Archive for May, 2013

6 Reasons Why NEETs Should Pass Their Test Even If They Don’t Have A Car

Guest Blog from Erika Bergeson: 

Many teenagers dream of the day that will be old enough to learn to drive. They start their driving lessons, and then start to think about which car they would like. They often look at the cars that their family and friends are driving, or what they think is cool! Some put off learning to drive, because they cannot afford a car, but they could still go ahead and learn quite easily.

Job Opportunity – One good reason for learning to drive young, is the fact that it can be added to your CV. This could prove to be a valuable asset to have when the time comes to looking for a career opportunity. If you can already drive, you can look further afield for employment and worry about getting a car to use, once you have got the position. Make sure you choose the right profession though, as car insurance can be higher if you do an at risk job!

Car Insurance – Did you know that by learning to drive young, and passing your test, will actually help you to get cheaper insurance than if you wait until you are older. By waiting until you can afford a car, you are not gaining anything. The longer that you hold a full driving licence can reduce the cost of your insurance.  Parents can add you to their car insurance, and may get it a lot cheaper than you getting it independently. This will also help you to gain more driving experience until you can afford a car.

Driving Lessons – The longer that you wait to learn to drive, will push up the cost of your driving lessons. They increase annually, and offers that are available for driving lessons now, will not be as cheap this time next year.  You now have to take your Theory Test and Hazard Perception Test, which are presently available to practice online for free with several websites. This may not be the case in another year.  National driving schools, such as Drive Dynamics, give you free access to practice on your Theory and Hazard Perception tests as often as you like, when learning to drive with them, so why wait?  You may find that the cost of your driving test also increases again, and yet again you will have missed out!

Time To Learn – As you leave school and start a career, or go to University, time is not always available for driving lessons. This is another good reason for you take your lessons as a teenager.  You have 13 weeks holiday per year from school, and always arrive home before tea time, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn to drive. If you do not set aside time, you will regret it later on in life, and miss out. If you cannot fit in lessons over long periods of time, then you could look at an intensive driving course to lessen the time.

Independence And Maturity – Imagine how you would feel walking into school or college and announcing to everyone that you had passed your driving test. You would finally have the independence you desired, to get out and about, without having to ask for lifts everywhere. You can sweet talk Mum and Dad to lend their car, and the world is your oyster! It also makes you feel like an adult instead of just being another teenager. You are different, you can drive!

Ability To Learn – Children always have a natural ability to learn and soak up knowledge presented to them. This ability carries on right through your teenage years, and the Theory and Hazard Perception Test is easier for teenagers to memorise. Whilst in education, they learn new concepts quicker, and have the ability to remember things.  As you get older, and you start work, get married, start a family, you find it harder to memorise things. This is a good reason for teenagers to learn to drive, as they are willing to practice and learn driving skills, and are sharper minded to remember the skills taught to them.

Learning to drive at any age gives you independence, and is a great asset to have, but you will benefit more if you learn when younger. The scope it will give you in life is invaluable.


About the Author: Ericka Bergeson is a passionate business coach for small to medium sized businesses. When she isn’t working, she loves to write about a variety of topics, including business.



How to set up your own business



Have you ever thought about becoming your own boss and running your own business? Maybe you have recently been laid off and have some redundancy money that could set you up in a new career? Or maybe unemployment  has awoken your inner entrepreneur?

There are many advantages to working for yourself:

  • You can work the hours you choose
  • You can fit in around family commitments (if your business allows it)
  • You are your own boss
  • You can set up a business in an industry/service you have a passion for

Where to start?

Firstly, you need to think about the type of business you are planning to set up. Experience will always be a bonus but start locally with your research. Is there a gap in the market for a particular product/business or service? Do as much research as you can into competitors, cost of premises, overheads etc.

Perhaps you can set up an online business? Again, check out the competition and don’t order more stock in than you think you can realistically sell!

Write a business plan. This will help you think through your idea and can be presented to a bank if you need to ask for a loan.

Things to be aware of:

  • Setting up your own business can require a lot of initial financial investment and it may take a year or two of long hours and hard work to build your business up profitably.
  • With any business that you set up there are invariably risks you have to take.
  • You will need to take matters such as tax and national insurance into your own hands and ensure that all your paperwork is accurate and up to date.  Of course there are always tax advisers/book keepers and accountants that you can employ to help you out with that.

Useful websites:

Business Link is an excellent Government run website that gives advice on all aspects of setting up and marketing your own business. They also run free local training courses that will teach you all you need to know about setting up by yourself.

For tax matters then see HM Revenue and Customs website which explains what you need to do to get started. It’s not as complicated as you may think!



A Guide to Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have never been more accessible and attractive to both employees and employers than they are in the current job market climate.  But if you’re looking for an apprenticeship where do you start and who can you go to for advice on getting on the right track?

Apprenticeships are an exciting way to make your mark in industry with some of the UK’s brightest and most innovative companies.  From Burberry to Dove to Costa Coffee and Converse shoes these are just some of the innovative companies you can join an apprenticeship scheme with.    The British Army has one of the most extensive and trusted apprenticeship schemes with about 75% of new soldiers taking part and over 5,500 completing their apprenticeship training each year.

Being an apprentice can give you an amazing edge over university graduates.  Why?  Because in the four years it takes a graduate to qualify and apply you’ve already spent four years getting to know the company and your role inside out.

So how do apprenticeships work?  Well they are just like a permanent job in that you get paid for the work you do.  The government has set a minimum wage for anyone taking part in apprenticeships.  Currently this is £2.65 per hour.

Apprenticeships can also be a route to attaining special technical certificates, such as a BTEC or City & Guilds Progression Award whilst giving you the benefits of being paid to train and earn your own money. In many circumstances, an apprentice can essentially be paid to progress their way through Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, and Level 5 of the NVQ.

The majority of apprenticeships involve learning a trade skill through manual labour, manufacturing or creative industries – you will find them very hands roles that will require a knowledge for working with complex machinery or apparatus specific to that job role.

If you’re looking for where to start in applying for an apprenticeship visit your local council website as they have sections dedicated to apprenticeships and getting started.  The National Apprenticeship Service website has a wealth of information to get you started ( and covers all the valuable information such as getting paid, holiday entitlement and even a search option to help you find the right apprenticeship scheme for you.

You can also use social media to help you in your search for an apprenticeship. Employers are realising the benefits of social media to reach new employees and through the web you can find companies in your desired field, and connect with them directly to find out about apprenticeship opportunities.

There are a number of useful resources to be found on Twitter. Head-hunters, government labour organizations, large corporations, and job placement agencies all use social media to advertise positions and job vacancies.

Worth a follow is the account @apprenticeships which is the British government’s official apprenticeship program account, and the @millionextra account for City & Guilds Million Extra Apprenticeships drive who both post opportunities and info daily.

Facebook is another great tool for finding information about employers and apprenticeship programs one of the most regularly updated profiles to check out is




Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Your online reputation is one of the most valuable things you own and is as important as your resume.  It is out there representing you—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—and it speaks for you when you aren’t even present.  It acts as your resume, telling potential employers all they need to know.  It serves as your personal matchmaker—offering would-be paramours an insider’s view of your life.  And it often tells resourceful customers whether they want to do business with you.

Even if you your online rep is seemingly perfect, do not be lulled into complacency.  No one is exempt from the need to monitor and maintain a squeaky-clean Internet image.  Even if the web currently depicts you as a modern day Ghandi, it will take dedication and effort to ensure that your reputation remains solid gold.

Here are some tips that will help you foster a desirable online reputation.

1.       Monitor your image closely. 

A nasty post can appear faster than a snowflake falls, so it is important that you Google, Bing, and Yahoo your name often.  You can’t fix something if you are blissfully unaware that it has been broken in the first place.  You should also pay a visit to any review sites that are connected with your industry. You may not know what others are saying about you, but the person that wants to hire you will definitely be interested.

2.       Share selectively. 

You’ve likely encountered the person on Facebook or Twitter who feels compelled to share every detail of her life with her followers.  Perhaps, you have even blocked this person completely.  Don’t be the annoying “friend” that everyone wishes would simply shut up.

Make sure that you only share content that is interesting, informative, and purposeful.  It needs to be worth reading and, ideally, worth passing on.  And avoid complaining.  No one wants to listen to you rant and whine, specially your future boss.

3.       Own your negatives. 

Don’t panic if you find a negative Google review.  No one is perfect—not even the modern day Ghandi.  You will make mistakes.  The important thing is how you handle them.

The best way to respond to negative feedback is to be a consummate professional.  Treat people with respect and apologize immediately.  Make sure you strive to correct the situation in a timely fashion.

Remember that other people will be watching to see how you respond to criticism, so make sure you handle yourself well.  And never delete a negative comment.  This will tell others that you cannot be trusted. The last thing you want is to raise any red flags in the mind of a prospective recruiter.

4. Maintain your privacy. 

Your personal interactions with close friends and relatives need to stay exactly that—personal.  Ensure that the privacy settings on each of your social media tools are set for the maximum protection of your private information.  Block others from being able to tag you in photos, so that you can be sure that party shots won’t wind up public property.  That’s certainly not something you want a potential employer to see.

5.       Join professional organizations. 

Set up sites that highlight your professional expertise and accomplishments like LinkedIn and Google+.  Be sure to use the profile sections of these tools to maximize your online image and impress potential clients and employers.

If you belong to other professional organizations, service clubs, or industry-specific networks, be sure to include these on your profile. The more positive items there are for potential employers to find, the less likely they will find the negative stuff.

While your paper resume is a valuable tool, it pales in comparison to your online reputation.  Everyone who wants to know more about you will seek you out online. Employers do this all the time, before even considering a face-to-face meeting.  You must ensure that what they find is accurate, positive, and most importantly—representative of the real you.

What do you think are some definite “no-no’s,” when it comes to creating a positive online reputation?



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