Friday, May 27, 2011

Why pay when you can get qualified people to work for free?

Reading that a third of the government’s Graduate Talent Pool’s internships are unpaid, I can’t help but not feeling surprised. Like this bit:

But there have been criticisms over how internships can be misused as unpaid labour by some employers - and warnings about the need for them to comply with the minimum-wage regulations.

This was essentially the major flaw in the radio training that I did a few years ago.

One and a half years of study, then a six month internship and at least 70% of the class would be guaranteed a job in the commercial radio industry after graduation. That 70% was the purpose of the qualified professional training programme (Kvalificerad Yrkesutbildning, KY), and programmes with lower employment rates wouldn’t be allowed to continue.

Or at least that’s what we were told as we applied.

Once we started, we quickly learned that there was no money in the business in Sweden and the commercial radio stations – our future employers – were in fact in no position whatsoever to give us any jobs. They had always been broke, even from the start, and it didn’t look as if it was going to change anytime soon.

We did have that six month internship, though …

Which, in effect, meant that the commercial radio stations around Sweden had qualified people working for them for six months a year without them having to spend a penny on salaries. After that time, they weren’t obliged to keep any of us on, unless of course they’d be worse off without us. Then six months business as usual, and then there would be the next batch of fresh-faced and well-trained radio enthusiasts working for nothing, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they’d made enough of an impression to have a job offer at the end of it.

I was in the seventh year of this educational programme. The year before us were apparently surprised the school advertised for new students (i.e. us), we were surprised when they advertised for our successors … and of course, so were the next lot. I don’t know how many years they managed to churn out qualified radio students to false hope and unemployment in the end, but last I heard about it was that they had cancelled the programme.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved doing the education and I loved working with radio. My six month internship was done with a local radio station to where my parents were, who wouldn’t have the money to keep me on anyway. Not that I held my hopes up, but as it turned out, it allowed me to meet with the man I fell in love with and ended up marrying. So all’s well that ends well.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Best "Out of Office" reply EVER

This is a genuine Out of Office message I received the other day. Amongst all the humdrum "I'm on annual leave", "I'm in a meeting", "I'm away" and so on, this one popped up and took me by surprise and delight. Bask in the awesomeness of:

I have gone to another solar system for a couple of weeks, so due to a combination of distance, time-dilation effects and incompatible broadband services, I won't be able to read e-mails until I am back within the asteroid belt. I anticipate that this will be about the 6th of June (Earth time)

Please send any urgent queries to [deleted] who will hopefully be remaining on the planet

Next time I'm out of the office, I need to write something better than "I'm out of the office and I'm back (date)". The gauntlet has definitely been thrown.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Habitat and geography fail

Just read on BBC News that two liger cubs are nursed by a dog in China's Xixiakou Zoo. Awwww. However, this sentence really makes me stare at the screen and question the writer's sanity:

Ligers are extremely rare and are thought to only be born in captivity.

Well, duhhh?!

A liger, as the text points out before this line, is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. There's a bloody good reason why ligers can only be born (and indeed bred) in captivity, thereby making them extremely rare, is because lions live in Africa and tigers live in Asia. (There were Asian lions way back, apparently, but not exactly nowadays.) It's not as if the two species hang out in the wild on a regular basis and go to see each others' etchings ...

Friday, May 20, 2011

You won't get your money back, you had it coming

The world’s coming to an end, starting this Saturday - or "tomorrow" for short. Or so says some random nutter in the US of whom I read on the BBC News site. Don’t believe any of it personally, of course, but other people do, and one guy has found a way to help the pets of those people who do:

An atheist and entrepreneur from North Hampshire, Bart Centre, is enjoying a boost in business for Eternal Earth-bound Pets, which he set up to look after the pets of those who believe they will be raptured.
He has more than 250 clients who are paying up to $135 (£83) to have their pets picked up and cared for after the rapture.
They would be disappointed twice, he told the Wall Street Journal. "Once because they weren't raptured and again because I don't do refunds."

Have to hand it to him. Great business idea and he has put thought into caring for the animals, which is always a plus in my book. The best part is that he doesn’t plan on giving any money back, which made me giggle. And no, I don’t think he’s exploiting anyone. Clever bugger.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Queen's Speech

The Queen is in Ireland - first time a British monarch has set foot there for a century, and first time she's been to the Republic.

Of course the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign.

Understatement of the century.

An apology was not expected, BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said, but the Queen came "pretty close".

I actually had a dream about this visit the other night. I believe the words "should bloody apologise!" were uttered. Her speech seems to have gone down well, according to the BBC, but I feel very ambivalent about her visit.

Building bridges is good. At the same time, visiting Croke Park ... a massacre of innocent people by the British ... it rubs me the wrong way. She's the head of a commonwealth that kept Ireland enslaved for over half a millennia and just because they finally let (most of) Ireland become independent in 1949, suddenly everything's okay, business as usual, forget it ever happened? Sod that. An apology would've been appreciated. Really.


Reference: Read a transcript of the Queen's speech