Does Having the X-Factor Save You From Failure?

The X-Factor began making dreams come true after exploding out of the bitter darkness in 2004, and since then many memorable faces that we definitely haven’t forgotten have become irrepressible stars that have changed the world of music. At least, that’s what you’d think, considering the hordes of people all over Britain that still seem intent on lining up to be abused by square headed man-trousers, Simon Cowell and friends. Maybe because they thought they sounded great in the shower, or they looked fantastic miming into a hairbrush, or because slightly less than five of their co-workers had told them to never sing in the office again, which was a few less than the year before.

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 17.13.37Winners of the X-Factor are given a £1 million record deal, generally manage a Christmas number one, and a tour sometime later that also includes the contestants that they beat, who are presumably made to stand behind them and look sullen. But is winning the X-Factor the dream-ticket that it suggests it is? Where are any of the stars now? The first winner, Steve Brookstein’s first album Heart and Soul went to number one, went certified gold and sold 105,080 records. His second sold just 3,632 records. This may have been due to the difficulties he went through with the Sony label he was signed on to after winning, and a general lack of advertising, but it’s hardly a fate fitting of someone who has the much coveted X-Factor which, if you’ve been wondering, is the same ingredient that Coca-Cola refuses to disclose.

There have been success stories for winners of X-Factor, though. It would look very suspicious if there hadn’t. Leona Lewis shot to stardom with Bleeding Love, which was everywhere, and she is still recording as a singer, but there isn’t nearly the same hearsay around her. Olly Murrs has released four albums, the number most of the more successful winners seem to have managed, and become a presenter, so he seems to be living the life that X-Factor contestants all yearn for. JLS did well enough to move onto becoming a successful brand of contraceptives and clothes. Little Mix’s first album even did better than the Spice Girls’ debut.

The show still seems to continue to sell vast numbers of records, but winners get chewed up and spat out once the novelties worn off and there’s a whole new set of warblers to abuse or adore, usually by the time the previous winner’s just done a second album. It’s not uncommon over the Christmas period to see previous contestants releasing a Christmas covers album or adorning posters for pantomimes across the country, which doesn’t seem to be such a huge achievement when considered alongside Alexandra Burke starring in The Bodyguard on the west end. But once we begin to move away from more recent winners of The X-Factor, we see stars beginning to fade back into the obscurity they once exploded out of. You might have already who Steve Brookstein is. Winner of the fourth series, Leon Jackson, hasn’t really done anything since 2011. Shayne Warde was on Dancing On Ice. Amelia Lily’s last single went to 83.

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Finalist of the second series, Andy Abraham, had to file for bankruptcy, even though his first album went platinum. He came last in Eurovision but continued to do live shows long after. He only lost by just over one percent, but still disappeared from the public eye years later. Of course, music is a fickle business, and winning a contest judged by an equally fickle public isn’t going to be a good judge of success. Possibly much like the judges themselves. There’s simply no way of knowing. But if it’s a contestants dream to do very, very well for about six months, and then quite well for a few years before gently dissolving into being at best an occasional contestant in something and at worst a disgusting normal person with an interesting anecdote, signing up for the X-Factor wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Louis Clayton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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How You Can Help With the Ebola Pandemic and Other Crises.

The Current Crisis in West Africa

With the ebola crisis in West Africa continuing to worsen, charity groups such as Doctors Without Borders have been pushed towards breaking point with resources being stretched thin. Currently the virus has taken over 4,500 lives and hospital workers and healthcare workers are at serious risk when helping those currently suffering. While hysteria is starting to grow across the world, the most pressing trouble remains in Africa, where the virus is continuing to spread rapidly. The current predictions from WHO (the World Health Organisation) are that the amount of infections could be as many as 10,000 new cases a week in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone by December if efforts aren’t increased. The current mortality rate is 70%, and although sometimes we might read these as just numbers, albeit alarmingly large ones, it’s always important to remember the people affected. The families, the relationships, the friendships behind the statistics.

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Many of those helping fight the disease in West Africa are volunteers, bravely putting their own lives in danger to help. Charities such as Doctors Without Borders are currently on the front line in helping patients, where the situation is most critical. Patients are lying on mattresses in the dark, ambulances are getting stuck in traffic causing life-threatening delays and doctors are only able to work for 45 minutes at a time, with their protective suits making things impossibly hot to treat patients effectively. Guinea, ground zero of ebola is currently seeing the least amount of aid and resources, and despite experiencing the lowest amount of cases of the three countries most affected, alongside Liberia and Sierra Leone, it is currently seeing a “massive spike of cases.”

The chance of the virus spreading to the rest of the world has been lowered, now that healthcare officials across the globe have finally begun to accept the potential severity of the virus, despite it being first confirmed in March. But countries across Africa still desperately need all the help they can get in this tragic crisis to contain and defeat the spreading.

Charity Fundraising

So how can we offer support here in the UK? It might all seem a little overwhelming, but there are ways we can help. While world governments are donating what they can, and even Ikea has donated over five million euros, there is still much that we can do personally to help with the crisis overseas individually. A great way to help, particularly if you are currently looking for a challenging and rewarding job, is to consider charity fundraising to help raise the funds desperately needed to help those in countries such as Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This can be done over the phone, door-to-door or on the streets. It can be a trying job at times, and you will have to be prepared for a lot of rejection and long hours, but that’s a small price to pay for the aid you are helping provide.

If you are an outgoing, friendly and energetic person who loves meeting new people and working as part of an ambitious, similar minded team, this could be the perfect opportunity for you to help with causes such as the current ebola epidemic. Although you can also raise funds for many more charitable causes both overseas and here in the UK, from helping provide care for the elderly in Britain over the coming winter months, to the current conflict in Syria. You will also gain many vital career skills. At Strike-Jobs we have over 100 jobs available in the charity and fundraising sector, any of which could be perfect for you to begin helping with these difficult causes.

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Other Ways You Can Help

There are many charitable causes that need support, and direct fundraising is not the only option for helping many charities. There are a number of other ways you can help support charitable causes. One such way is working with charities to pick up furniture from locals donating their no longer needed items, which can make a huge amount of difference. It can provide furniture and electrical items for charity shops to sell, or be donated to groups that provide your old furniture to people that really need it, such as the Furniture Re-Use Network. Anyone can help charity furniture shops by joining them in their vans to collect unwanted electronics and furniture. I helped out by doing that in the past, and I’m about as strong as a glass of water. Everybody helps make a difference.

And if door-to-door or street fundraising is not for you, you can always organise a fundraising event, such as a bake-sale or a fun-run to help a good cause, such as Doctors Without Borders, and have fun while doing it, to help those in need currently suffering in Africa or any charity close to your heart.

There has been good news in the fight against ebola, however, such as Nigeria declaring themselves ebola free today after just twenty cases thanks to their rapidity at containing the problem. Even then, the danger still remains possible if any cases appear in any of the country’s densely populated slums. But it’s important to remember that we can contain it and we can beat it, but your help is still desperately needed.

Louis Clayton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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The Rise of Women in Current British Politics and Business.

The gender balance in UK Politics.

With Alex Salmond stepping down from his position as leader of the Scottish National Party next month, after Scotland voted against independence, Scotland’s three largest parties look set to be helmed by female politicians. Salmond’s current deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is to take his place, as nobody within the party has chosen to run against her. She will join Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Ruth Davidson who is the current leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. This would provide a stark contrast to England’s current all-male leadership, and could spark a change in the current gender-balance of UK politics.

In the UK, of the current 650 politicians, just 147 are women, as of the 2010 general election. However, Scotland’s parliament is composed of 35% women, compared to the House of Commons, which stands at roughly 20%. So what could this new change to Scotland’s leadership mean for women in politics? All three of Scotland’s largest parties, as well as two of the largest parties in Wales, have a woman as leader. While in England, Harriet Harman serves as deputy shadow Prime Minister, and Home Secretary Theresa May is arguably one of the most powerful people in British politics.

Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola Sturgeon has been a member of Scottish Parliament since 1999, and has been a member of The Scottish National Party since she was just 16. She became deputy First Minister in May 2007, while also serving for Minister of Health & Well-Being. She was also more or less in charge of the Yes to Scottish Independence campaign, something that she campaigned passionately for alongside Alex Salmond. She looks certain to become the new First Minister of Scotland, something that she described as being “no greater privilege.”

Like Lamont of the Scottish Labour party and Davidson of the Scottish Conservative party, her position was achieved through her passion and ability, as any position anywhere should be achieved, so why then do we continue to have such a large gap in the representation of women in UK politics, compared to, say, Sweden and many other Nordic countries? It’s certainly a big step in the right direction towards a more proportional gender representation, certainly in Scotland, and hopefully with coming elections we will begin to see this becoming the norm. So normal, in fact, that it won’t even be something worth commenting on, making articles like this largely unnecessary.

But despite this female leadership seen in Scotland and Wales, the power still largely remains with the male lead parties in London. With the ever-looming 2014 elections, likely to be this coming May, it remains to be seen how much closer we step towards a gender balance within UK politics as a whole.

Women at Work.

With the female leadership of Scottish politics, and the rest of the UK’s current political representation, how does this compare to the rest of the world at work here in Great Britain? Since 2011, the percentage of women in the Financial Times Stock Exchange top 100 has risen from 12.5% to 20.7%. A substantial leap in a fairly short amount of time, but still nowhere near a proportional percentage. However, only 6.9% of senior executive roles within these companies are held by women.

In September, Véronique Laury was named the new owner of Kingfisher, who owns B&Q and many other DIY companies across the globe. This brought the number of female chief executives within the Financial Times Stock Exchange top 100 up to a resounding five. Which, when compared to the ninety-five other businesses in the list, may seem a little low. Among them, she joins Carolyn McCall, CEO of Easyjet, and Moya Greene, CEO of The Daily Mail.

So what can be done to begin to continue this current trend? Some tactics, such as government workplace-equality legislations, are an effective way of helping under-represented minorities find positions, but can lead to “tokenism”, and may not help to change attitudes internalised within businesses. Former trade minister, Mervyn Davies, stated that “key to lasting improvement was encouraging companies to drive change within…This is about changing the culture of corporate Britain, and using a stick is not the best way to do that.”

Culture can be slow to change, but hopefully, when it does, it will become something no longer worthy of note, something so incredibly normal that people will be surprised it was ever an issue at all. If you are a woman, and you feel you could achieve higher, you can always use www.Strike-Jobs.co.uk to help start shift the current gender imbalance in the world of work in the right direction, and start the cultural change in the UK.

Louis Clayton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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Outrage After Lord Freud’s Comments on Minimum Wage for People With Disabilities.

Public outcry after Lord Freud comments that some people with disabilities could earn just £2 an hour.

Lord Freud has been challenged and met with mass outrage after David Milliband confronted him over comments he had made last month at a Conservative party fringe event. He stated that there is a small group that are “not worth” being paid the minimum wage, and that some people could be paid as little as £2 an hour. These remarks have since resulted in calls from other parties for the politician to resign, and Prime Minister David Cameron calling on senior officials to ask him to apologise, as otherwise he risks losing his job. Lord Freud will not be present today in The House of Lords, and his current position within the government is in jeopardy.

Lord Freud

He was found to have said in a discussion; “Now, there is a small … there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually …” The comments made were in reference to some companies being reluctant to hire people with disabilities for the minimum wage, and perhaps find a potential workaround. Here at Strike-Jobs, we have the tools to help those affected with a disability to find work quickly with specialised registration tools.

Lord Freud’s Apology.
Lord Freud, great-grandson of the famed psychologist, has since stated that he is sorry, But Cameron’s spokesman has said “The Prime Minister will want to hear the full context of what happened and also wants to hear what Lord Freud has to say,” and with Freud absent from the proceedings in The House of Lords, this could mean the end for Lord Freud’s political career. Lord Freud has apologised for his comments, saying, “I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.” But David Milliband has stated that “the Conservative party is going back to its worst instincts – unfunded tax cuts, hitting the poorest hardest, now undermining the minimum wage. The nasty party is back.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has, much like David Cameron, distanced himself from Lord Freud’s comments, but has stated on his LBC radio show that “That should not stop any of us having a discussion and, frankly, a difficult discussion – because some of these issues are difficult – to get more people with disabilities and with other disadvantages in life into the workplace.” But he still commented that, “I think what was so offensive to people about the remarks recorded at the Conservative Party Conference that Lord Freud made was when he used this word ‘worth’ and he said some people with disabilities were not worth the minimum wage. I think that is what has, quite rightly, touched a raw nerve because it’s making a comment about someone’s individual value.” What do you think would work, to both convince more employers to hire people with disabilities, and make sure they are given a fair wage?

Currently, people with disabilities make up eighteen percent of the UK’s population, with 9.4 million people living in the UK currently being effected, and roughly 100,000 people with disabilities currently being paid the minimum wage, it’s apparent that many more jobs could be available for those with disabilities that need them, and it could be argued that Freud’s comments were said to try and help those with disabilities find work, albeit for considerably lower pay.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Lord Freud, with his government position in jeopardy, calls from all parties to resign and outrage from disability groups. Here at www.Strike-Jobs.co.uk we are very passionate about helping those with disabilities find work with registration tools designed to make signing up as easy as possible. But what do you think? Are these comments taken out of context, or is it time for Lord Freud to resign? Leave your comments below.

Louis Clayton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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Engineering Sector Suffering From a “Skills Timebomb”

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The industry insiders are calling it a “skills timebomb” – during the economic crisis, jobs dried up. And now, even though the economy is better, more older aged people are hitting retirement faster than the number of youths training for the sector can fill needed positions.

According to reports, the number of non-EU recruited engineers in the UK has increased by 36% from last year. With the economy heading back towards full speed, hiring for engineers is also again picking up, but due to the local skills shortage companies have needed to find qualified workers elsewhere.

A lot of leaders in the industry agree that part of the problem (and the solution) is that schools’ attitudes towards the trades need to change. They need to understand the variety of routes into work, noting that it is better for apprenticeships to start earlier on, at around 15, rather than several years after school. Information about skilled jobs, such as those in engineering and construction, need to be addressed more in schools to make them more aware towards students who might be interested but not have any advice available to them.

Perhaps, with a push, vocational training will receive as much attention as university degrees and help to  create more jobs for youth – and at the same time help cut youth unemployment.


Currently at Strike-Jobs.co.uk, we have over 2,200 job vacancies in the Engineering sector. Click here to search and apply for the position that is best for you!

MaryEllen Fenton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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BCC Workforce Survey Suggests Young People Lack Workplace Skills

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Today, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has released the findings of its Workforce Survey, entitled ‘Developing the Talents of the Next Generation‘. The study gathered data from 3,000 companies, and the findings reported that 9/10 companies feel that young people are inadequately prepared for the work place when they leave the education system.

Over half of these companies also stated that they believe young people suffer from a lack of ‘soft’ skills, such as communication and knowing how to work in a team, and more than a quarter admitted that they have not recruited a young person (age 16-24) within the last year due to the fear of poor work readiness.

Part of the problem that a lot of businesses cited that they don’t have the time or resources to offer work experience placements. Only 39% of the companies surveyed said that they offer apprenticeships.

However, John Longsworth, Director General of the BCC, clarified that this is not an attack on the youth. “It isn’t about pointing a finger at young people – it is a joint responsibility between businesses, educators, and government.”

The BCC has made recommendations, that were written into its 2014/2015 Business Manifesto. They strongly suggest that businesses and educators work on strengthening the bond between them, and how they can help each other ensure the readiness of young people entering the workforce.

Another major proposal they mentioned was to increase the take up of apprenticeships by extending the £1500 apprenticeship grant for employers.

A full listing of key findings and statistics, as well as a Workforce infographic, can be found at the BCC’s website, here.

MaryEllen Fenton | Strike-Jobs.co.uk Journalist

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