S.Korean health authorities on high alert ahead of Halloween

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Seoul, Oct 28 | South Korean health authorities are on high alert ahead of the upcoming Halloween weekend, as Seoul’s downtown areas are expected to be crowded with larger-than-usual numbers of people celebrating the annual Western holiday amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus-battered retailers in Seoul’s popular entertainment districts, such as Itaewon and Hongdae, are looking forward to boom sales of Halloween-themed products, food, drinks and various other consumer goods, particularly because of the government’s recent decision to phase out long-enforced strict anti-virus restrictions from November, reports Yonhap News Agency.

But there is also growing concern about a possible spread of cluster Covid-19 infections tied to hot Halloween spots, prompting authorities to ask both citizens and merchants to wear masks and observe other quarantine and distancing rules.

With three days to go before Halloween, the streets of Itaewon, an international district known for foreigner-friendly restaurants, shops and bars, were still quiet but a festive atmosphere can be felt everywhere.

Some shops on the main street, where bars and restaurants are clustered, decorated the interiors with pumpkin-shaped ornaments, a symbol of Halloween, or with spider webs and ghost props hung from the ceiling to create a Halloween atmosphere.

“It seems quiet now, but there are more people than usual. It will be more crowded on Friday or the weekend,” said a restaurant owner.

Large clubs appeared to refrain from actively publicizing their Halloween parties, apparently aware of the current quarantine circumstances.

“At this time of the year, flyers advertising Halloween parties and celebrations at clubs used to be posted on the streets for several weeks. But there are none this year,” said a club employee who has worked in Itaewon for about seven years.

Clubs and other shops in Hongdae, a western Seoul district also known for popular entertainment places, are also busy preparing to welcome customers in anticipation of a Halloween boom.

Many “hunting pocha”, or casual diners that cater to customers looking for blind dates, and bars have “Happy Halloween” slogans at the entrance or decorated the interior with props such as ghosts and witches.

A bar employee wearing a suit from the recently popular Netflix drama ‘Squid Game’ was seen soliciting customers. Street vendors were also selling pumpkin models, headbands decorated with ghosts and ‘Squid Game’ masks, among others.

“I didn’t expect the Halloween atmosphere to be hot like this. I’ve been wanting to go to a pocha after a long time, but I’m still reluctant to gather with a lot of people,” said a man surnamed Jung, who came to Hongdae with a friend.

At the same time, a batch of municipal officials was seen walking down the Hongdae streets, holding signs urging people to wear a mask.

Many shops on the streets around Gangnam Station in southern Seoul were also decorated with Halloween items, though the number of customers has not increased significantly.

Earlier this week, the Seoul city government said it will conduct special inspections on entertainment establishments in Itaewon, Hongdae and Gangnam Station areas until Tuesday to ensure that they strictly abide by quarantine and social distancing rules.

Source: IANS

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Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Most students pursuing an MBA come with the sole objective of having a decent job offer or a promotion in the existing job soon after completion of the MBA. And most of them take loans to pursue this career dream. According to a recent survey by education portal Campusutra.com  74% MBA 2022-24 aspirants said they would opt for education loans.

There are exceptional cases like those seeking master’s degree or may have a family business to take care of or an entrepreneurial venture in mind. But the exception cases are barely 1%. For the rest 99%, a management degree is a ticket to a dream job through campus placements or leap towards career enhancements. Stakes are high as many of them quit their jobs which essentially means loss of 2 years of income, apprehension and uncertainty of the job market. On top of that, the pressure to pay back the education loans. Hence the returns have to be high. There is more than just the management degree. Colleges need to ensure that they offer quality management education which enables them to be prepared for not just the demands of recruiters and for a decent job but also to sustain and achieve, all along their career path.

  • So, what exactly are the B Schools doing to prepare their students for the job market and make them industry ready ?
  •  Are B schools ready to deliver and prepare the future business leaders to cope up with the disrupted market ?  

These are the two key questions every MBA aspirant needs to ask, check and validate before filling the MBA application forms of management institutes. And worth mentioning that these application forms do not come cheap. An MBA aspirant who may have shortlisted 5 B Schools to apply for, may end up spending Rs 10,000.00 to Rs 15,000.00 just buying MBA / PGDM application forms.

While internship and placements data of some management institutes clearly indicates that recruiters today have specific demands. The skill sets looked for are job centric and industry oriented. MBA schools which have adopted new models of delivery and technology, redesigned their courses, built an effective evaluation process and prepared the students to cope with the dynamic business scenario, have done great with campus placements despite the economic slow down.

However, the skill set being looked for by a consulting company like Deloitte or KPMG may be quite different from FMCG or a manufacturing sector. Institutes need to acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

  • Management institutes should ensure that students are intellectually engaged, self motivated and adapt to changes fast. In one word ‘VUCA ready’.
  • B Schools should encourage students to participate in national and international competitive events, simulations of business scenarios.
  • Institutes should have the right mix of faculty members with industry exposure and pure academics.

The placement records of 2021 across top management institutes indicated the fact that recruitment is happening, skilled talent is in demand and certain management institutions continued to attract recruiters even in the middle of an ongoing crisis.

It is time, all management institutes rise to the occasion, understand market realities and identify areas of improvement at both ends – students and faculty.

After all, the stakes are high at both ends. B Schools taking corrective measures will stay while those which are lagging will end up shutting down.

Author Name : Nirmalya Pal

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