News Report January 2015
News Report January 2015: Too many graduates, not enough jobs – The Taj Mahal in your living room – Entrepreneurial Spark – Experimental schools of the 1970s
Too many graduates, not enough jobs – The Taj Mahal in your living room – Entrepreneurial Spark – Experimental schools of the 1970s
Among new university graduates in India and China, unemployment – and underemployment – are rising fast. Some fear that large numbers of educated, underemployed young people could cause social problems in these countries.
In India, five million students graduate from university each year. However, one in three graduates up to the age of 29 is unemployed.
In China more than 7 million students will graduate from the country’s universities in 2014, and the number is steadily increasing. Unemployment among new graduates is somewhere between 15% and 30%.
Chinese workers without degrees are more willing to take factory jobs. However, the payment for factory jobs today is often higher than the payment for low-level office jobs.
Joseph Cheng, a professor at City University of Hong Kong, says that China’s leadership is extremely worried about graduate unemployment.
Craig Jeffrey, a professor at Oxford University, is an expert on India’s unemployed youth. He describes a similar situation in India. Government reports, he says, often describe underemployed graduates as “hostile to the state”.
There are more than 160,000 underemployed graduates in Beijing alone. Around one third of them graduated from China’s most prestigious universities.
But, surprisingly, researchers have found that these underemployed graduates in China and India are generally not angry – they are often calm and quite optimistic, because they still believe that they will find suitable jobs.
The Taj Mahal in your living room
The Taj Mahal is India’s most famous and romantic landmark. Soon, people who want to see the Taj Mahal will be able to take a virtual tour, using Google Street View, without leaving their homes.
The Taj Mahal is being mapped digitally using the Trekker, a special camera that creates 360-degree images. These images can make viewers feel that they are walking around the monument or landmark.
Google plans to use the Trekker camera to collect images of all the world’s most beloved landmarks. It has already been used to map the Grand Canyon and the world’s tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Today, about 80% of holidaymakers research their trips online before booking their holidays. Online virtual tours of hotels and destinations, like the Taj Mahal, are becoming an important way for holiday companies to market their products.
But is it possible for ‘virtual holidays’ to replace real world holidays completely?
Stuart Hetherington, chief executive of Holovis, a company which specializes in this kind of technology, believes this is possible.
In the future, he says, the walls of our homes could become giant TV screens, giving us extremely vivid 3D experiences. This technology could allow us to take ‘virtual vacations’, while staying at home.
“But I think virtual vacations are still a long way off,” he admits.
We can expect tourists to keep visiting the Taj Mahal for a long time yet.
A scheme started to help entrepreneurs survive the first few years in business is reporting an almost 90% success rate.
Entrepreneurial Spark (or ‘E-Spark’) is a business incubator scheme. It already has bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayrshire. An 86% survival rate in its first three years means it may start to support start-ups elsewhere in the UK from February.
The programme provides mentoring and support services for entrepreneurs who are just starting out, as well as networking opportunities to help them in their first year in business.
Companies are required to move on from the so-called ‘hatchery’ units after an initial phase, creating space for new recruits.
Turnover for firms supported by E-Spark topped £35m in 2014, with the scheme creating more than 1,000 jobs over the three years.
Investment has totalled £18m since E-Spark was established in 2011. It had reached £8m by the end of 2013.
A total of 280 firms received assistance in the first two years, growing to 350 by 2014.
Almost 500 jobs were created by the companies in 2014. They have together registered 386 patents.
The E-Spark model for supporting start-up firms is now being applied in other parts of the UK. Hatcheries could open soon in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast.
The roll-out will continue to have the backing of Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest.
Experimental schools of the 1970s
In the 1970s, many experimental schools appeared all over Britain. Lessons were not compulsory in these schools, and there were no timetables, no rules, and no uniforms. The pupils, not the teachers, made the decisions. These free schools had a reputation for being anarchic.
Maureen Breen started attending a free school in Liverpool in 1971.
“We used to go in and the teachers would say ‘what do you want to do today’? We’d never pick lessons. We used to go to the zoo or the pictures” she says.
While she was a pupil at the Scotland Road Free School, Maureen cannot remember doing any lessons at all. Her teachers tried to persuade her to take some exams, but she refused. Instead, she enjoyed cooking, and she used to make huge pans of soup for the other children. So when she was 16, she left school and worked as a caterer.
However, she had no qualifications, no exam results, none of the pieces of paper which help people to get better jobs. So she went back to college to study for exams in maths and English.
Today, Maureen has a more conventional life. She is married with three children, and lives in a neat house in Liverpool. She works as a secretary for the National Health Service.
None of the Scotland Road kids became millionaires. However, many ex-pupils say they learned important life skills while at the school.