Monday, August 1, 2016

UK home ownership at lowest in 30 years; KPMG changes interview style to suit millennials; Norway paradox: Climate leader and oil explorer

1 UK home ownership at lowest in 30 years (Hilary Osborne in The Guardian) Home ownership in England has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years as the growing gap between earnings and property prices has created a housing crisis that extends beyond London to cities including Manchester.

The struggle to get on the housing ladder is not just a feature of the London property market, according to a new report by the Resolution Foundation thinktank, with Greater Manchester seeing as big a slump in ownership since its peak in the early 2000s as parts of the capital, and cities in Yorkshire and the West Midlands also seeing sharp drops.

Home ownership across England reached a peak in April 2003, when 71% of households owned their home, either outright or with a mortgage, but by February this year the figure had fallen to 64%, the Resolution Foundation said.

The figure is the lowest since 1986, when homeownership levels were on the way up, with a housing market boom fuelled by the deregulation of the mortgage industry and the introduction of the right-to-buy policy for council homes by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

The Resolution Foundation’s analysis highlights the scale of the job faced by the prime minister, Theresa May, who has pledged to tackle the housing deficit. May warned last month that unless the issue was dealt with “young people will find it even harder to afford their own home. The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced. And more and more of the country’s money will go into expensive housing.”

Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “London has a well-known and fully blown housing crisis but the struggle to buy a home is just as big a problem in cities across the north of England.”

2 KPMG changes interview style to suit millennials (BBC) Accountancy firm KPMG has changed its graduate recruitment process to suit people born between 1980 and 2000 - the so-called millennial generation.

Instead of conducting three separate assessments over several weeks, it will now combine the process into one day. The firm says the change will mean applicants will find out if they have got a job within two working days. It made the change following research suggesting millennials were frustrated by lengthy recruitment processes.

The biggest complaint, made by more than half of those surveyed, was about not receiving any feedback if they were unsuccessful. KPMG chairman Simon Collins said the company felt it had to make the changes to make sure it could compete with smaller start-up or tech firms, which often offer a faster recruitment process, to secure the best graduate employees.

In June, Goldman Sachs said it had scrapped face-to-face interviews on university campuses in a bid to attract a wider range of talent. The US investment bank has now switched to video interviews with first-round undergraduate candidates, in a move aimed at helping it to attract graduate recruits from a broader range of disciplines.

And last year, professional services firm professional services firm Deloitte said it had changed its selection process so recruiters did not know where candidates had gone to school or university. It said the move was aimed at preventing "unconscious bias" and recruiting a more diverse "talent pool".

Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Several surveys suggest that these younger workers are not motivated by the same factors as previous generations, such as a job for life, but instead value a good work-life balance and a sense of purpose beyond financial success.

3 Norway paradox: Climate leader and oil explorer (San Francisco Chronicle) Norway wants to get rid of gasoline-fueled cars, plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 and spends billions on helping poor countries reduce their carbon footprints. Meanwhile, it's pushing ever farther into the Arctic Ocean in search of more oil and gas.

"We know there is a paradox," admits Vidar Helgesen, Norway's climate and energy minister. "We have been living well from oil and gas. But there is no country in the world that has done more to undermine the oil and gas industry than Norway."

The mountainous Scandinavian country of 5 million people is torn between its ambition to be a global leader on climate change and the awareness that its wealth is linked to the world's dependence on fossil fuels.

This apparent contradiction is particularly striking in Stavanger, Norway's oil capital. The streams of Teslas driven by oil workers through the streets of Stavanger attest to the rich subsidies the government has poured into the electric car market. E-cars have zero import duty, sales tax is a quarter less than for conventional vehicles and most roads are free.

In June, lawmakers forced through a commitment for Norway to become carbon neutral by 2030 — some 20 years ahead of schedule. But Norway is accused of environmental hypocrisy, grandstanding overseas with environmental projects while allowing its domestic oil and gas industry to pump ever larger quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. Plans for carbon neutrality involve buying credits for helping reduce emissions abroad.

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