EXCEL CAREERS FAIR: Arrives at Newham’s ExCel centre

London – VIJAY SHAH via TOM HORTON and Newham Recorder

The UK’s largest careers fair has made its way to the ExCel centre in Newham, east London this weekend, attracting around 30,000 visitors to the Custom House area in search of new and exciting employment opportunities, local newspaper the Newham Recorder reported on Thursday.


Skills London 2017 is geared towards young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and is hosted by London First and Prospects, and is supported by the office of the Mayor of London and the National Careers Service. The event will feature a selection of interactive activities and inspirational careers options for youngsters looking for their future career choice or to enter a new line of work.

The event is open to students, teachers, career advisors and jobseekers, with an astonishing 40,000 jobs on offer from 200 exhibitors from the fields of education, leading employers, training courses and job experts. Companies such as Google, Heathrow Airport and the supermarket chain Tesco and others will be on hand to offer careers advice and guidance.

Skills London is now in its tenth year and has been lauded for its high levels of interactivity and engagement with its target audience in a fun and inspiring atmosphere. Speaking to the Recorder on the fair, Jasmine Whitbread, the chief executive of London First, said: “London’s leading employers are stepping up to help young people make the most of their potential.”

The staging of the event in one of London’s lowest ranking areas for youth employment is also a sign of the recovery of the British economy after the 2008 financial crash which saw young people bear the brunt of job losses and a decline in opportunities.

Skills London 2017 takes place over 24-25 November from 9.30am to 4.00pm. Entry is free.


Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/Newham.Recorder/

“UK’s largest careers fair expected to bring 30,000 to the ExCel over the next two days” – Tom Horton, Newham Recorder/Archant (23 November 2017) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/uk-s-largest-careers-fair-expected-to-bring-30-000-to-the-excel-over-the-next-two-days-1-5293496

“Skills London 2017 – ExCeL London 24 & 25 November 2017” – skills London 2017/Skills London http://www.skillslondon.co.uk/Home.aspx

“About”- skills London 2017/Skills London http://www.skillslondon.co.uk/About.aspx


“Youth on the Move – Skills London” – DG EMPL, Flickr (22 November 2014) https://www.flickr.com/photos/socialeurope/15861149125



WORKPLACE PENSIONS: Advice and information from the DWP

Since October 2012, all British workplaces have been required to offer a ‘workplace pension’ to all their permanent employees. The rule was first applied to large companies, but now all employers, even those run by one person with one staff member, must have pension provisions in place by law. Until then, employers varied wildly in their pensions packages or whether they even offered them.

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions, in collaboration with the Pensions Regulator have a useful website which aims to demystify the regulations surrounding compulsory pension schemes, a scheme known officially as ‘Automatic Enrollment’. As millions of people now have workplace pensions that both they and their employer pay into, the website explains to businesses how this will affect them, their businesses and their clients’ businesses.

Even if a company has only a single employee, that employee still needs to have a pension to help secure their staff’s income post-retirement. This includes cleaners, nannies, PAs and other personal care assistants. Employers are defined by the DWP as those who pay wages and deduct tax and National Insurance contributions from their salaries. If a company employs agency staff however, then responsibility for automatic enrolment lies with the agency, not the company using the workers. So far, around 79,000 employers have already signed up.

So far, 5.4 million employees have already been automatically enrolled, where they will see their pensions topped up by the employer and get these contributions paid into their pension pot tax free. The employee also benefits as this means they can start saving for retirement early. The earlier someone starts putting money aside for their later years, the better financial circumstances they will have when that time comes. Until AE was phased in, many employees had no pension plan put in place, which would have meant them relying on the basic State Pension. Many companies simply did not offer pensions, and many workers had not given any thought to what would happen once they no longer need to work. Employees who have retirement plans already in place or who do not plan to retire in the UK, for example, can opt out of the pension scheme if they wish. Under the scheme, employees can only be enrolled if they are not now with a pension, are aged between 22 and the ‘state pension age’ (65 for men and women currently) and work in Britain on a salary of £10,000 or more a year.

Using the catchy hashtag #DontIgnoreIt, the DWP and the Pensions Regulator are promoting the site with the help of a brightly coloured and furry mascot named Workie, a ‘larger-than-life’ character created to help remind employers of their pension responsibilities. The site also features a video starring millionaire businessman and panel member of the Dragon’s Den show Theo Paphitis, explaining the benefits of workplace pensions for employees.

The website is available at: www.workplacepensions.gov.uk

“HEM Businesses” – The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-businesses
DWP, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/DWP
“Workplace Pensions” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/?utm_source=Social%20media&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=TPRAEE102015
“Employers” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/employer/
“Employees” – Department for Work and Pensions and Pensions Regulator http://www.workplacepensions.gov.uk/employee/
Getty Images via Zemanta.

HUMOUR MOMENT: The dog and the donkey

with Noor Malick Akbarali (contributor)

Today’s Humour Moment comes from a submission volunteered by my friend and colleague Noor. He works with me at our events and conferences company based in Euston, London. He originally comes from India and is a graduate in computer sciences and engineering from the University of Madras, in the south Indian city of Chennai. He speaks fluent Tamil and is a big fan of cats. He is also a technological whizzkid and once hacked into his Farmville account on a social media site and awarded himself $2 million. I have known him for around five years, since his branch of the department I currently work in relocated from their old offices in Oxford Circus, also in London, and merged with my division. He is an awesome friend, always smiling and yet still working as hard as ever. I dedicate this article to him. He loves to tell and share jokes…although granted some of them are not really to my taste, he certainly knows how to tickle a funnybone.

This Humour Moment is a lightly amusing story of a washer man and his dog and donkey. One night the animal duo are confronted by a thief while their owner is sleeping. There is a valuable lesson in the story which might be applicable to certain employees and their managers in the working world.

(c) werner22brigitte
(c) werner22brigitte

A washer man had a dog and a donkey.

One night when the washer man and his family was sleeping the dog and donkey happened to be awake, when a thief managed to sneak in.

The dog decided not to bark as he thought that the washer man was not taking due care of him anyway and this was his perfect chance to teach his master a lesson.

The donkey, indefatigably loyal to the master, could not remain a mute spectator to the thief’s arrival and advised the dog to bark, but the dog wouldn’t. The dog refused to change his mind and insisted that he would not make even a whimper as the master was not treating him well and this was the right time to take revenge on the master.

The donkey soon realised that he had to do something about this himself and started braying. This made the thief flee the house in fright however it woke up the washer man and his family.

The master did not find any reason for the donkey to be braying in the middle of the night and hence started telling off the donkey.

Moral of the story: One must not engage in duties other than his own


Another Version of the Story:

The washer man is an MBA graduate from a premium management school. He wants to investigate the reason behind the braying of the donkey as it seemed very unusual to him.

He finds some footprints and concludes that there was an intruder, probably a thief. Satisfied with his investigations, the washer man rewards the donkey with some lush green hay in gratitude.

Life does not change much for the dog, but now the washer man starts liking the donkey more and starts expecting more from him in exchange of further gifts of green hey which keeps enticing the donkey into being more responsible. The washer man starts giving the donkey some more tasks, thus increasing his burden of work.

The days pass on and the donkey one day discovers that he is doing most of the tasks for the washer man whereas the dog is just lazing around. But now he couldn’t really complain because he has to maintain his rank of being the best and favoured of all the washer man’s pets.

The donkey is now known to be thinking of quitting the washer man’s duties and relocating to the local animal shelter…

(story adapted for publishing by Vijay Shah)


Noor Malick’s Facebook page.
Creative Commons CC Search http://search.creativecommons.org/
werner22brigitte, Pixabay (20 May 2010) http://pixabay.com/en/donkey-bernese-mountain-dog-canine-53286/

FLEXIOFFICES: The UK’s most hated office personalities

Wander past the reception into any office in the United Kingdom or indeed anywhere else you fancy, and just as Sir David Attenborough might steathily and subtly observe different species of wildlife on the African savannah, you will soon notice from being hidden surreptitiously behind that large pot plant that just like animals, there are different species of office worker; the busybody, with an ‘in’ tray as high as Mount Everest; the chatterboxes, constantly talking on the phone or to anyone within earshot (and lack of an escape route) and the quiet ones; who wish their wage packet was as golden as their silence. Others cling to the boss’ every word, eager for that golden hello and promotion. While others drone on and on about this and that. From accounts to sales and marketing, every office and department is bound to have a motley crew of different personality types, some more beneficial than others, especially when it comes to those all-important office preserves, teamwork, training new starters and the handling of big projects.

Flexioffices, an expert agency which prides itself on offering serviced office spaces to companies across the UK, has recently commissioned a fun, tongue-in-cheek nationwide survey of over 1,500 people to find out which kind of personality people most hate being stuck with when it is their turn at the water cooler. If you are curious as to what kind of office worker is most likely to induce lethal cubicle rage in their long-suffering colleagues, then the results are now in.

English: An office worker with a dual-monitor ...
English: An office worker with a dual-monitor display and a Cisco 7971 Color Touchscreen IP phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Number 1 – ‘The Office Know-it-all

Around 35% of the surveyed people named the Office Know-it-all as their most hated personality, making it indeed the most hated type of office worker in the United Kingdom. This is the kind of person who (thinks) they know everything about everything. They might be useful if you have trouble getting the scanner/photocopier/printer thingamabob to work, but they also are blatant brown-nosers and have to jump into every conversation going with their not exactly needed or wanted opinions. Their fellow office workers soon rapidly tire of their useless encyclopaedic knowledge and their inflated sense of self-superiority. The ‘Know-it-all’ particularly irks people nearing retirement age and workers from Wales. If you are one of these people, it is advised to either shut up or jump out.

Number 2 – ‘The Office Slacker’

This is the man or woman whom you can say without a doubt spends their evenings sprawled in their underclothes among tonnes of pizza boxes and polystyrene containers that still smell of last month’s ‘kebab-athon’. They barely seem to have the will to even lift said pizza into their mouth at times. While what people do at home generally does not follow them to the workplace, the Office Slacker is laziness personified, 24/7, day in, day out, come rain or shine. The Slacker is that annoying type that sits back and lets everyone else, well, pick up the slack. They generally make little headway in team projects and are content to do minimal work, while still taking the credit. According to the survey it seems no-one likes a lazy colleague, most notably Londoners, who rank ‘The Office Slacker’ as the personality type they dislike working with the most. With 32% of the votes, here’s a message for work-shy individuals across the nation – it’s either time to change your attitude, or cross London off your ‘ideal places to work’ list.

Number 3 – ‘The Office Suck-up’

This is the worker who is practically the manager’s second shadow. A brown-noser of sheer excellence, they are the manager’s dream yes-man or yes-woman. No matter how diabolical the manager’s pipedream, they always agree with every little detail. The ‘Office Suck-Up’ is not the most trustworthy of colleagues. Do one thing wrong, no matter how insignificant and the Suck-Up will memorise every little detail of all your little transgressions and regurgitate it straight into the crop of the Big Boss. This is the grown-up, corporate version of the playground tittle-tattle. The walls have ears. The Flexioffices survey results suggest ‘The Office Suck-up’ received 17% of the overall votes, with the good people of the North East and Scotland particularly unimpressed with colleagues who try to worm their way to the top.

Number 4 – ‘The Office Tight-arse’

Anal retentiveness is a sport that should be entered into the Olympics. Why? Because if it did, the ‘Office Tight-arse’ would win every gold medal going for Team GB. This is the sort of person who turns into the Incredible Hulk the moment you help yourself to one measly paper clip from their desk’s bits-and-bobs. They scrupulously note down the quantity of every pack of Belvita or box of Earl Grey teabags they buy in their lunch break. Do not under any circumstance even think to ask for a spare croissant, you will feel the Fury! Nevertheless, in these belt-tightening times of austerity, it seems people have some sympathy for the ‘Office Tight-arse’, as this was the most hated office personality of a paltry 8% of surveyed participants. So maybe being a little bit of a Scrooge is not so bad. Either way, if you happen to be a corporate butt-clencher, it’s probably best to steer clear of people in the West Midlands, who expect their colleagues to display the utmost generosity and goodwill at all times. Sharing is caring.

Number 5 – ‘The Office Joker’

This is the cheeky chap/chapette that has a chuckle about anything. They love hiding your favourite mug when you run off to the bathroom. They offer you a panini for a snack, only you find it has been laced with extra hot tabasco sauce. Always grinning like the Cheshire Cat of old folklore, they fill the air with their colleagues laughter, but sometimes they can seriously reduce the seriousness of a nine-to-five and there comes a point where you really need to file that sales report for the first quarter of 2014, and you cannot concentrate because the office Michael McIntyre has made you giggle yourself into a painful cramp all around your sides. Offices can be dreary and stressful places though, and people do appreciate a laugh every now and then, which is why the Flexioffices survey found that only 7% of people find the Office Joker a joke too far. Being the office joker can help to raise morale in the team, however we all know that one person who can take their Chuckle Brothers re-enactment a tad too far. If you’re looking for an audience for your pranks and jokes, then 35-44 year old men in London are not a good place to start!

(c) B. Dimmick/Flickr/Compfight

Flexioffices are also offering a quiz that office workers can answer to see which type of personality they are. We have reproduced it here, so now Brainiacs can find out whether they are an office legend or a pain in the orifice.


Now it’s your turn – take our quick scenario quiz below and find out what type of office personality you are!

1. For you, the office water cooler is an opportunity to

A) Switch the hot and cold taps around and watch the chaos unfold

B) Tell everyone else in the office who’ll listen that they shouldn’t drink from it due to the dangers of bacteria in the water caused by gradual decomposition of the plastic container

C) Keep the boss hydrated to boost your chances of a promotion

D) Drink 10 glasses at a time. All those toilet breaks shave minutes off the working week

E) Decant the water into your own containers and take it home


2. A new bar opens near the office and a work night out has been arranged, do you?

A) Tell a couple of your colleagues that they have to wear a tuxedo to the night out and they must have missed the memo

B) Attend to humour others, but you’ve already been twice yourself and read all the reviews. You know it’s terrible and can’t believe your colleagues would want to go there

C) Get to the bar before everyone else and buy the boss a drink. A little alcoholic lubrication goes a long way to earning that promotion

D) Use it as an opportunity to leave work early under the pretense of ‘saving everyone a stool at the bar’

E) Peek through the window outside the bar until you see the first round has been bought… then make your entrance


3. A new photocopier-printer has just been bought and installed in your office. Which of the following are you most likely to do?

A) Photocopy your backside

B) Comment that from your extensive research you know it isn’t the most robust model on the market and it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down

C) Tell the boss you’d be happy to monitor and report back on anyone using the photocopier-printer inappropriately. That promotion must be close now

D) Constantly open up the photocopier-printer to check on cartridge and paper levels. It’ll be home time before you know it!

E) Print your personal files and paperwork out at every opportunity


4. A young student is in the office on a week’s work experience, do you?

A) Tell them you’re all out of checkered paint and to go to the hardware shop and ask for a long weight

B) Walk up to them and say “You think youth is on your side, but experience counts for everything in this business. You’ve a lot to learn”

C) Tell the boss you’re happy to spend the whole week closely mentoring the work experience employee, even if it means doing your own work when you get home. You’re that dedicated! Anything to help that promotion along

D) Take the whole week off sick to get out of the training you were meant to prepare for them

E) Offer to take them out for lunch… then tell them you forgot your wallet and make them pay for it


5. You’re asked to go out and buy some doughnuts for an important meeting. What do you do?

A) Buy some plain doughnuts then fill them with mayonnaise. “‘Custard’ doughnut anyone?”

B) Write a 15 page email on the negative health effects of eating fatty foods, including links to medical reports and statistics on doughnut related deaths

C) First, buy everyone a plain sugar doughnut. Next, drive 37 miles to Krispy Kreme to get the most expensive, glorious looking doughnut known to man. Then it’s back to the office to present it to your boss on a silver platter. If this doesn’t get you promoted, what will?

D) Walk the two miles to the shops instead of driving there. After all, it’s a nice day outside and it would be rude not to take your time. That’s shaved a few hours off the working day nicely

E) Refuse. Even though you’ll be given the money back in a few days, there is no way on earth you’re missing out on the 0.001% interest you will earn from keeping your cash in the bank


So, which office personality are you? Find out below:

I answered A to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Joker’. Always quick to make light of any situation and never miss the opportunity to play a practical joke on your colleagues. You’re the centre of attention at office parties and people look to you to cheer them up. On the other hand, you can be a nightmare in meeting scenarios where you have been known to struggle to contain your energy.

I answered B to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Know-it-all’. Never short of an opinion or two, you’ve got all the answers and probably even know the question before it has been asked. Keeping up to date with the latest piece of technology or industry news is no problem for you, as you more than likely had something to do with creating it (in your head at least).

I answered C to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Suck-up’. Always keen to let everyone know you’re working on a Saturday, or fetch your boss a drink, you may not be the most popular figure in the office but your sucking up tactics might just help you to go all the way to the top.

I answered D to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Slacker’. Working 9-5 is no way to make a living, not in your eyes anyway. You’ll stretch out any opportunity to be away from your desk – from prolonged visits to the water cooler, through to volunteering to go and buy the milk for the tea round. Oh and you’re good at delegating tasks to other people too – very good at it in fact.

I answered E to the majority of questions:

You’re ‘The Office Tight-arse’. Stealing paperclips, taking toilet paper from work to use at home and even refusing to contribute to the company’s charitable cause, you’re the embodiment of the phrase ‘short arms, deep pockets’.


We recommend taking your results with a pinch of salt, as we are aware that no one truly falls into any one category and a healthy mix of behaviours is what makes the world go around.

Once you have your results, feel free to share them for fun with your friends and colleagues on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, or tweet us directly @Flexioffices using #FlexiPersonality.

“The most disliked office personality in the UK (UK wide survey results)” – Flexioffices via journalism.co.uk [press release] (19 August 2014) http://www.journalism.co.uk/press-releases/the-most-disliked-office-personality-in-the-uk-uk-wide-survey-results-/s66/a557713/
“What office personality are you? The quiz” – Flexioffices – Blog http://www.flexioffices.co.uk/what-office-personality-are-you-the-quiz
“File:Office Worker with Two Monitors.JPG” – MrChrome, Wikimedia Commons (11 December 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Office_Worker_with_Two_Monitors.JPG
Bill Dimmick, Flickr via Compfight http://compfight.com/search/office-worker/1-3-1-1


SWISS MINIMUM WAGE: Voters likely to reject world’s highest minimum pay package

Swiss voters are likely to reject a motion by the country’s government to begin paying workers what would have been the world’s highest rate of minimum wage pay, according to an online report by Irish current affairs public service RTE News. The vote, being held nationally today, will decide if employers are to be made to pay their staff a minimum wage of €18 (21.98 Swiss francs, £14.65) per hour worked. If the motion survives the vote, this means that no Swiss national can be paid less than an annual salary of £32,000.

The latest opinion poll on the minimum wage package, which is double that paid to workers in the United Kingdom, suggests that sixty-four per cent of voters are opposed, citing its potential negative impact on the buoyant Swiss economy. Local businesses are also fiercely opposed to the measure, which may leave smaller firms out of pocket.

The initiative was originally put forward by the SGB union and backed politically by the Socialist and Green parties. It is part of a raft of initiatives being put in front of the country’s voters to address pay inequality and the widening income gap in a country famed for its egalitarian policies, culture and low taxes, which have made this part of Europe a popular domicile for both local and foreign organisations. The liberal economy means that Switzerland does not currently have a national statutory minimum wage.

A Swiss employee’s pay rate is usually agreed via employment contracts. Companies in certain industries often arrange an industry-wide minimum wage via ‘collective bargaining agreements’ between competitors.

12 Francs
12 Francs (Photo credit: [Jim])

As in many other European countries, public anger has increased at the widening gulf in pay between top CEOs and other executives and workers at the opposite end of the pay spectrum. Those on the lower wage scales have seen take-home pay lag in real terms, while bonuses and pay cheques for executives have expanded continuously even six years after the 2008 credit crunch.

Supporters of the minimum wage package say it will put an end to the wage disparity between the richest Swiss and the poorest, and will see an average worker take home at least 4,000 francs (£2,666) per month, enabling those working in industries like retail, lower-grade office work and hospitality to live a far better standard of living. Many also cite the high costs of living in cities such as Geneva and Zurich, which attract many investors and financial high-fliers. This has led to more expensive outlets and higher property prices that disadvantage the less well off. According to the BBC, an average one-bedroom city centre flat in Zurich, Berne or Lausanne can cost 1,800 francs (£1,199.70) per month. This does not include further costs such as utility bills and health insurance, which totals around 400-600 francs (£267-400) monthly. A restaurant meal for two in a popular five-star eaterie can set diners back 100-150 francs (£66-£100). The higher cost of living also means lower-paid workers are forced to claim government benefits to top up pay, meaning in effect the government subsidises employers who refuse to pay a livable wage, supporters say. Opponents however say that the measure will damage competitiveness among Swiss businesses. Companies unable to pay the higher salaries would be forced to shed their minimum wage workforce, meaning that the policy may increase unemployment, particularly among the young and newly employed, and do more harm than good to the lower-paid.

“HEM News Agency” – The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter LINK
RTÉ News, Twitter LINK
“Swiss set to reject world’s highest minimum wage proposal” – RTÉ News/RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Ltd (18 May 2014) LINK
“Switzerland votes on world’s highest minimum wage” – BBC News Business, BBC (18 May 2014) LINK
“12 Francs” – [Jim], Flickr (27 October 2008) LINK



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PITMAN TRAINING: Vital Skills for Stratford Jobseekers

East London’s job hunters now have a new ally in the search for better career prospects. The Pitman Training Centre in Stratford is currently offering a two-day workshop for local jobseekers who are concerned that they are being held back by a lack of skills in jobsearching and employability.

Pitman Training are a nationwide training organisation offering courses in office-based careers. They specialise in secretarial skills, keyboard skills, accounts, information technology and provide specialised courses dealing with Microsoft packages. Pitman operate through convenient training locations and allow you to study at your own pace to gain certification. Not surprisingly, they have gained a foothold in east London, where much of the population are economically disadvantaged and both need and desire new skills to help them improve their situations.

(c) Pitman Training
The Berkeley Business Centre in Stratford, where Pitman’s workshops will be held (c) Free Office Finder

This special workshop will be held at the Berkeley Business Centre (not far from Stratford’s popular shopping district) and is designed with jobseekers in mind. If you live in the east London area especially, and are having trouble getting employers to notice your CV, or want to improve your current earnings, or even to acquire some helpful advice…then you could give the workshop a try.

Topics covered will include:

  • Selling yourself as an ideal candidate to prospective employers.
  • Writing the CV that gets noticed.
  • Finding jobs on the net i.e. online recruitment firms.
  • Interview techniques.
  • Self-development and adopting a ‘can-do’ attitude.
  • Using networking skills.
  • Utilising real-life and online social networks for career changes and advancement.
  • Making yourself more visible to recruiters.

Over the two days, you will receive guidance from experts in the field to tackle the increasingly tough job vacancy market. Although exact details of what will happen over the workshop’s duration are not available to the Half-Eaten Mind, it can be safely assumed that there will be presentations, group exercises and classroom teaching especially designed to help students hook that elusive vacancy.

When the UK job market is being pummelled by both the credit crunch and the Eurozone crisis, and as employers place more emphasis on IT and ‘soft’ skills, companies like Pitman Training will prove a valuable lifeline for those who are looking to get back into work or want to broaden their horizons.

To book a place at Pitman’s workshop in Stratford, you can call them direct on 0203 130 0778. Alternatively drop in for a quick chat at Pitman Training Centre Stratford, 2nd floor, Berkeley Business Centre, 44 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1XH.

For more information – visit http://www.pitman-training.com/locations/pitman-training-stratford