Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A truly pathetic British university

Backed down after ridicule

Graduates at a top UK university have been banned from throwing their mortarboards in the air over fears the falling hats could cause injuries.

Students at the University of Birmingham have been told they are not allowed to throw their black caps in the air in celebration because of health and safety concerns.

Those set to graduate later this summer have been told they could be ejected from the ceremony if they are seen following the tradition.

In an email, students were told: 'Throwing of caps is not to be permitted, due to health and safety.'

Speaking to student newspaper The Tab, Hannah Walker said: 'It's just surprising the uni is actively taking action against something that's traditional.  'I personally don't see the harm in it, and honestly don't think anyone will take the ban seriously.'

Gown and cap graduation rental company Ede and Ravenscroft said the ban was because a number of injuries had occurred in the past.  A spokesperson said: 'Over a number of years students have been injured by falling mortarboards.  'On a few occasions customers experienced minor injuries from falling mortarboards.  'We have therefore identified the throwing of hats as a risk to health and safety.

'As a responsible company we don't want to condone any activity which could lead to someone being injured.'

The university defended the decision, saying that the rule barring students from throwing their caps applied only to an event for graduating Classics students.

A spokesperson said: 'The email in question does not refer to our formal graduation ceremonies but concerned a specific private event where space was restricted.

'The University of Birmingham does not have a policy or ban on cap throwing during degree congregations.

'We recognise that this is a time of celebration for our students and their families after years of hard work and dedication and want to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time.'


Teachers endorse Hillary

 The executive council of the American Federation of Teachers voted on Saturday to endorse Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

The vote was overwhelming, according to a press release sent to The Daily Caller this weekend.

“In vision, in experience and in leadership, Hillary Clinton is the champion working families need in the White House,” the teachers union’s president, Randi Weingarten, said of Clinton, a resident of Chappaqua, N.Y. and who’s worth as much as $50 million.

Weingarten, a frequent critic of economic inequality, makes at least $360,000 per year — possibly much more. This salary puts her squarely in the top one percent of all Americans.


Generation unprepared: The Australian school and university leavers with ‘no skills to work at all’

OVER the past 18 months, Queensland mining employer Jack Trenamen has developed a formula that helps him predict the performance of his new apprentices.  The country kids who have worked on mum and dad’s farm from a young age will work hard and appreciate every dollar they get. “You can’t fault ‘em on work ethic,” he says, adding that it shows in their performance.

But the ones who come from more affluent areas, whether that be from the big cities where their parents are a bit more well off and happy to give them pocket money, or mining regions where jobs are available and salaries are competitive, are more difficult to engage. They’re also less likely to agree to get their hands dirty when it comes time to sweep the shed.

The contracting boss has seen exceptions, of course, but he’s also noted strong trends, and what he’s picked up is in line with the bigger picture — the grim picture that’s emerging of a generation of newcomers to the workforce unprepared for work.

“I’ve had countless experiences with kids who are just not ready,” he says.  “They haven’t picked up the skills that you learn by working and that’s often because they haven’t had to.  “They come in late, they don’t realise that they might have to do things they don’t want to, and they don’t appreciate the job. They think if they don’t like it here they can just pack up and get another job around the corner, keep chasing that almighty dollar without building their skills.”

Mr Trenamen might sound like another disgruntled boss whining about “kids these days”, but what he’s picked up is reflected in national trends.

Australian Bureau of Statistics show that school and university students are less likely to pick up part time work while they’re studying with only 31 per cent of 15 to 19-year-old students employed.

The figures are unsurprising to Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Kate Carnell, who tells she could have predicted the findings based on conversations with employers like Jack.

She says while on paper young employees are more qualified than ever before, 20-somethings are showing up to work with degrees from universities that are “disconnected with the workforce”, and a lack of workplace experience.

“A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ,” she says.

“General issues are not understanding that a job is about turning up on time every day, not just when you feel like, that it’s about taking direction, and basic things like you’ve got to be well presented and you’ve got to be pleasant.

“The number of young people not working while they’re in school is one of the problems.”

Ms Carnell says the declining need for kids to work is a symptom of a largely more affluent society, and while it offers young people the luxury of focusing on their studies, it also deprives them of the skills they will pick up in the work force before they take up a full time role.

Another part of the problem, Ms Carnell says, isn’t just a lack of enthusiasm for kids to get a job down at the local takeaway or supermarket, but parents encouraging them not to while they focus on their studies.

As well as the lack of work experience young employees bring to their career-starting roles, bosses are also quick to point the finger at the education system.

Mr Trenamen suggests schools teach workplace skills from year 10, and encourage kids to get into the workforce. It’s an argument Professor Johanna Wyn, director of the Youth Research Centre at the University of Melbourne has heard before.

While she believes there is a disconnect between what kids are learning at school, university and TAFE and “the real world”, she says it’s unfair to put pressure on educational institutions to be “all things to all people”.  “It’s not that the universities are teaching the wrong thing, but more that young people are encouraged to get an education, follow that to a job they believe they want to do, and the assumption that it’s going to be an automatic match with what’s required in the labour market,” Professor Wyn says.

“It would be fabulous if young people were gaining really strong skills that they should be learning, but it’s really hard for educators to catch up. Instead of turning it around and blaming schools, we should look at other path ways. “There are some really good models of how communities can wrap more around schools and bring educators and employers together.”

Brett Schimming is the CEO of Construction Skills Queensland, an industry body that works with schools and young career seekers together with employers providing skilling programs to bridge that gap and equip kids to get in to jobs.

“What we do know is that if you simply are going to employ a young person and expect them to know what to do on day one, you are more than likely not going to have success and it doesn’t end well for anyone,” he says.

“We’ve learnt that it’s 50/50 in terms of effort, so we like to increase the chances of matching the right people to the right jobs, and matching people who are each willing to give their 50 per cent and work together.”

The key thing small businesses are looking for is that attitude and they get challenged by how best to find that person because they’ve had experience where they’ve hired people and it hasn’t worked out.”

Apprenticeship Support Australia, which covers the recruitment of more than 300,000 apprentices, is another group trying to meet businesses and new workers halfway.

Last month the federal government-funded group announced a “job-fit test” that would gauge Gen Y job seekers’ work ethic, skills and job readiness before they are approved for an apprenticeship.  The performance test was devised in response to the drop out rate of apprentices falling to a shocking 50 per cent, the Herald Sun reported.

So there are programs that help, and employers, educators and industry bodies alike believe there should be more, but back at ACCI Ms Carnell says the simplest way to learn skills is for young people to get into the work force as soon as they can.

“Young people are always conscious of the reputation their generation has, and they should work to break that,” she says.
“It really, really makes a difference as an employer if you get a CV from a young person and see they’ve been employed during school or university. It’s a huge tick.”


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