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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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News from the UK and around the world
Flexible Working is the Most Popular Employment Benefit

Flexible working arrangements for parents with young children are the most popular arrangements/benefits that organisations surveyed offer (61% and 60% respectively). This varies between the different sectors. Over four in five employers (84%) cite job-sharing as the most offered benefit/arrangement in the public sector, whereas in the private sector and voluntary sector, ‘working from home’ is the most offered arrangement (56% and 64% respectively). Top reasons given by organisations surveyed for working from home are to increase organisational flexibility (68%), retain workforce/widen the talent pool (55%) and to meet employee demand (54%). Among organisations that offer working from home, over half of employers (57%) say they occasionally accept requests for fixed arrangements to work from home, and a quarter (26%) say they frequently accept such requests. Homeworking requests are accepted more regularly in the public sector than the private sector. Thirty-five per cent of public sector organisations frequently accept requests, compared with 21% of private sector organisations. Only a tenth of employers (12%) say they never accept these requests. Two-thirds (65%) of employers surveyed say their organisations help with the costs associated with homeworking. This is more evident in the private sector, where 69% of employers provide this compared with 59% in the public sector. Most of this support comes in the provision of operational facilities: laptop (92%), mobile (79%), technical helpline/assistance with any technical problems (60%), broadband access subsidy (54%) and printer (50%). Looking into the future, over half of employers surveyed say that the level of homeworking at their organisations will stay the same (58%). Just over a quarter (27%) say it will increase, with only 2% believing it will decrease. About a quarter (23%) of employers say tax or National Insurance exemptions from IT facilities would act as an incentive to increase homeworking opportunities among employees. This view is shared among the private sector and public sector employers – both 24%. Two in five (39%) organisations surveyed say attitudes of senior management towards homeworking have changed positively in the last five years. Half believe attitudes have not changed within this time, and only 6% think that their senior managers have become more negative towards it. Source: CIPD Labour Market Outlook Report.

Talent Shortages Remain Despite Slowdown

Talent shortages are a crucial issue for employers in an economic downturn, according to research by talent management specialist Taleo. Some 76% of R professionals believed shortages will remain or worsen as the economy slows, while 63% said that quality of hire is more of a priority as a result, found the study ‘Unified Talent Management: Critical to UK business’. The findings also showed that the long-term demographic trends that have caused the ‘war for talent’ outweighed short-term economic factors. Source: People Management.

London is the Worst for Sickness Absence

A third of Londoners admit to regularly missing work through sick days, making the capital the worst place in Britain for unauthorized absences, according to a survey by market research firm TNS. Some 33% of London workers occasionally phone in sick when they are not ill, compared with 19% nationally, a survey has found. One worker in 12 said they did no at least three times a year – twice the national average. A separate study by the CBI and insurance company AXA found 12% of the 172 million work days lost to absence were likely to be ‘sickies’, costing the economy £1.6 billion.

Women Get Better Degrees

White middle-class women have the best chance of getting top degrees at London universities. Research published shows that women outperformed men in almost every subject, with 59% of Firsts and 2:1s going to women last year. The Recruiters Guide to Courses and Campuses research also found that white students – whether male or female – got better degrees even at London universities with high proportions of ethnic minorities.

Salary Survey reveals 17% Ethnic Pay Gap among Solicitors

Black and minority ethnic solicitors earn 17% less than white solicitors, while women solicitors earn 7.6% less than their male counterparts, new research published by the Law Society has revealed. The survey, conducted by the Society’s Strategic Research Unit during October 2007 found white male solicitors earned an average of £50,000 and BME solicitors an average of £40,000 a year – an overall pay gap of 20%. After allowing for variables including grade, gender, firm size, region, post-qualification experience and hours worked, the salary gap narrowed to 17%. Researchers quizzed 1,201 solicitors, 9% of whom were BME solicitors and 43% were female.

Pilot Project to Support High Fliers

A groundbreaking scheme to support the development and retention of graduates working for North Staffordshire businesses has been announced. Funded by Advantage West Midlands, the Graduate Works project will support up to 25 graduates in the region, and provide them with the intensive training necessary to develop the skills needed to improve the productivity of the firms they are working for. It is hoped the scheme will lead to more talented professionals choosing North Staffordshire as a place to work, as opposed to more established business hubs such as Birmingham and Manchester. The project will be run by finest, the network for professional service firms at North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, and will be rolled out across the West Midlands if it proves to be successful.

Advantage West Midlands chairman Nick Paul said that the area needs to increase the number of graduates employed in the private sector by 4,000 each year and that stopping the brain-drain of talent away from the region was vital to help close the £10 billion output gap the West Midlands has compared to the national average. Source: Advantage West Midlands, 18/06/2008

MAPping out Skills Success

Northern Irish SMEs are invited to apply for a new skills scheme that can offer up to £6,000 funding to carry out management training initiatives. The Management Analysis and Planning (MAP) programme, provided by the Department of Employment and Learning, aims to help firms identify managerial skills and development needs. The programme offers free consultancy support to enable companies to recognise skills shortages, then offers financial support of up to 40% of the costs – to a maximum of £6,000 – to carry out the necessary training required. Successful firms will become more focused and systematic in their approach, understand the strengths, weaknesses and areas which the business needs to improve, and be encouraged to work towards achieving the Investors in People standard. The MAP programme is open to businesses in Northern Ireland that employ between 10 and 250 people and that have not achieved the Investors in People standard. Source: j4b, 17/06/2008

London 38th in Global Cities League

The latest survey of the quality of life in 215 global cities puts London in 38th place- an improvement of one over the 2007 table. The survey is conducted each year by Mercer to advise their multinational clients and takes into account a wide number of factors including the political, social, cultural and economic environment, health, education, public services, transport, recreation and the availability of consumer goods. The survey says that even when weighed against its “extensive range of theatre, music and other cultural events as well as an excellent choice of restaurants” is its “high cost of housing”, along with traffic congestion and crime. The Times says that the higher echelons of the list are dominated by slightly dull, safe German and Swiss cities with Zurich top, followed by Vienna and Geneva joint 2nd, Vancouver 4th, Auckland 5th, Dusseldorf 6th, Munich and Frankfurt joint 7th, Bern 9th and Sydney 10th. In the UK Glasgow and Birmingham are joint 56th.

86% of Organisations Experiencing Recruitment Difficulties

According to the 2008 CIPD Recruitment, Retention and Turnover survey current and emerging trends in people resourcing practice, 86% of organisations still experience recruitment difficulties. This annual benchmarking survey is based on 779 respondent organisations from the UK and relates to the period 1 January to 31 December 2007. The key reasons for recruitment difficulties, similar to last year, are a lack of necessary specialist skills in candidates (70%), followed by higher pay expectations (44%) and insufficient experience of candidates (42%). The survey also showed that appointing people who have the potential to grow but who currently don’t have all that’s required is the most frequently used initiative to overcome recruitment difficulties (75%). Although only half of the survey participants report having a formal resourcing strategy, eight in ten respondents cite attracting and recruiting key staff to the organisation as the main objective of their resourcing activities. Enabling the achievement of the organisation’s strategic goals (58%) and meeting future skills requirements (46%) are the second and third most important resourcing objectives according to survey participants. Also highlighted was the fact that recruitment initiatives having a positive impact on tackling recruitment difficulties include: providing additional training to allow internal staff to fill posts (75%), providing a realistic job preview (72%) and using the employer brand as a recruitment tool (71%). Just 32% of organisations say they make use of talent banks (ready candidate details saved electronically) before looking to recruit externally. In terms of attracting and selecting candidates, the survey showed that the most favoured methods were recruitment agencies (78%) followed by using the company’s own corporate website (75%) and local newspaper advertisements (74%) are the most common methods being used to attract candidates. The most frequently used selection methods include: interviews based on the contents of the CV/application form (72%), followed by competency-based interviews (65%). The average recruitment cost of filling a vacancy per employee is £4,667, increasing to £5,800 when organisations are also calculating the associated labour turnover costs. Source: CIPD

Elsevier Foundation Seeks Grant Proposals for Libraries

The Elsevier Foundation is seeking grant proposals for its Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries and New Scholars programs. Grant proposals for the two programs sponsored by Elsevier, a leading global publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, are due by September 15, 2008. The grants will be awarded in December 2008 and provide one, two and three year awards between US$5,000 to US$50,000 per year. The program for Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries helps libraries enhance the quality of life in developing countries by improving their ability put scientific, technical and medical information to work for those who need it. The New Scholars program helps the academic and research communities create model programs to help scholars in the early stages of their careers balance childcare and family responsibilities with the demanding academic careers in science, health and technology. The Elsevier Foundation provides grants to institutions around the world, with a focus on support for the world's libraries and for scholars in the early stages of their careers. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than 50 grants worth over a million dollars to non-profit organizations working in these fields. For more information on the program requirements and details of how to submit a proposal please visit http://www.elsevierfoundation.org/index.html

Oxford stays on top of UK University Rankings

The latest issue of The Times Good University Guide once again makes Oxford the top university, followed by Cambridge, Imperial College, London, London School of Economics, St Andrews, Warwick, University College London, Durham, York and Bristol. The top of the table is dominated by the Russell Group research-intensive universities who take 12 of the top 20 places.  Among the new universities Robert Gordon in Aberdeen is the best-placed at 54th with Oxford Brookes, the top new university in England, one place lower. The biggest movers are York (up from 16 to 9), Leicester (up from 21 to 14), Lancaster (up from 27 to 19) and Glasgow (from 31 to 20=).

High Levels of Immigration Good for the UK Economy

The report 'Migration Myths: Employment, Wages and Labour Market Performance' from The Work debunks the myths about the impact of migration on employment and wages. It shows that wages have not fallen because migrants are willing to work for less - including in key sectors such as construction and hotels. The rising National Minimum Wage has protected the most vulnerable and established a strong pay floor in the labour market. There has been no significant impact on unemployment, including youth unemployment. If there are any 'losers', they are to be found amongst the 'workless households' (families where no working age adult has a job) and amongst an earlier generation of migrant workers. The report also argues that the UK has the right policies in place (liberal product markets and flexible labour markets) to ensure that migrants find jobs quickly. The report recommends that all employment rights, including the National Minimum Wage, must be properly enforced to protect migrant workers at risk of exploitation. It appeals to the UK Government to devote sustained attention to producing high quality, consistent data and sharing it across departments and agencies. It says that too many different data sources on immigration create conflicting statistics and can feed an impression of chaos. The Government is right to base its managed migration policy on a points system, the report says. This is much better than an annual 'cap' on the number of migrants to be admitted, which fails to take account of employers' demand for labour and changing economic circumstances.

White Working-Class boys in UK Reluctant to attend University

A research study commissioned by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills shows that white teenagers are significantly less likely to go to university than their peers from ethnic minority groups, even when they have the same qualifications at A’ level. The difference is most pronounced amongst men from deprived households and suggests the emergence of an underclass of white working-class men who risk being locked out of higher education and marginalised over jobs. The study found that 23 per cent of white males intended to go to university, compared to 65 per cent of Chinese, 66 per cent of Indian and 43 per cent of black African boys. The only minority groups less likely to attend university than whites were those classified as black Caribbean and black other. Another factor is that males are being left behind in the drive to educate more young people to degree level. Women were in a minority at university until 1992, but since then the balance has shifted. Last year the proportion of young males studying at university fell from 37 per cent in 1999 to 35 per cent. Among women the figure rose from 41 per cent in 1999 to 45 per cent.

38 Black US Students Receive Prestigious UNCF/Merck Science Initiative Award

The United Negro College Fund, America’s oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization, and the global research-based pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc., have announced awards of scholarships and fellowships to 38 African-American student recipients of the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative award, during the 2008 UNCF/Merck Fellows Day. Targeting students pursuing careers in biomedical research at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels, the science initiative was first announced in 1995 with a 10-year $20 million grant from Merck to UNCF. Supported by the Merck Institute for Science Education and Merck Research Laboratories, in 2006, the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative program was renewed to provide more than $13 million in scholarship grants over five years through 2010. Each year, the initiative has provided scholarships and fellowships to promising science students, enhancing their potential with financial support, hands-on training, close mentoring relationships and institutional support. To date, 479 scholarships and fellowships have been awarded to promising African-American students through a competitive application process that selects candidates based on their academic achievements and their potential in the field of biomedical research. Fellows have gone on to pursue careers in a wide range of disciplines, from biochemistry and microbiology to pharmacology, neuroscience, biophysics, chemistry and bioengineering. African Americans, American Indians, and Latinos constitute 30 percent of the nation's undergraduate students, a proportion that is expected to grow to 32 percent in 2010 and 38 percent by 2025. During the past 10 years, African Americans have made up only three percent of the Ph.D.s in biological/biomedical sciences and chemistry. During the same time period, more than 14 percent of Ph.D.s in all life sciences and physical sciences has a bachelor’s degree from one of UNCF’s 39 member Institutions, which represent private historically black colleges and universities. The 2008 UNCF/Merck Fellows will receive awards ranging from $25,000 to $85,000 each. Chosen for their academic achievements and potential in the field of biomedical research, award recipients were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants from across the nation.

Deloitte Foundation Pledges $1 million to Accounting Education

The Deloitte Foundation, the non-profit arm of leading professional services firm Deloitte, has renewed its commitment to addressing the accounting Ph.D. faculty shortage by pledging $500,000 to the American Accounting Association (AAA)/Deloitte/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium and to supporting educational programs for accounting professors by pledging $500,000 to the Robert M. Trueblood Seminars for Professors. The $1 million gift to the AAA will fund approximately four years of doctoral consortia as well as the 2009 and 2010 Trueblood Seminars. The 38th Annual AAA Doctoral Consortium, a week-long program on accounting research and education for more than 80 of the nation's top accounting Ph.D. students, kicks off on June 18, 2008, in Tahoe City, California. With too few students choosing to pursue an accounting doctoral degree, there is a shortage of future Ph.D.s in the pipeline as well as in the current marketplace to replace the rising number of retirees. Several studies have shown that the shortage will become more severe in the coming years and could potentially threaten the sustainability of accounting degree programs. The shortage is particularly acute in the areas of audit and tax. By funding key Ph.D. education initiatives, such as the Doctoral Fellowship and Doctoral Consortium programs, the Foundation is hoping to alleviate some of the issues contributing to the increased scarcity of accounting faculty. The Deloitte Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports teaching, research and curriculum innovation in accounting, business and related fields within the United States.

Demotivation leads to Employee Instability

New research has revealed that one in three UK employees is demotivated at work, and, significantly, 43% are considering taking action and leaving their job in the next 12 months. The research, which carried out by YouGov on behalf of Investors in People UK, found that the top three demotivating factors for employees were an unreasonable workload (18%), feeling underpaid (18%) and a lack of clear career path (17%). Overall, nearly half of employees (44%) claim their organisation has failed to continue supporting their career development beyond their initial induction period. Over a quarter (28%) of employees also said they felt unsupported by their managers. Commenting on the findings, Simon Jones, Chief Executive at Investors in People UK, said, “This research reveals a worrying picture, not only because such a significant proportion of UK employees are demotivated, but because it suggests that valuable employees may be heading for the door. It’s also important to highlight that employees that have been with an organisation for just one to two years are most likely to want to leave, given nearly half claim their employers focus their efforts on the initial induction stage but then, as employees settle in, let employee development fall down the list of priorities.” The research encourages employers to provide support when it comes to mapping out career paths and identifying relevant training and development as those that don’t, risk losing valuable talent and experience. Source: Recruitment Matters.

UK Small Business Owners Remain Optimistic

A survey of small business owners undertaken by Deloitte and the London Business School has found that they remain optimistic about their prospects for the rest of the year, despite the gathering storm of the credit squeeze. The report reveals that just over half of the company heads interviewed had already been hit but that 45 per cent still expected revenue growth to exceed 20 per cent this year. Tony Cohen, head of entrepreneurial business for Deloitte, says that the resilience in the face of one of the toughest environments for many years is partly due to the innate optimism of many entrepreneurs. Others have likened the current tightening of the credit markets as a slow-motion car crash, which will inevitably catch up with smaller, high-growth businesses. Duncan Cheatle, founder of The Supper Club, a networking group for high-growth businesses, says that his members are cautiously optimistic, although those that require funding are finding the process hard. Those that have had to borrow have found lenders linking offers to Libor instead of the lower base rate. Source: Financial Times.

Low-skilled British workers are Unemployable and Lack Motivation

The arrival of an estimated one million eastern European migrants has not increased unemployment among native Britons or lowered their wages according to a study published by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It says that while migrants from the eight former Soviet bloc states that joined the EU in 2004 found it easy to find work, Britons encountered difficulties because of “issues around basic employability, skills, incentives and motivation”. The study calls for government policy to help low-skilled Britons by ensuring that they look for available work and providing education and training to make them employable. Home Office studies have highlighted how employers preferred the general attitude and work ethic of the eastern Europeans to those of British workers. One study said that migrant workers “tended to be more motivated, reliable and committed than domestic workers”. Hotel and catering employers said that they could not find British workers willing to work flexible hours. Separate Home Office research shows that immigration has contributed £1,650 to every British person’s output over the past ten years. The DWP study, which was carried out by Jonathan Portes, the department’s chief economist, and Sara Lemos of Leicester University, says that there is no evidence that immigration has any negative impacts on the labour market. David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that the reluctance of Britons to work was due to the benefits culture and that migrant workers had served both business and the economy extremely well in recent years.

Half of UK Firms Lack Management Expertise

The UK’s biggest skills shortages are in management, with half of UK organisations claiming to struggle with gaps in expertise at management level, according to a snap poll carried out by People Management. The research also shows that while most organisations (81 per cent) are experiencing skills shortages in general, many HR departments are failing to tackle the problem effectively. Only 20 per cent of respondents said they had a talent management programme in place – perhaps surprising considering the war for talent is a major concern for organisations worldwide. And 11 per cent of respondents said they had got involved with the relevant sector skills council in an attempt to address the shortages. However, HR professionals appear optimistic about the future, as more than half (54 per cent) of those surveyed by PM thought the supply of skills in the UK would improve within the next five years. That optimism could be credited to recent proactive steps by the government to address skills shortages; more than four-fifths (83 per cent) of respondents agreed that the expansion of apprenticeships would help close the skills gap. And nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) thought raising the age of compulsory education or training to 18 years old would help, too. Source: PM Online.

BSR Protects International Labour

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has launched a two-year initiative to help protect the rights of international labour migrants along global supply chains in South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the Gulf States and Africa. The program, made possible with generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will respond to the increasing needs of people seeking economic opportunities outside of their home countries. Labour migrants now represent roughly 190 million people, or about 3 percent of the global population. Though international labour migration has traditionally involved the movement of workers from the developing world to industrialized economies, the movement of workers within the developing world is accelerating rapidly. Nonetheless, there are no clear recommendations for how multinational companies can help with research, dialogue and policy on this issue, which is central to their business. BSR's work will leverage primary and secondary research, pilot projects and multi-stakeholder strategy sessions with multinational companies, their suppliers in developing countries, policymakers, labour representatives and migrant workers. At the second Global Forum on Migration and Development in Manila in October 2008 (www.gfmd2008.org), BSR will represent the private sector alongside a diverse group of stakeholders. BSR will also issue a trends report that includes initial recommendations for the private sector on protecting the rights of labour migrants.

New Loans to Help UK’s Enterprising Women

A new £10 million loan fund has been launched to provide finance, training and mentoring for East of England women looking to start or grow a business. Enterprising Women, the business community for female entrepreneurs, has teamed up with Lloyds TSB Commercial to provide the scheme, which aims to tackle the lack of funding and fear of debt that are often cited as real obstacles to female entrepreneurship. Women will be able to apply for up to £30,000 in any one application, with loans to be repaid over a four year period. Training will also be available through a Market and Finance Readiness for Women course, which will be tailored specifically for the needs of women-owned businesses, and a number of mentors will be on hand to offer support to help with the challenge of setting up and running a company. Bev Hurley, chief executive of YTKO - the company behind Enterprising Women - says research has revealed that women were often offered inferior funding deals. The loan fund will officially open in September, but entrepreneurs who feel as if they have a solid business plan already in place are advised to get in touch with Enterprising Women now to start the application process.

US$1 Million Rio Tinto Alcan Prize for Sustainability Open For Entries

Rio Tinto Alcan and the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) have announced that the US$1 million Rio Tinto Alcan Prize for Sustainability 2008 is now open for entries. Information on eligibility criteria and how to enter the Prize is available at www.alcanprizeforsustainability.com. The closing date for receipt of entries is midnight, 12 September 2008 (GMT). The Rio Tinto Alcan Prize is open to all not-for-profit, non-governmental, and civil society organizations based anywhere in the world that are working to advance the goals of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The Prize was created to recognize the not-for-profit sector for its contributions to global sustainability both in the community and more widely by influencing policy. In addition to the US$1 million Prize, nine grants worth US$15,000 each will be awarded to the shortlisted NGOs to invest in one of the following three approved courses: the postgraduate certificate in cross-sector partnership at Cambridge University, the LEAD Fellows training programme or the postgraduate certificate in sustainable development from the University of London. Previous winners of the Prize include the Forest Stewardship Council (2004), the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services Pakistan (2005), the Barefoot College (2006) and the Utthan Centre for Sustainable Development and Poverty Alleviation (2007).

Academic Visitors to UK Can stay for One Year

The UK Border Agency has published the government’s response to the recent consultation on academic visitors. The consultation was of concern to the higher education sector as it suggested that the maximum length of time an academic visitor could come to the UK was likely to be reduced from twelve months to six or even three months. UK Higher Education institutions welcome many thousands of academic visitors every year and that these visitors make an important contribution to the sector. In the response to the consultation that the academic visitor concession would stay and would be brought within a new category of ‘Special Visitors’ within the ‘Business Visitor’ route, the Border Agency issued a statement that it envisages that Academic visitors will be provided for in the newly defined business visitor route but with exceptional provision for up to 12 months’ leave. More information on the new business visitor arrangements is due to be published in September and implemented later in 2008. Source: Universities UK.

UK Business ‘Punches Above Its Weight’

The UK continues to “punch above its weight” on the global business stage and attract record levels of inward investment, according to the former head of the CBI. Lord Digby Jones made the claim after official figures showed a 23% rise in jobs created by new investment into companies during the past year. The inward investment results for 2007/2008 revealed 45,000 new jobs were created last year by companies launching or expanding businesses in the UK, whilst a further 58,000 jobs were safeguarded during the same period. Investment projects rose for a fifth successive year, with the total number rising by 10% to a record 1,570, whilst the number of new investments involving research and development rose by a staggering 83%. Spending on environmental technologies was another growth area, with 59 total investments marking an increase of 22% on the previous year. Despite the uncertainty about the state of their economy, firms from the USA accounted for 30% of all new investments over the past year. Source: UK Trade & Investment, 02/07/2008.

US Study links Racially Distinctive Speech to Lower Incomes

A new research report says people "whose voices were distinctly identified as black by anonymous listeners earn about 10 percent less than whites with similar observable skills." Jeffrey Grogger, a professor at the University of Chicago, describes his findings in a paper entitled "Speech Patterns and Racial Wage Inequality”. Speech patterns differ substantially between whites and African Americans, says Grogger in his analysis of data on speech patterns to understand the role they may play in explaining racial wage differences. Among blacks, speech patterns are highly correlated with measures of skill such as schooling and ASVAB scores. They are also highly correlated with the wages of young workers. Black speakers whose voices were distinctly identified as black by anonymous listeners earn about 10 percent less than whites with similar observable skills. Indistinctly identified blacks earn about 2 percent less than comparable whites. Source: USA Today

UK to Increase Trade to Africa to $ 750 million by 2010

The United Kingdom will be spending some $ 750 million in Africa by 2010, through its "Aid for Trade" strategy forming part of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). This is according to the UK Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Consumer Affairs, Gareth Thomas. EPAs are agreements entered into by each African country, committing to certain trade agreements with the European Union (EU), in an effort to create free trade areas (FTAs). South Africa is the most significant source of investment in Africa delivering about $1 billion a year to Africa. Trade liberalisation and the opening up of economies has accounted for a reduction in poverty by 80 percent worldwide accounting for about half a billion people. The European Union (EU) will be looking to convince many African countries of the advantages of opening up their economies, reducing import duties and creating FTAs.

International Graduates Can Stay Longer in the UK

The UK Border Agency has announced the start of the new Post-Study Work scheme. This scheme, part of Tier 1 (highly-skilled migrants) of the new points-based immigration system, will allow international graduates to apply to stay in the UK for up to two years after finishing their programmes. This scheme replaces the previous International Graduates Scheme (covering England, Northern Ireland and Wales) and the Fresh Talent scheme (covering Scotland). This new scheme should provide a significant addition to the UK offer to international students and it also provides important recognition of the value of international graduates to the UK. It is clear that international students are keen to gain a high-quality academic qualification but that they also wish to build on that academic experience with a period of work experience. To apply under the points-based system and be accepted into the post-study work category, applicants must pass a points-based assessment. Applicants must score 75 points for ‘attributes’. Source: Universities UK.

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