Author Archives: Asya Gadzheva

Graduate recruitment to fall under Brexit

Several job sectors are expected to be negatively affected by Brexit, with concerns over implications on the graduate labour market. Graduate recruitment has been steadily decreasing since 2016.

The certainty of landing a job is now a serious concern for a growing number of UK and EU nationals just entering the job market.

Data from Prospects reveals that the number of 21-year-olds entering the job market is projected to fall from 845,000 in 2015 to 742,000 in 2023 and is not expected to return to the optimum until 2028.

While Brexit has already affected the number of EU-born applicants, with a seven per cent fall since Brexit, it is also expected to have implications for graduate employment. This year’s university graduates will enter a job market, which is lacking stability as well as available vacancies.

A report by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has revealed that there is a shortage of available candidates to fill available vacancies even before Brexit has hit the economy. Although that is a general concern, certain sectors will feel the shortage more severely and are expected to either tighten budgets or reduce staff.

The current state of the UK job market might have serious consequences for graduate employment and the overall availability of certain sectors.

Job sectors, which are likely to be negatively affected by Brexit in terms of work force, are accountancy, banking and finance, law, retail and media, communications and advertising and PR. Finding a job will arguably be harder for graduates, which will go into employment after graduating.


Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

The media sector will experience the economic impact of Brexit, whereby less funding will go into the sector. Less money would inevitably lead to less hired employees.

For journalism and other media students, this will mean a shortage of available vacancies and a reluctance to hire fresh talent, which could prove damaging both for the creative input of the industry and the motivation of media graduates to enter into it.

UK’s work force is disappearing even before Brexit

UK business are struggling with a lack of skilled candidates to fill vacancies even before Brexit hits according to a Recruitment and Employment Confederation report. The job market is experiencing the sharpest decline in available candidates, while the number of vacancies increases.

A shortage of relevant skills and experience across a range of roles is already affecting employers prior to the restrictions on the EU working force in the UK taking place.

“Demand for staff is growing within all sectors and all regions of the UK, but there are fewer and fewer people available to fill the vacancies,” Kevin Green, The REC chief executive, said for the Guardian.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU was strongly influenced by EU nationals allegedly taking up jobs due to their freedom of movement and work rights. The reality of the job market now, however, seems to reflect a wide availability of vacancies with no available candidates to fill them.

British workers, businesses report, are not prone to undertaking certain jobs. What Brexit can lead to is a dangerous shortage of candidates to enter certain sectors, as UK nationals are not expected to compensate. Workforce from the EU is key for businesses such as construction, hotels and leisure and maintenance and the impact of restrictions on their working rights can be badly felt.


Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

Data from The Recruitment and Employment Confederation report reveals a growing threat of declining numbers of qualified candidates in comparison to a growing demand for employees, which might be enhanced with Brexit.

The end of student apathy: 93 per cent have already registered to vote

Students and young people have always represented a problem for political campaigning. They can be difficult to approach and even more difficult to handle. According to a poll by YouthSight, this year’s general elections will not experience such a problem. Of those entitled to vote, 93 per cent have already registered to vote and are expected to do.

However, some charities strongly disagree with this data. Hope Not Hate has announced that students are expected to be underrepresented and will be rather reluctant to place a vote at all.

So what is it going to be this June? Influential student activism or predictable student pacifism?


Numbers of young voters have been steadily going down but the trend seems to be reversing. Infographic: Haonan Yuan

The relationship between young people and politics has always been tense. When it comes to engagement and particularly voting rates, accurate predictions and statistics are hard to come by. A poll across 1000 full-time undergraduate students entitled to vote revealed that the majority of students intend to vote.

What were they concerned about? The biggest concern among all polled was, quite predictably, Brexit. 72 per cent stated that it will influence their vote, while 66 per cent were confident that the EU and the NHS are on top of their concerns. Interestingly, 62 per cent said they are likely to support a party because it opposed Brexit. All in all, British youth appears to be politically engaged.

Hope Not Hate charity’s position, however, differs significantly. What the charity has warned about is that students may turn out to be underrepresented at the general elections, simply because they are unsure whether to register to vote. Those who have are equally uncertain about actually voting.

While this has been attributed to the political and social situation in the country, YouthSight’s poll revealed there is a feeling that parties do not represent their interests. Students have long campaigned for lower tuition fees, security and housing.

Is there a party which will appeal to young voters in this year’s general elections?

General elections 2017: timing, reasons and student voters

When Theresa May moved the date of the general elections forward, about three years earlier, there were speculations that such an action will strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. With the local elections under way, equally there seems to be a growing tension about what will the UK’s political scene look like in two months time.

Negotiations with EU nations are scheduled to start in June, with a new government in power. Undoubtedly, May’s timing is impeccable.

The announcement of the new election date came as a surprise. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to be held every five years, next one being in 2020. Now, the British citizens will have to elect their representatives on 8 June 2017.

With Parliament breaking up on 3 May to allow for a month of campaigning, a poll by YouthSight and HEPI revealed that there is a record number of student voters registered.

One of the reasons might be that these elections will have a significant impact on Brexit negotiations and their outcome. By June, there will be a new government in power and with it arguably a new perspective of the UK’s position towards Brexit. Expectations are that if May wins, it will be a vote of reassurance and confidence regarding her policies over an EU exit for the UK.

Could this be an avenue for the country’s youth, realising their power in politics? If so, where will they channel it? Follow our rolling coverage to find out.

A general election is when British citizens choose who will represent them in Parliament and effectively run the country. How it works is, the candidate with the most votes in a constituency is elected as MP of that local area and would represent it in the House of Commons.

Everybody at the age of 18 or other is eligible to vote. You need to be a British citizen and be registered to vote. The deadline is 22 May 2017.

Living on the eastern side of Brexit: Bulgarians fight back

“Brexit means Brexit,” Theresa May famously said regarding the UK’s path to a European exit. That is all good. But what does Brexit mean for those, who will have to live all around it? Is there any hope for hospitality or expectation of hostility for nations such as Bulgarians, which come to the UK in search of a better life?

What does Brexit mean for us- the poor Eastern European students in jeopardy?

The increasing dissatisfaction among Britons regarding the number of immigrants from the eastern parts of the continent has been causing distinct unease about the sight of a Bulgarian passport. It seems to signify things. And not particularly good ones. It immediately sets us apart. But before you rush into judgements, systematically prescribed by most, if not all, British mainstream media, give us a chance to explain ourselves.

Yes, we want to come to your country. But for very different reasons.

Although it is said that the ‘leave’ campaign is yet to take its share of Britain’s cultural diversity and workforce in small and steady spoonfuls, the first effects are already on the radar.

The number of EU-born graduates has decreased by 50,000 in the last three months of 2016, according to the Resolution Foundation think tank. These numbers seem to reflect what Brexit has the potential to do.

Even more so, what it could have already done to the mindset of the British people. Along with falling numbers of students there is an increase in the uncomfortable issue of immigration and its impact. And yet few seem to care about what it feels like to be a resident and a guest at the same time. That is a deeply subjective one.

“Are you moving from a place where you were accepted to a place where you will be accepted?  Or are you moving from a place where you are not as accepted,” explains clinical psychologist, journalist and media expert, Dr. Vinita Mehta.

“If the dominant culture is not very welcoming of immigrants and the myriad of ways they can contribute to the larger society, then immigration and cultural change can give rise to feelings of alienation.”

The cultural diversity of the country, its ‘stock’ of fresh talent and a notable decline in the financial income coming from universities and research are just some of the ‘victims’ of the UK’s self-directed alienation.


With its ‘exit’ from the EU, the UK might end up spending way more than it settled to save.                      Image: Pixabay

But Bulgarians are not that new to the British cultural landscape, although as a distinct ethnic group in the country we are quite young. The first big waves of emigration occurred in the 1990s and 2000s, when the Bulgarian community really started to take shape.

When the restriction on freedom of movement and work of Bulgarian citizens placed by the British government expired in 2014, it really took off.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 69,000 Bulgarian-born immigrants resided in the UK in 2015. I wonder how many would be inclined to stay in after Brexit comes into power?

Already, there has already been a seven per cent decline in the number of EU students applying to UK universities after Brexit, according to a UCAS report. This trend is expected only to progress in the future.

Here is a silver lining. Bulgarian students still make their way to the UK in even portions. In the period between 2014 and 2016, the number of those making that journey has not changed significantly.


You see, we do not get scared away easily. There is surprisingly little that can come in the way of our ambition. For some reason, for quite a long time now, that ambition has led us primarily to British shores. As soon as we reach solid ground, we turn that ambition into motivation.

In Bulgaria, the UK has a certain reputation. Among the young and adventurous, it is regarded as a safe harbour, a ‘heaven,’ a utopian idyll of limitless opportunities and limited restrictions. This is where you go to build a life and earn a degree along the way.

It is neither an escape route nor an easy way out of the problems of the home country. Well, at least not in all respects.

“When we move away, we have a “frame of reference” of where we came from.  Very often in the US at least, people come here to seek out a better way of life, and the frame of reference we have is usually that we’ve “risen above” our former circumstances.  That of course may be changing in these times,” says Dr. Mehta.

That is a quest-like initiative in its own right. It is a risk and a challenge. It is a seductive idea, resounding at the back of your head. It is being given a chance.

We make such good use of that chance because of who we are.


It is London above all others, which attracts students who wish to continue their studies in the UK.                        Image: Asya Gadzheva

Bulgarian students, and fair to say all Bulgarians, share the same untamed, notable and almost self-destructive stubbornness. Giving up is just not an option. It is really that simple. It is built into our DNA. We are fighters. We are not afraid to get our hands dirty in the process, although we might not always go about it with due confidence.

All of that is a result of our complicated past: victories, upsurges, repression and slavery. It is bound to leave a mark. It has forged our national identity.

Can you see it now? It is precisely because of who we are and what we are made of that Brexit will not be able to scare us or drive us away.


So, what does Brexit mean to Bulgarians? Is it a restriction to be imposed and conducted? Is it merely a country’s choice regarding its state and position within a huge international union? Or, is it simply another challenge on the bucket list, with which to ‘feed’ our motivation?

“I think it will be a change. Obviously. The UK is a smart country. I know there are other super developed counties in Europe, which are not in the European Union. Why wouldn’t they do the same?”
Boryana, 20, London

“Brexit is a decision the UK took. From what I see in the news, it appears that the nation could not take more from this partnership, from the other counties in the EU, so they decided to take on a different path. That is the only way I can think about it.”
Stoyan, 20, London

“The UK has never actually been part of the EU. They didn’t introduce the common currency, they are like from a different dimension. They simply will not accept any other point of view. A foreigner will never be a part of their community.”
Bilyana, 20, Sofia

What will the future hold for us in a post-Brexit UK? What will it be left of that utopian idyll, driving more and more students to Sofia International Airport each year?

“Right now there is a feeling in certain Western countries that “outsiders” are taking jobs and resources, when the facts just don’t stack up that way,” Dr. Mehta remarks. “It can make a world of difference to make new social connections in your new home, including with others who are also experiencing cultural adjustment.”

Yes, precisely: adjustment. We must all adjust as necessary to accommodate ourselves within any new environment.

The process starts as soon as you take the first steps when you leave the plane. You have now arrived in the country, which seeks to restrict your access. You have entered the realm of hope. That is what we all bring along. Hope for something better.

We will make something out of it. We always do.  That is just the way we are.

Humanitarian crisis: famine hits Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria

The UN has declared that the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. More than 20 million people in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria are experiencing starvation and famine.

Stephen O’Brien, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, announced that 4.4 billion dollars are needed by July to prevent a ‘catastrophe.’ Affected areas are awaiting immediate global financial aid, while it is still uncertain how such a sum will be obtained.

Where is it happening?

The four most affected countries are Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. Severe and long droughts and ongoing military conflicts have destroyed crops, enabled the spread of diseases and caused famine. Yemen is said to be experiencing the largest humanitarian crisis yet, while some areas of Somalia have not seen rain in three years.


Source: USAIM,   Image: Google Earth   Production: Asya Gadzheva

Why is it happening?

The situation in these four countries is getting more serious by the day, with disastrous consequences for the wellbeing of the population. It is a state of emergency and crisis.

The World Food Programme defines emergencies as ‘urgent situations in which there is clear evidence that an event or series of events has occurred which causes human suffering or imminently threatens human lives or livelihoods and which the government concerned has not the means to remedy.’

Equally, the World Health Organization defines crisis as ‘a situation that is perceived as difficult. Its greatest value is that it implies the possibility of an insidious process that cannot be defined in time, and that even spatially can recognize different levels of intensity.’

The livelihood and wellbeing of millions is threatened by continuous droughts, ongoing military conflicts, occupations, famine and disease.

The UN defines famine as when 20 per cent of the population has an intake of less than 2100 kilocalories of food available per day, more than 30 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished and mortality rates of two or more deaths in every 10,000 people per day are reached.



Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

In Yemen, nearly 19 million people are at risk. The country is going through its worst crisis yet, as the severe famine is worsening and the war between Hoathi rebels and the government, supported by a Saudi-led coalition, drags on. Humanitarian help, even if provided, often cannot reach those in need. Disease is commonplace among Yemenis and medicine is scarce.

Humanitarian aid is prevented by ongoing fighting, underdevelopment and lack of proper infrastructure and fuel.

Being the newest nation in the world, South Sudan is just emerging from a three-year civil war. Continuous fighting and the consequences of the drought have put the population on the brink of existence.

7.5 million people are in need of immediate aid, as the cholera outbreak, which started in 2016, has spread to more locations. 40 per cent of South Sudan’s population lacks a sustainable food source, agriculture and regular nutrition.

Humanitarian aid is prevented by ongoing conflicts in the area and under-development. The probability of the population receiving any humanitarian aid is decreasing due to attacks on humanitarian convoys either by the government of rebel forces.

  • A Tweet by Manchester Labour councillor Kevin Peel emphasises the importance of an immediate and adequate international reaction.

Somalia suffered a famine in 2011, when close to 260,000 people died. Now, as much as half the population needs immediate humanitarian assistance. As well as profound malnourishment, people suffer severe dehydration and disease.

The El Nino weather phenomenon, which brings warm ocean water along the Pacific, is accounted for the drought and lack of water in Somalia. It influences fishing and agriculture and has resulted in a widespread destruction of crops.

Humanitarian aid is prevented by ongoing attacks by Islamist military group al-Shabab and under-development.

  • António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, shared his concern about the horror unfolding in Somalia on Twitter.

Northeast Nigeria has long been a warzone. Attacks by Islamic extremist group Boko Huram have resulted in an ever increasing death rate. 2.6 million people have been forced out of their homes and are experiencing severe malnutrition. The UN described the man-made crisis in Nigeria as ‘the greatest crisis on the continent.’

Humanitarian aid is prevented by continuing Boko Huram attacks, inability for the aid to reach occupied by the extremist group areas and cases of aid theft.

  • The disaster is essentially man-made, according to Tooting councillor Susan John-Richards.

Where did we go wrong?

The signs, sounding the alarm for a rising and worsening global humanitarian crisis, have been present for a long time but have suffered neglect. The international community has been slow to recognise and react towards prevention of such disasters.

There has been a sufficient gap in financing, where the money is either lacking or cannot be released soon enough. The 4.4 billion dollars demanded by Mr O’Brien might be too little too late and there is no guarantee whatsoever that they will be provided at all.

How can you help?

The BBC answered the overwhelming readership response to the coverage of the crisis with a breakdown of the different ways in which the individual member of the public can make a contribution.

Charity organisations such as The Red Cross, Unicef and Oxfam encourage people to donate money, send items that are needed or volunteer in many of the charity shops that have opened in London and across the country. They also plea for an increased awareness about the global humanitarian crisis that is unfolding and the seriousness of its consequences for millions of innocent people.

Trump’s plans to cut J-1 Visas set to end hundreds of student experiences

Trump is expected to abolish the J-1 Visa, the one widely used by international students to enter into summer internships. WNOL spoke to Yana Hadzhigeorgieva, who took part in an internship with Southwestern Advantage last summer.

Motivated and adventurous students have expressed their concerns about the future of summer internship programmes and the uncertainty around their right to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Southwestern Advantage, founded in 1855 in Nashville, Tennessee, is a company with a long tradition of securing millions of American families the most accessible, up-to-date and useful educational tools.

In 1986, they went one step further. In allowing foreign university students to enter into the already established summer sales and leadership programme, hundreds of students were tempted with promises of rapid, if ‘seasonal,’ success.

Independent conductors, as participants are trained to become, are taught sales, leadership, communication and organizational skills. Most importantly, they are given a chance.


Yana was keen on changing her life; then she found out about Southwestern Advantage. Source: Yana Hadzhigeorgieva

People like Yana Hadzhigeorgieva, 21, from Bulgaria, who participated in Southwestern Advantage last summer. She is currently doing a degree in the Netherlands and has agreed to share her life-changing experience.

What made you consider participating in the programme?

It was an internship, so I had the opportunity to go there to build my CV and see a different country. I am a person, who likes experiences, so I decided to gain some knowledge in the United States.

Did you expect to get chosen?

Definitely not. The requirements for the programme are very challenging. You need to cover a couple of steps in order to get accepted.


Yana ranked among top first years, for which she was awarded. Source: Yana Hadzhigeorgieva

How would you describe a perfect candidate for a first-year experience?

A very motivated person and a person, who is able to overcome every challenge that can come on the ‘bookfield.’ A person, who is not afraid to challenge him of herself.

Is this experience for everybody?

Honestly, I do not think this is for everyone. Usually, people especially in my country think that it is a crazy programme, although the European students get it very easily.

Was there any tension in working with an international team of people?

I do not think there was any, while I was working with Americans, people from the Czech Republic, Russia, the Netherlands. It was actually a competition between us, but we respected each other.

Do you think you need to be competitive in order to succeed?

I do not like competition that much, but somehow you get really motivated to beat the others. So, you become competitive, if you were not before.

Yana had a life-changing summer at Southwestern Advantage. It was the friendly and prepossessing environment above all other, that changed her character and motivated her throughout.

This is what a Southwestern Advantage experience sounds like in her own words.


What did it feel like to be a foreign student in America there and then?

As Americans say: ‘Awesome.’ It was a wonderful experience. I was really well accepted.

Would you say you felt welcomed? 

Even though Trump was elected and he does not really want international people in his country, I felt really welcomed to go there again, to meet a lot of nice people, to meet the best families and get inspired for life.


Independent conductors with Southwestern Advantage work with special permits. Source: Yana Hadzhigeorgieva

You are planning to go for your second summer this year. What might be different in a post-Trump America?

I do not think that Americans are going to change for nine months. But maybe it is going to get really difficult to get the J-1 Visa, the one we are using.

Will people be treating you differently?

If they had voted for Trump, that does not mean they are going to change their whole ideal system just because they have another person as a president. Let’s not forget, not everybody voted for Trump, right?

Who will lose if the programme is cancelled?

The people, who are going to lose most are the Americans and their GDP. The students, who go there to work from Europe, they work for their lower-paid working force just for the summer. They are pushing the American economy.

Is there something you regret about the experience?

I regret that I could not finish my programme. I had to leave three weeks earlier because I needed to start school.


Working for Southwestern Advantage teaches you how to handle life, as well as your customers. Source: Yana Hadzhigeorgieva

With what Trump has in store for international summer programmes, we might be seeing experiences coming to a premature end much more often. And, quite unfortunately, for entirely different reasons.

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee: the British monarchy makes history

The Queen celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee on Monday, marking 65 years on the British throne.

She became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015, when she surpassed her great great grandmother Queen Victoria. Aged 90, the Queen is now the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a 41-gun salute was fired in London’s Green Park to commemorate the occasion. Salutes also took place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.

Prime Minister Theresa May congratulated the Queen, hailing her as ‘truly an inspiration to all of us.’

Mrs May said: “I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth.”

The sapphire anniversary is officially known as Accession Day. The Queen will spend it in private at her Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, withdrawing from public view and abstaining from any public engagements.

British photographer David Bailey had received a commission to retake a portrait of the Queen, originally issued for her 88th birthday, for the anniversary.

Grand jubilee celebrations are expected to take place in 2022, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, recording her 70th year on the British throne.

It is perhaps a moment for reflection rather than celebration as the day of the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee also marked the anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6 1952.

“This will be a day for quiet reflection for Her Majesty, not celebration. One must remember, the moment she became Queen marks the moment her beloved father passed away,” a senior royal aide said.


Queen Elizabeth II was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York. Born in 1926, she is the 41st monarch since William the Conquer seized the Crown in 1066.

She was third in line to the throne and was not expected to be Queen. Her status as heir happened when her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 and her father, George VI, acceded the British throne.

In 2015, upon becoming the longest-reigning monarch in British history, the Queen said: “Initially, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”

Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 2016, the Queen is now also the longest-reigning monarch in the world.

In order to commemorate Her Majesty’s 65th anniversary, the Royal Mint issued specially designed Sapphire Jubilee coins and the Royal Mail- a Sapphire Jubilee five pound stamp.

The Queen has yet to celebrate more forthcoming special occasions. In November, she and Prince Philip will mark 70 years of marriage.