Jobs agency can’t fill own vacancies

On September 19, 2012, in Home & Work, UK & EU, by Weird

Sweden’s public employment agency, whose task is to help unemployed Swedes to find work, has been forced to hire a staffing agency to fill vacancies on its own staff.

In a recently inked deal, the state-run Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) has turned to the Proffice staffing agency, which will help the agency recruit people to fill openings for recruiters, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reported.

According to the deal for “recruitment services”, Proffice will be paid 24,000 kronor ($3,640) by the agency per recruitment, including interviewing and checking references.

Annette Ekström of the Public Employment Service told DN that her agency needs to recruit between 700 and 800 people per year.

While it remains unclear how many of the openings will is expected to help fill, Ekström didn’t think there was anything odd about Sweden’s employment agency hiring a staffing service to help them find workers.

“We are devoted to helping jobseekers find work. That’s what we’re best at. Employment officers have substantial training. When we recruit our staff, we use our human resources department or a staffing company,” she told the paper.

Last year, the Sweden’s six largest staffing agencies billed the Public Employment Service 38 million kronor, according to DN.

However, news that the state-run agency needed outside help to meet its ongoing recruitment challenge left some from experts scratching their heads.

“It’s sort of funny and says a lot about the agency. It reflects low self-confidence,” Stefan Fölster, head economist with the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) told DN.

Rune Premfors, a political scientist at Stockholm University and expert on public administration said the practice “raised eyebrows”.

“What’s surprising is that this is an agency that is supposed to have a lot of competence – that’s a paradox,” he told the newspaper.

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A young mother of twins decided to conduct potty training at a dining table in a popular Utah deli.

The picture an onlooker snapped and posted on Facebook has a lot of people talking.

If anyone understands how stressful potty-training can be, it’s mother of three, Kimberly Decker.

In fact, she just finished potty training her little boy and couldn’t leave her house for several days during the process.

That’s why she was so shocked at what she witnessed Tuesday at the Thanksgiving Point Deli.

“I noticed that this lady was having her two – she had two twins, two little girls about 2-and-a-half years old, sitting on what I thought were booster seats,” Decker said.

But after doing a double take, she realized they weren’t booster seats, they were child port-a-potties.

“She had to undo the jumpsuits, and take them all the way down so they were completely nude, with the jumpsuits down to their ankles just eating their chicken nuggets, sitting on little toddler potties,” Decker said.

Decker snapped a picture on her cell phone, while she and her friend stared in awe.

“The more you thought about it, the more unappetizing everything looked around me,” Decker said. “I was like this is not ok, we’re eating, there was a business meeting with about five or six businessmen going on right next to me. The place was packed.”

Spokeswoman for Thanksgiving Point, Erica Brown, said they received several complaints from patrons.

Their staff didn’t realize what was going on among the crowd until after it was already over, but she added they would have asked the woman to leave and take the potty training into the restroom.

“I think state and local health codes were probably an issue, as well as just social norms,” Brown said.

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56-year-old Pauline Long from Portland, Oregon, has transformed herself into a mermaid for an afternoon and took a quick dip in her neighborhood pool.

Folks have been buzzing about this for a few days now after Long (who goes by Myst when she’s in mermaid mode) made her big debut earlier this week at Pier Pool in North Portland.

“They were kind of looking like ‘uh, ok.’ ” Long said when we talked to her on Thursday and asked what kind of reaction she got that first time. “There was a little girl on the side (of the pool) yelling ‘mommy look – a mermaid, a mermaid!’ ”

“It was really cool, but somehow strange,” said Jonathon Penner, one of several kids at the pool who were fascinated, and perhaps a little perplexed, at seeing a real live mermaid (ok, someone dressed up as one) at the pool. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was kind of weird.”

“I think it’s cool because no one else really does that,” 10-year-old Rebecca White told us when we asked her what she thought about it all. And that tail? “I kind of want one,” she said.

So does Long really think she’s a mermaid? No, of course she doesn’t – it’s all just for fun. And she enjoys the way it makes her feel.

“It’s graceful,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a size 2 or a size 22, you’re graceful as you are. You’re actually more graceful in the water than maybe on land. It’s just a great feeling.”

“It’s creative, fun loving and she’s enjoying life,” said Sandra Parks, a woman who was at the pool when we stopped by. She told us she thought it was wonderful what Long was doing. “She obviously has some limitations there with mobility, but she’s just enjoying it.”

Long has disabilities that she deals with and said spending time at the pool helps her out physically. And of course swimming in a mermaid suit is a good workout, as you can imagine. She said you basically do constant dolphin kicks to keep yourself afloat.

“Just doing it a couple of times this week I’ve got sore muscles,” she said. “With the one fin, the monofin, it really gives you a good core workout.”

So does Long plan on doing this some more? You bet she does, although she said she doesn’t plan on being a mermaid every day, just every now and then. So you might spot ‘Myst’ at Pier Pool or you might not, depending on the day.

Long is actually part of a group of a couple of dozen mermaids here in the Portland area called Northwest Mermaid Pod. She said they are planning to do a group swim, in full costume, coming up on August 19 at the McMenamins Kennedy School.

And Long (along with her fiance) also dresses up as a pirate and attends festivals and charity events. She said she first got the idea to become a mermaid after seeing some in costume at a pirate festival.

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Fashion statement backfires

On July 21, 2012, in Society & Culture, by Weird

A woman’s experiment in high fashion backfired when she debuted it in public.

This woman, named only as Miss Chen from Shaanxi province, designed her sackcloth clothes as a statement, saying she wants people to return to a “simple life.”

But local media reported that her alternative clothes had little impact on passers-by when she strutted her stuff in the dress made from old flour bags.

One man said; “I felt sorry for her. I just thought she couldn’t afford a proper dress.”

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The leader of a Russian nationalist party has come up with a rather unique vacation idea.

He suggested that all the country’s journalists take a one-month vacation to relieve the “news pressure” on the public.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, said his party wants the country to take a month off from the “news pressure” by ceasing all news media operations for a full month, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

“The LDPR party proposes that all Russian media bosses give their employees a one-month vacation, for example, from July 15 to Aug. 15. The incessant news machine should be stopped,” Zhirinovsky said Tuesday while addressing the State Duma.

“There is a tremendous flow of filth coming from all the TV and radio channels that has a harmful effect on people’s health. Look at any news report: murders, blasts, wars, violence, clashes, detentions are all around.”

Zhirinovsky said the State Duma recently rejected an LDPR proposal to limit negative news to 20 percent of all televised news stories.

“Journalists … don’t your nerves need a rest?” he asked.

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‘Sexual athletics’ on a riverside bench has been alarming guests at a top-class hotel.

The seat, across the River Welland from The Cley Hall Hotel in Spalding, Lincolnshire, has become a love bench for couples drinking and having sex well into the early hours.

Sometimes the sessions go on so long they could even be classed as turning love making into ‘an Olympic sport’, according to a local councillor calling for the bench to be moved.

Coun Christine Lawton said: “It’s not just happening for a short time – it’s become like sexual athletics and you could even say they are turning it into an Olympic sport. It’s such a problem for the hotel and it’s giving guests the totally wrong impression of Spalding.”

Passions cooled over winter, but the problem – mostly involving ‘the under-30s and Eastern Europeans’, according to hotel co-owner David Stanbridge – hotted up again during the recent warm spell.

He said it was time the couples got a room as he and his business partner, Rob Andrew, were working hard to build the 17-bedroom Grade II listed Georgian hotel into a five-star facility for the town.

Mr Stanbridge said: “We took over last July and started renovating the hotel and it’s been a problem since then. We get people staying here from all over the world – from Holland, America and New Zealand – and it isn’t painting a good impression of Spalding or the hotel.”

“As well as sex on the bench, there’s often drinking and shouting until 3am, people urinating in the river, and a problem with rubbish. People don’t like walking there – one lady got mugged – and all the dog bins are full of beer cans.”

Mr Stanbridge said the police had been very helpful, but even they were getting sick of it now.

He said: “The police said ‘call us anytime’, but sometimes it’s happening three times a day.”

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