Giant group: IT contractor jobless half that of 2003 levels
Unemployment among IT contractors is only half of what it was following the dot.com crash of five years ago, according to research from contractor services provider giant group.
The research shows that at the end of 2003, 13% of IT contractors were unemployed for 90 days or more. This compares with 7.5% in giant’s latest survey. The survey also shows that 62% would opt for a long-term contract over higher per hour pay, up from 56% in 2003.
Almost a third (30%) thought that the public sector would support demand for IT skills; in 2003, up from 13% five years ago. Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group, says: “Despite the current problems that IT contractors are faced with they are still faring far better than they were following the dot.com crash.”
WWI battle grave recovery begins
An operation to recover and identify the remains of about 400 British and Australian soldiers killed during a WWI battle in Northern France is to begin.
It follows the discovery of several unmarked mass graves in a field on the outskirts of the village of Fromelles.The British and Australian authorities have published the names of the soldiers they expect to find. They have asked relatives for DNA to help identify the soldiers, who will be re-buried in a new military cemetery.
The bloody battle fought on 19 July 1916, at Fromelles, was a military disaster. It was supposed to divert German resources away from the Battle raging on the Somme, 50 miles to the south, and to capture a local German stronghold. But because of poor planning and execution, more than 5,500 Australian and at least 1,500 British troops were massacred as they attacked heavily fortified positions in broad daylight. It was the first major action involving the Australians on the Western Front, and they suffered more casualties in a 24-hour period than at any other time in their history, even more than at the Battle of Gallipoli a year earlier.
Today, it is a place of pilgrimage for Australians. Ironically, 93 years later, the man in charge of removing the remains is a German. "We are very aware of just how important the recovery of the bodies is to very many people, both in the UK and in Australia. "It's equally important to the people in this part of France.
"They live daily with this and are very passionate about this," he said.Bois de Faisan, or Pheasant Wood - as it is known in English - is on the edge of the tiny village of Fromelles, about 10 miles outside the northern French city of Lille.
South African Elections held
Thumbs became the unofficial symbol of the South African elections as voters had their thumbs inked to show they had cast their vote. Photo: Darryn van der Walt
Zuma vows to unite South Africa
Jacob Zuma, the man expected to become South Africa's president after his ANC party's convincing electoral win, has said he will work to unite the country.
"We have gone through a difficult period... it is now time to put it all behind us," he said after the ANC's fourth term in office was confirmed. The ANC won 65.9% but fell just short of its previous two-thirds majority. Mr Zuma was dogged by corruption and sex scandals and the party split last year when he stood for leader. A two-thirds majority in parliament is needed to change the constitution.
Rejecting opposition allegations, Mr Zuma added that the ANC (African National Congress) posed no threat to the constitution. The ANC will have 264 seats in parliament - just short of a two-thirds majority.
Australia expects Sri Lanka boats
There is significant risk civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's civil war will head for Australia, the country's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, has said.
"There is clearly very grave potential for displaced people coming from Sri Lanka," Mr Smith told reporters. He has been a strong critic of the Sri Lankan government offensive, blaming it for a high civilian toll. Officials in Australia said on Wednesday they had intercepted another boat carrying suspected asylum-seekers. Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the boat was believed to have come from Sri Lanka and had 32 men on board.
Mr Debus said that while many asylum seekers were arriving from Afghanistan and Pakistan, the number coming from Sri Lanka could grow. "We are also concerned... that there will be a surge of people, really, coming from the consequences of the terrible fighting that has been going on between Tamil and Sinhalese people," he said
NZ Shearers' UK entry 'fast-tracked'
Concessions have been agreed on how sheep shearers from New Zealand and Australia get permission to work in the UK.
The British Wool Marketing Board had warned that gangs were being put off by the process of getting new identity cards. But following discussions with the Home Office, the board said the system could now be "fast-tracked".
It means Australians no longer need to travel to Canberra to get the cards. Previously, the process forced one shearer to travel for eight hours for a three minute interview to supply identity details. The board said farmers and contractors had also been worried that the new system would damage a special relationship which sees shearers, including those from Scotland, going to New Zealand and Australia to work.
Last year, the Scottish Shearing Association hoped the lure of world travel would encourage more to take it up professionally. Initiatives tried included a fun Scotland versus England challenge to help send a young shearer to New Zealand to work. Doug Lambie, who farms in north Wales, said there had always been close links between shearers in the UK and New Zealand. He said: "The southern hemisphere shearers come to the UK in the summer and many young people from the UK visit New Zealand during the winter to learn and to work alongside the world's top shearers.
"I'm glad the problems have been resolved so that we can continue to maintain our strong ties with the New Zealand shearing industry." The Home Office introduced the cards to people from outside the European Economic Area last year. They contain the fingerprints, name, and date of birth, nationality and the person's right to be in the UK.