Demand for specialised contractors key to 2014

The outlook for 2014 looks bright for contractors, especially those with niche skills. According to a recent Manpower report, the first quarter of this year is set to be very positive for contractors with specialised skills and qualifications.

Those who work within the information technology sector will do particularly well at the start of 2014, according the recruitment firm’s recent report.

With cloud technology set to really take off this year, any contractors with skills that relate to cloud security or have data governance skills will be widely sought after by clients across the UK.

However, it isn’t just the IT sector that is set create optimism among contractors, with eight per cent of employers expecting to hire new staff this year.

What’s more, some 48 per cent of employers said that they would look to take on more agency and temporary workers over Q1 of 2014, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey of employers from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Some 38 per cent of businesses plan to increase the amount of agency workers they use throughout the year, further providing a positive outlook for contractors this year.

It stands to reason to assume that many of the firms that are looking to recruit temporary staff will need professionals that have specific skills and qualifications.

The report also says that employer optimism is a common theme regarding the year ahead, with 43 per cent of respondents predicting that 2014 will be much better than 2013.

One of the main reasons for Manpower’s optimistic predictions for 2014 is a skills shortage in the UK. The IT sector is suffering more than most in this regard.

Employers need contractors with a good mix of experience and skill to fulfill certain tasks, which is why any contractors in the IT sector should be looking forward to a good year.

With the economy showing the first signs of a tentative recovery, many businesses will be starting to think about the opportunities for growth that may come with it. However, due to the relative uncertainty in terms if the longevity of this recovery, employers could still be tentative when it comes to taking on new staff.

Contractors who want to take advantage of this may wish to maximise their time and efficiency by working through an umbrella company. For those asking the question ‘what is an umbrella company?” the answer is simple, it is a firm that takes care of the admin and financial aspect of freelancing so that a contractor can place more emphasis on their current contract.

This could work in the favour of contractors in the UK. According to the Professional Contractor Group’s 2011 report regarding the freelance workforce, employers can turn to contractors in times of economic uncertainty.

The reason for this being that contractors cost less (no sick or holiday pay to cover) and that a freelancer is available a temporary basis, meaning that if the economic climate does take a turn for the worst, a contract can be terminated with relative ease.

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Top 5 Natural Sites to Visit in Australia

Australia is a unique and diverse country, perfect for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re a backpacker or traveling with a family or partner, you’ll find a rewarding and memorable experience here. You can rent a house fast in Australia if you’d prefer to stay awhile; read here for more info. The country combines gorgeous natural landscapes, beaches and mountains with exciting cities and a friendly-laid back culture. If you’re a nature lover, don’t miss these top 5 sights to see in Australia while you’re here!

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Kakadu National Park

If you’re a nature lover, you’re definitely in the right place visiting Australia. The natural scenery is mind-blowing and unlike anywhere else in the world. This national park is one of the largest in the country, and contains the most wildlife of any park here, as well as aboriginal rocks! You can check out awesome sites here like Gunlow Plunge Pool, Yellow Water and Billabong.

Island of Tasmania

Because of its incredible natural beauty, Tasmania is nicknamed “The Island of Inspiration.” And you’ll easily see why when you get here. Off the southern tip of Australia, it’s covered with mountains and rainforests at the southern end. Beautiful rivers, majestic waterfalls and of course endless stretches of gorgeous beaches make this a nature-lover’s paradise.

Great Barrier Reef

This one is a must-not-miss when you visit Australia! Whether or not you scuba dive, you have to explore this incredible, unique ecosystem. It’s one of the largest coral reefs in the world, home to many unique and endangered animals and plants that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Check out the Whitsunday Islands for one of the best places to take off on a scuba diving excursion.

Great Ocean Road

If you get the chance to rent a car through Australia, you’ll be treated with some of the most scenic drives of your life. And this road, stretching 250 km down the southern coast of Australia, is one of the best stretches of road to drive. You’ll never experience such amazing ocean views anywhere else!

Daintree Rainforest

This rainforest is located near Queensland and is actually the largest in all of Australia. Here you can go on hikes, adventure tours and even hang out with crocodiles. It’s really one of the best places for nature lovers in the whole country. You can even taste some special fruits of the rainforest here.

 

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The art gallery deconstructed

What is an art gallery? It sounds like there is an obvious answer to this and while you would be right in such an assertion, this understanding does not give a full picture. An art gallery is from a very straightforward point of view a space that exists to display works of art and objects of cultural and aesthetic significance.

That makes sense, but beyond the obvious, there is a lot more to this institution than what we understand as visitors attending an exhibition. Galleries – which, in part, have overlaps with museums in this article – are hubs of varied activity beyond the showcasing of art.

Their remit can extend into areas like research, conservation and commercial endeavours, three key areas that can exist all at once in any given space, or independently as a unique selling point that defines one gallery from another. A lot of this can be directed from whether they are private or public in orientation.

Buying and selling

While purchasing and selling works of art is evident in both private and public galleries, for privately-owned spaces, it will be focused around the establishment acting as a manager on behalf of artists, who will promote their work and earn a commission on a sale.

For public counterparts, the emphasis on acquiring works is to do with reputation and collection, so a work will come into such a gallery to complement what is already in the institution’s possession.

The latter will be a lot more costly than the former, because nine times out of ten, the painting or sculpture in question will be of particular historical importance (thought that doesn’t devalue the works being acquired by smaller galleries).

Conservation and Restoration

What use is there in being a space that exhibits works of art if you are unable to do just that? As galleries have evolved so too has their remit and one area that has grown in importance over the years is conservation-restoration (which can be referred to as singularly conservation or conservation and restoration).

The philosophy of this discipline is simple – to preserve works of art. There are two reasons for this. One, future generations can enjoy it, and two, keep an important item in as good a condition as possible because, while it may be too fragile to show, they exist as historical artefacts.

Some of the activities undertaken by teams at galleries include documenting, researching, examining, treating and restoring works of art. Interestingly, it is a practice which is predicated on utilising as little intervention as possible.

For example, from a practical vantage, when it comes to moving works of fine art into external storage or other rooms, the less the better. The same applies with location – it has to be kept in controlled conditions.

Curation

Though we can determine that curation happens – if you’re displaying works of art, then, by association, they have been curated – some galleries often outsource this service, so it isn’t an department or area of expertise to be found in every gallery.

It is vitally important to invest in this area, as a curator can conceive of some fantastic ideas that can change our understanding of art forever. Showing art is more than just sticking up paintings and installing sculptures. It is about sharing new ideas.

For example, the Ashmolean museum currently has an exhibition juxtaposing the works of Francis Bacon with Henry Moore. Entitled Flesh and Bone, it pits the two twentieth century titans against one another, though not necessarily as competitors.

You learn more about both of them as individuals, how their work complements one another and their place as contemporaries during the violent, macabre and tumultuous century.

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The Best Deals for Bad Credit Clients

Finance can be a minefield. Anyone wanting to get an advance years ago generally went to a high street bank. If they were buying a car they had the alternative of using a facility from a car dealership and often for convenience they signed up. Dealer finance has not always been the most competitive available; indeed it has to be said it is rarely the case.

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The best deals

It is important to not only strike a good deal with a car purchase but also get the best financial package. It is equally important to choose something that is affordable so that there are no problems with meeting monthly instalments down the line. The difficult economic environment in recent years has caused problems enough and some people suddenly found themselves unemployed and unable to meet their financial commitments, resulting in bad credit history that made obtaining new finance more difficult.

Bad credit

Credit risk is an emotive subject. Car credit for bad credit applicants is difficult to obtain through traditional sources that have occupied high streets for decades but the financial environment has changed. The Internet has been the major catalyst for change with companies recognising that there are significant numbers of people with a blemish on their credit records; however, it did not necessarily mean they were bad risks.

People generally recognise that they may have to pay a little more for finance if they have had a problem. Equally, getting approval and successfully paying back any loan will in itself improve the borrowers’ credit status.

There is plenty of research that can be done online when you are looking for a car and the finance to purchase it. Then it’s a matter of deciding between the alternatives provided and choosing the best company to contact.

The basics

There are some basics that such a company will include:

  • No arrangement fees
  • No deposit required
  • No conditions relating to where the buyer must go for a car
  • No obligation to use insurance facilities as a condition of loan approval

 

The longer the term over which any loan runs, the lower the monthly repayments but the more interest will be incurred. It is certainly unwise to extend a loan too long. It is not good financial management to have a loan still running when a car is beginning to fail and in need of replacement.

 

Running costs

 

Running a car involves more than raising the finance for the purchase. There is initially insurance and tax before ongoing service and maintenance issues; and of course petrol. Anyone who has owned a car before will know the approximate mileage each month and will know the costs involved. The important thing is to take all these other expenses into account when calculating affordability. There is nothing wrong in being a little conservative when calculating costs. If you end up spending slightly less overall once the deal is finalised – then that’s good news!

 

 

 

 

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Experiential vs blended learning – which is for you?

Giving employees the skills they need to do their job successfully is a never-ending challenge for businesses. There is always some new technique staff should have or policy that requires training, meaning you’re likely to continually be faced with the challenge of deciding the best approach to deliver information and develop talent.

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There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to training and each scenario will often require a different approach.

It’s important to remember that learning should be as bespoke as your company, specifically crafted to fill a certain need. Only this way will you find success.

However, there are two ways of learning that have proved popular in the past and these are experiential and blended learning, both available at Wyboston Lakes.

To find the one that best fits your needs, it’s important to understand their differences and similarities.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning theory was first proposed by David Kolb, who defined the approach as “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”.

Unlike most approaches to learning, it doesn’t rely solely on the cognitive process, but emphasises the role of experiences to influence the way we develop skills and knowledge.

The Experiential Learning Centre at the University of Colorado claims experiential learning is anything that requires reflection, critical analysis and synthesis. It should allow students to take the initiative, make decisions and be accountable for the results.

Participants should also be able to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially or even physically.

An experiential learning experience is likely to include the possibility of learning from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.

So when should you be using this technique with your staff?

Experiential learning is great for giving employees real-world experience, which in turn gives them the confidence to go out and use their skills in the workplace.

An example might be getting staff to use a new programme during a training day or trialing business simulation.

Blended learning

Blended learning combines instructor-led sessions with the online delivery of content and instruction.

This approach is growing in popularity for its cost-effectiveness, easy deployment and ability to be customised to suit individual needs.

What’s more, it’s easy for instructors to monitor performance and collate information about the skills of staff.

However, it’s important to remember that blended learning isn’t simply getting students to do a computer game, simulation or online test.

Computer-based education has to be blended with instructor and peer interaction, in which participants learn from each other but also have content available that is tailored to their individual needs.

Nevertheless, it is ideal for giving staff more control over how and when they learn, as resources can be accessed at all times (theoretically). What’s more, individuals often become more observant of how they learn and can more easily track their own progress.

Blended learning is a great approach for teaching large groups and communicating swaths of information that might need to be absorbed differently depending on the role of the staff member.

It also frees up instructors to spend more one-on-one time with participants, as attendees learn independently and at a different pace.

For this reason this approach has become popular in schools and could be incredibly useful during the initial training stage when taking on new staff.

However, blended learning is dependent on the technology you have available so be sure that your training venue is fully equipped.

 

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5 Things I need to Know about the Penguin Update

When the Penguin update came in to effect Google’s announcement did not leave enough time for a lot of people to prepare and change their SEO strategy. The update had most effect on deeper pages within your site and also on a bad links that you had built. To put it simply, the Penguin update was focused on links, this means that everyone had a massive portfolio of both inbound and outbound links that they needed to analyse. For those that took a hit by the update now need to go back to the drawing board and change up their strategy. When you are gong back over your portfolio you need to ensure that you follow Google’s guidelines as strictly as possible. Here are 5 things that you need to know about the Penguin update, they will help you to recover front the negative effects of Penguin. These strategies can be used for your content strategy, link building and social media strategy – they will help you get back your traffic and also be more prepared for any future Penguin updates that Google decide to throw at you.

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Anchor Texts

One of the biggest things to note is that the number of pages from a domain that appear for a certain keyword has been reduced. So you need to ‘box clever’ when using keywords. You need to start diversifying your anchor texts, you need to do everything you can to not use the same keywords for your anchor text. If you have a number of good keywords you will reap the benefits, gone are the days of just relying on one type of keyword.

Audit your links

You can perform a link audit by yourself, there is no need to go out and hire an expert. You need to go in to your Google Webmaster Tools, doing this will allow you to see which sites link to you. You then need to categorise the links, here is an example of the types of links; Paid links, broken links, links for de-indexed pages, suspicious links, links from pages that have no content. This are just some of the types you need to look out for.

Paid links

You need to go through your portfolio and assess all of the sites that have paid for links on your sites. You need to check this portfolio so that your page rank is to affected in the search rankings.

Social media

Social media is important! You should be using Google +, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google+ is important for your business and if your site has a lot of interaction you will rank highly on Google. Google will take data from Google+ which will in turn have a positive effect on your search engine ranking.

Manage your content

Quality content is always on the lips of Google, they want you to create quality content. Google expects you to create content that people will read and bookmark your site. Matt Cutts has stated that Google expects quality content. You should use videos, images and articles with great resources and information.

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Recognising Christmas within the workplace

Christmas is a strange time of year for businesses. Depending on the kind of industry you are in, the festive season will either be incredibly busy or extremely quiet.

Meanwhile, employees will be thinking of what gifts to buy for their friends and relatives and looking forward to their Christmas party.

Yet it’s true to say that many businesses don’t go to a great deal of effort when the festive season comes around.

Nobody is realistically suggesting that Christmas carols should be piped through the speakers all day and that fake snow should be falling from the ceiling.

But there is nothing stopping firms adding a few decorations and going the extra mile to encourage a bit of seasonal cheer in their workforce.

Give out Christmas presents

Perhaps one of the most heartwarming aspects of Christmas is giving and receiving presents, as it’s a great way to show loved ones and friends how much we care about them.

People’s relationships with their employer will obviously be quite different, yet even in the workplace, they still like to know they are valued.

With this in mind, businesses might find it worthwhile investing in some gifts for their workforce. It’s a way of recognising their efforts over the last year and thanking them for it in a meaningful and tangible way.

Business gifts – shown here – are often handed out to incentivise prospective customers or reward long-standing clients and partners. However, it is the workforce that makes a company run effectively and it therefore deserves to be thanked and acknowledged just as much as anyone else.

Of course, picking Christmas presents can be notoriously difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of appropriate options for an employer that wants to express the season’s greetings, such as pens, clocks, photo frames and other useful trinkets that will be handy both at work and in home.

Alternatively, companies might go for something that is a little bit more tailored to this particular time of year. A food hamper, for instance, or a selection of sweets and biscuits, is likely to be extremely well received by hard-working members of staff.

Everyone likes to indulge in fatty, sugary treats at this time of year, so satisfying this desire will certainly help bosses score a few brownie points with their team.

It’s worth remembering though that gifts shouldn’t be given out arbitrarily and it’s sensible to put a bit of thought into who receives what.

Employers might even find it a good idea getting their staff involved in deciding who should be given certain items, perhaps by setting up an award scheme and asking people to vote for winners in different categories.

This can be wise partly because some employees might otherwise get a bit jealous that one of their colleagues has got a more expensive or desirable gift than them. So if the selection process is completely open and transparent, nobody can dare to throw around accusations of favouritism.

Employers could really show that they value and appreciate their workforce by handing out the gifts at a special occasion, like a Christmas party. This will have far more impact than simply giving them out unceremoniously during the working day, as they don’t want to run the risk of making it look as if the sentiments behind them aren’t completely sincere.

 

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Legal benefits of working for yourself

People are classed as self employed when they are not working for an employer but working for themselves. Self employed people either work as independent contractors of make money through their own business. There are many reasons why the law benefits self employed individuals. A recent case would be the change to European Union legislation in 2012, the EU gave self-employed workers and their partners legal rights to maternity leave and also gave them some pension rights for the first time. One of the biggest legal benefits of working for yourself is the money you can save when it comes to taxes. Self employed people often find that they can reduce their tax bill and also turn their normal expenses in to tax deductible expenses. One thing that all self employed people will need is sound legal advice, using a suitable personal solicitor is strongly advised. A tax professional will be able to explain everything thoroughly and help you to save money. Here are some great ways that you can legally save money on your tax returns each year.legal

If you are self employed then you are able to deduct a lot of expenses from your tax, things such as a home office, health insurance, food and entertainment, communications, car and travel can all be deducted. Overall you can find yourself saving a lot of money, the money that you can save may lead you to retire earlier than planned. Of course, it is not all straightforward and you will need to do your research before deciding what expenses you can put down as business related. If you are in any doubt then you should not list them as a business expense, if the tax man goes through your accounts thoroughly and finds any mistakes then you will be left with a hefty fine. This is why it is always a great idea to consult with a solicitor before making any decision, paying for advice could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

The other benefits that are on offer to you come from the state. The benefits depend on certain criteria such as age, hours worked each week, earnings, number of children and if you have a disability or illness. The benefits that are available include; working tax credits, council tax support, child benefits, pension credits, income support and support with mortgage interest. Depending on your situation you are legally entitled to these benefits. To get a better idea of what you are entitled to you should look at the relevant government website, then you should consult a solicitor if you are unsure about any points.

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