help for another if they were not a close friend.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Gender influences on career success outcomes

an article by Barbara Orser and Joanne Leck published in Gender in Management: An International Journal Volume 25 Issue 5 (2010)

Models of career success outcomes have specified that gender is one covariate, among many. Theoretical reasons why gender is better specified as a moderating variable are advanced. The purpose of this paper is to examine empirically how gender moderates that influence of personal and structural factors on objective (total compensation, and ascendency), and subjective (perceived success) career outcomes.
The research draws on a sample of 521 chief executive officers (CEOs), executives and managers. Multivariable (step-wise) linear regression was employed to examine simultaneously the influence of the predictor variables on career success outcomes.
Even after controlling for explanatory influences on career success, gender influences remained. Gender moderated the predictive influence of international experience on compensation, ascendancy, and perceived success. The findings also illustrate that career development models should be situated by (private versus public) sector and specify systemic gender differences in career success outcomes.
Research limitations/implications
The survey response rate was problematic. A response rate of 9 percent was lower than ideal. In this context, scholars note low-response rates in mail surveys targeted at senior executives and CEOs. The attending limitation of self-report responses and retrospective perceptions are also acknowledged.
Practical implications
The findings alert women about the importance of career preparation (role investment), such as graduate education and international experience, key credentials to executive-level advancement. Women executives are also encouraged to seek clarification about compensation relative to their male counterparts.
Most studies about career success are mute with respect to how gender moderates the strength of personal and structural predictors on career outcomes. Given evidence about gender differences in how managers perceive success, examination about the influence of gender on subjective career outcomes is also warranted. Finally, the preponderance of studies about women's career experiences are based on American samples and/or sectors such as high-tech. Public and service-based industries, sectors historically populated with women, are often excluded from research. This work addresses the need for generalisation by drawing on a cross sector of Canadian managers, executives, and CEOs.

OECD Employment Outlook 2010

Moving beyond the Jobs Crisis

OECD's annual report on employment and labour markets. This edition includes articles on Moving Beyond the Jobs Crisis, The Global Crisis in Emerging Economies, Institutional and Policy Determinants of Labour Market Flows, and Part-Time Work.

Now available from the Online Bookshop
OECD Publishing
Version: Print (Paperback) + Free PDF
Price: £72 Standard shipping included

An ontological modelling of user requirements for personalised information provision

an article by Lily Sun, Khadidjatou Ousmanou and Matthew Cross published in Information Systems Frontiers Volume 12 Number 3 (2010)

The knowledge economy offers opportunity to a broad and diverse community of information systems users to efficiently gain information and know-how for improving qualifications and enhancing productivity in the workplace. Such demand will continue and users will frequently require optimised and personalised information content. The advancement of information technology and the wide dissemination of information endorse individual users when constructing new knowledge from their experience in the real-world context. However, a design of personalised information provision is challenging because users’ requirements and information provision specifications are complex in their representation. The existing methods are not able to effectively support this analysis process. This paper presents a mechanism which can holistically facilitate customisation of information provision based on individual users’ goals, level of knowledge and cognitive styles preferences. An ontology model with embedded norms represents the domain knowledge of information provision in a specific context where users’ needs can be articulated and represented in a user profile. These formal requirements can then be transformed onto information provision specifications which are used to discover suitable information content from repositories and pedagogically organise the selected content to meet the users’ needs. The method is provided with adaptability which enables an appropriate response to changes in users’ requirements during the process of acquiring knowledge and skills.
Hazel’s comment:
To my rather simple brain this sounds like a step too far but who knows? Maybe it really is possible to develop a system which allows for real personalisation. Perhaps those readers who are “real” librarians / information researchers would like to comment?

Starting a new career at 60

via Entrepreneurial by Reuters Staff

The following is an interesting guest post on Entrepreneurial by Marci Alboher, vice president at Civic Ventures, a think tank making it easier for millions to find encore careers with personal meaning and social impact. This is part of the kickoff to a series on social entrepreneurship. The views expressed are the author's own.

Yes, it is American but that does not, at least in this instance, make it irrelevant.
OUCH! I’m not saying that American views are irrelevant but that business and education are very different the other side of the Atlantic and that, therefore, many of the careers articles become irrelevant to UK readers.

Mark Goldsmith created Getting Out and Staying Out, a program that reduces the recidivism rate of young men released from prisons and jails.

Elaine Santore founded Umbrella of the Capital District, a service that pairs retired handy people with aging homeowners who need help with small home repairs.

Adele Douglass created Humane Farm Animal Care, the nation's first programme to certify that farming practices are humane from birth to slaughter.

They are all social entrepreneurs – creative, inventive, enterprising individuals who bring their talent and passion to solving the problems of our day – and they are all over the age of 55.

Read the full post on Reuters blog

Educational relationships in out-of-school-time activities: ...

are children in poverty missing out again?

an article by Kate Bullock, Yolande Muschamp, Tess Ridge and Felicity Wikeley (University of Bath) published in Education, Citizenship and Social Justice Volume 5 Number 2 (July 2010)

Poverty may be the major obstacle to positive life chances in the UK. Ennals and Murphy (2005) suggest that escape from the poverty trap is more likely for those who remain in education after the age of 16. However, school life may bring problems for children from low-income families, with learning assuming a lower priority than social acceptance (Ridge, 2005). This article argues that young people in poverty are also less likely to participate in other learning activities. The nature of learning in out-of-school-time settings is explored and the distinctive features of the educational relationships that underpin out-of-school-time learning are discussed. We conclude that children from disadvantaged backgrounds who have acquired an understanding of educational relationships are more likely to develop positive attitudes to learning. Strategies to redress the added disadvantage that non-participation in leisure activities creates for young people in low-income families are suggested.

European Union Labour Force Survey

Annual results 2009 – Issue number 35/2010
via Eurostat Statistics in focus

This publication presents annual averages of the main results of the EU Labour Force Survey for the EU-27 and for all Member States.

Indicators presented in this publication are:

  • employment rates
  • part-time employment as share of total employment
  • number of employed people broken down by economic activity and by occupation of the main job
  • average of hours usually worked by week
  • percentage of employees with limited duration contract
  • unemployment rate
  • percentage of unemployed for one year and more
  • youth unemployment ratio
A PDF document (8pp of figures) and links to the main sources of EU data.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Is there still a need for gifted education?

An examination of current research

an article by Sally M Reis and Joseph S Renzullia (Neag School of Education, The University of Connecticut) published in Learning and Individual Differences Volume 20 Issue 4 (August 2010)

What recent research has been conducted about gifted and talented students and their learning experiences in school?
As we complete the first decade of the new century we are entering a time when much attention is focused on remediation and test preparation; it only seems appropriate to reflect upon what has been learned about gifted education during the last few decades and consider the compelling evidence that may or may not support special services for gifted and talented. Consensus on which research themes and studies should be included in this type of examination were difficult to reach, but we have identified six important themes that are discussed in the article. This review of research strongly suggests that the need for gifted education programmes remains critical during the current time period in American education when our nation’s creative productivity is being challenged by European and Asian nations.

Investigating the Properties of a Social Bookmarking and Tagging Network

an article by Ralitsa Angelova (Max Planck Institut für Informatik, Germany) and Marek Lipczak, Evangelos Milios and Pawel Pralat (Dalhousie University, Canada) published in International Journal of Data Warehousing and Mining Volume 6 Issue 1 (2010)


Social networks and collaborative tagging systems are rapidly gaining popularity as a primary means for storing and sharing data among friends, family, colleagues, or perfect strangers as long as they have common interests. del.icio.us is a social network where people store and share their personal bookmarks. Most importantly, users tag their bookmarks for ease of information dissemination and later look up. However, it is the friendship links that make del.icio.us a social network. They exist independently of the set of bookmarks that belong to the users and have no relation to the tags typically assigned to the bookmarks. To study the interaction among users, the strength of the existing links and their hidden meaning, we introduce implicit links in the network. These links connect only highly “similar” users. Here, similarity can reflect different aspects of the user’s profile that makes her similar to any other user, such as number of shared bookmarks, or similarity of their tags clouds. The authors investigate the question whether friends have common interests, they gain additional insights on the strategies that users use to assign tags to their bookmarks, and they demonstrate that the graphs formed by implicit links have unique properties differing from binomial random graphs or random graphs with an expected power-law degree distribution.

Fancy a job at Google?

Urban myths of the interview process includes the following:

  1. Why are manhole covers round?
  2. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  3. How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
  4. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  5. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
  6. If you look at a clock and the time is 3.15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands? (The answer is not zero!)
  7. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
  8. Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for 17 minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it's only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in one minute, another in two, the third in five, and the slow poke takes 10 to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?
  9. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  10. You're the captain of a pirate ship, and your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty, but still survive?

blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com via guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited

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

Latest Hilarious Picks via MakeUseOf.com by Kaly
Firefox is Frozen … Literally (Pic)
Webdesign Clients (Video)
Computers Can Save You Time (Pic)
TubeTop – World's First Inflatable Laptop From Toshiba (Video)
The Evolution Of TV (Pic)

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
"The good mechanic knows how to take a car apart," says Neil Simon. "I love to take the human mind apart and see how it works"... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
It's a trillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, and you are in it up to your eyes. The U.S. government issues more and more debt to pay off previous debt. One day, we'll wake up... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Free trade and a never-ending exchange of ideas offers us an inexhaustible river of invention and discovery. Matt Ridley on wealth and growth... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Intelligence, self-possession, and a sense of maturity. If this be wisdom, will we learn more about it from literature and history, or from neuroscience?... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A perception of unfairness is a major driver of anger as a human emotion. It is not too far, David Barash suggests, to speak of our having a fairness instinct... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
You didn't intend to plagiarise. In fact, your unconscious did it. Sure. And try telling the cop your unconscious was speeding... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
How the British see themselves and the world is not easy to grasp. A good place to begin is to consider what the Second World War did to Britain... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Events of 1989 are often depicted as a failure of socialism. Though this powerful view has served to discredit alternatives to capitalism, it remains in doubt... more

via Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The human brain, for all its power, is quite suspicious of difficulty. Effective marketers, politicians, and sales people all know to keep it simple... more

Conceptualizing ‘precarious prosperity’: ...

Empirical and theoretical elements for debate

an article by Monica Budowski, Wiebke Keim and Michèle Amacker (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) and Robin Tillmann (Centre of Expertise in Social Sciences (FORS), Switzerland) published in International Journal of comparative Sociology Volume 51 Issue 4 (August 2010)

Empirical studies have recently pointed towards a socio-structural category largely overlooked in social inequality research: the dynamic positions of households adjacent to those of the poor and yet not representing those of the established, more prosperous positions in society. These results suggest that the population in this category fluctuates into and out of poverty more often than moving into and out of secure prosperity. This category – still lacking theoretical conceptualisation – is characterised by both precariousness and a certain degree of prosperity; despite a restricted and uncertain living standard it holds a range of opportunities for action. We seek analytical elements to conceptualise ‘precarious prosperity’ for comparative empirical research by subjecting various concepts of social inequality research to critical scrutiny. We then operationally define ‘precarious prosperity’ to screen for this population in three countries. Based on qualitative interviews with households in precarious prosperity, we present first analyses of perceptions and household strategies that underline the relevance of the concept in different countries.

Hazel’s comment:
This is an interesting view of inequality – that those on the edge of poverty cross the line into and out of prosperity with a regularity that makes the prosperity precarious and short-lived. The concept implies that an increase in income has allowed some clearing of debt and possible increase in living standards which then results in falling below the poverty line again.

Information risk management

Well, what do you know about it?

What do I know about it?

I don’t know the answer to the first question. How could I? I don’t know who you are in any detail and I have not asked you this question previously.

The answer to the next question is, “considerably more than I did an hour ago before I started reading Bulletin: of the records management society (Issue 156 (July 2010)).

And, what is more important, I know who knows lots more than I do and where to find him. Interestingly, from my point of view, is that not only can I find Robin Smith from his email address but could after a short bus ride from home search out the physical Mr Smith at his place of work.

That aside, the article about information risk management is an edited extract of Robin's new publication, Information risk management: valuing, protecting and leveraging business information, which is available from the Ark Group.

Table of contents and an executive summary (PDF 6pp) is available

Full publication
Amazon price £295 (free p&p but none in stock)
Same price from the publishers but p&p = £7.50

Sorry, but with the best will in the world I cannot recommend that any small business should purchase a book that costs that much!

Cuts are fatal for jobs and society, says Scottish TUC

With labour market statistics published this morning set to show another rise in overall and long-term unemployment, and growth in Scotland estimated to be zero during the first quarter of 2010, the Scottish Trades Union Congress is renewing its call for the government to end its policy of immediate and deep cuts in public spending.

The number of 18-24 year olds claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) for over 6 months has increased in 20 of Scotland’s local authorities since last year and fallen in only 7 according to a TUC analysis published ahead of the latest ONS unemployment statistics.

Full story

Thanks to Ekklesia.co.uk Daily Email Bulletin on 10th August

Hazel’s comment:

Ekklesia is an independent, not-for-profit think-tank which examines the role of religion in public life and advocates transformative theological ideas and solutions. It also looks at the operation of beliefs and values in society and politics more widely.

Whilst the word Ekklesia (or ecclesia) is primarily associated with the Christian church the organisation itself is concerned with society as a whole and the place that faith (or the lack of it) has in that society.

And, like most not-for-profit organisations, Ekklesia could do with some financial support!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Carer's Credit

People who provide care for one or more disabled people for a total of 20 hours or more each week, and who do not receive Carer’s Allowance, can now claim a Carer’s Credit. The credit will help to protect a carer’s National Insurance record to ensure there are no gaps from having to undertake caring responsibilities.

Details and guidance can be found on the DWP website at http://tinyurl.com/y4qzx68

Grateful thanks to Adviser from Citizens Advice.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Local Area Labour Markets statistics

via The Scottish Government News Online - Latest on 28 July
A National Statistics Publication for Scotland

Scotland's Chief Statistician today published statistics from the Annual Population Survey (APS).
The APS is an annual version of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the official source of many labour market and lifelong learning indicators for Scotland and its local authority areas. The publication provides a summary of data covering key indicators such as employment rates, unemployment rates, rates of young people not in education, employment or training and qualification breakdowns.

Read the full press release together with links to the data

Has been missing – now found

What have I found?

Why, lots and lots of saved emails sent to the Blogger drafts folder.

Obviously the news items that were in the very long list are no longer news and have been deleted but the fun, trivia and interesting non-work items that have accumulated while I’ve been “away” are, in the main, still fun, trivia or interesting but there’s a lot of them so I must bring you at least two a week for quite a while in order to reduce the backlog.