Card sharp:
Have you ever gone “AAARgghHHH!” when you realised you had accidently erased some pictures from your digital camera ‘s SmartMedia card? Well, this Windows freeware claims it will recover deleted images from cards.

Why Birmingham needs a robust graduate-retention scheme:
Some interesting statistics from Birmingham’s Economic Information Centre have got me thinking. In 1961 less than one in five jobs in Birmingham was taken by a commuter. By 1991 it was more than one in three. In 2001 it was approaching one in two. Admittedly the figures have been skewed because many skilled workers fled ‘crime & grime’ to move down to Solihull; which is effectively ‘Birmingham’ although not apparently counted as such. Also, many now commute simply because it’s been made possible since 1961 by new motorways and mass car-ownership. But it’s true to say that, especially among the ‘creative class’ (May 5th), commuting is the norm. Now the official EIF forecast is that B’ham is likely to require 25,000 new workers by 2010. Many of those will need to be from the highly trained ‘creative class’. Where will they come from? Not from the traditional commuter-belt; full-employment beckons in much of the wider West Midlands; people hate commuting as the roads clog and the rail system declines; many smaller IT and media businesses anyway prefer civilised fringe towns like Lichfield or peaceful rural barns in Warwickshire. Will the 25,000 jobs be filled by re-skilling the 15,000 Brummie manufacturing workers forecast to loose their jobs by 2010? Unlikely; even if they could all be persuaded out of their ‘car-worker mindset’ and successfully shunted through A-levels, a degree & a master’s degree in seven years, and then be persuaded to stay in the city, B’ham would still face a shortfall of some 10,000 workers. Nor are the 25,000 likely to come from the rump of long-term unemployed in the inner-city wards; getting them from simply learning how to read & write English to performing a skilled professional/creative job – involving constant high-level flexible multi-tasking and lateral thinking – is asking too much of a system of dumbed-down ‘lifelong learning’ and patchy ‘on the job’ training-provision. Add to all this a near 6 percent decline in Birmingham’s population since 1981. So; it strikes me that Birmingham can build as many billion-pound Learning Quarters and Cultural Incubators as we like but, unless we can fill them with people who can really do the jobs involved, the planned shining towers will just be half-empty memorials to vanity. The West Midlands universities desperately need a strongly pro-active and incentive-packed graduate retention scheme now, spotting the best talent before they go home to their parents at the end of their degree and never return. 1,000 graduates saved per year over eight years = 8,000, enough to at least supply the ‘creative class’ jobs.

Swanning around, part two:


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