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Researchers attach environmental sensors to an elephant seal in the Antarctic. Bitter cold
and floating sea ice have long frustrated scientists seeking to study the ocean around
Antarctica in winter.

Recession Making Even Undesirable Jobs Attractive

February 17, 2009 09:05 AM
by Anne Szustek
The British Antarctic Survey is hiring in exchange for a good salary. The catch? The jobs are at the bottom of the planet.

Job Applicants Cast a Wider Net

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The British Antarctic Survey has announced that it’s hiring “six electricians, six plumbers, three chefs and as many as seven carpenters,” as Bloomberg wrote, to work at its research bases in Antarctica.

The perks are arguably appealing even in a robust economy: an annual salary of some $32,000, clothing, transportation to and from the post, food and accommodation. Given that there are few opportunities to spend money on the barren continent, “You’ll have a fat bank account when you come back,” spokesperson Audrey Stevens told Bloomberg in a telephone interview.

The response from job seekers was enough to take down the British Antarctic Survey’s Web site and jam its phone lines after the positions were mentioned on the BBC and GMTV, reported U.K. paper The Daily Telegraph.

“The chance to work in the Antarctic surrounded by stunning scenery, icebergs, penguins, whales and seals is a fantastic opportunity and not something employers in the U.K. can offer,” James Miller, the group’s personnel manager, noted in a statement. “We need the best trades people to keep everything running smoothly.”

Those interested in the British Antarctic Survey positions can apply online.
Unemployment figures in the United States are also growing increasingly dire. Figures supplied by CNN show that the American economy lost 2.6 million jobs in 2008, with another 598,000 positions shed last month.

Faced with a shrinking job market, more Americans are pursuing government jobs with their promise of flush benefits and a recession-proof paycheck. One U.S. federal agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, plans to take on another 11,000 employees this year.

The prospects offered by a position with the department are enough to have Tucson, Ariz. call center agent Thamayya Dobbs consider retraining as a border patrol agent.

"There's more job security, stability for my family," Dobbs told Reuters. Tara Dunlop, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, reiterated those thoughts, saying to Reuters, "As federal (government) positions, the conditions are also very good and the salaries very competitive, with very competitive benefits.”

Despite ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is also seeing a bump in recruitment. According to figures released on Tuesday, all active-duty and reserve U.S. military units either met or exceeded their recruiting targets for January.

“In a tighter job market, young men and women may be more receptive to learning about the many opportunities the military has to offer, from competitive salaries and compensation packages, extraordinary education benefits, to valuable job skills and leadership training,” Bill Car, a deputy undersecretary of defense for Military Personnel Policy, told The Florida Times-Union in an e-mail.

In addition to the sagging economy, the Obama administration’s pledge to reduce the number of troops serving in Iraq could also boost public interest in military careers.

Whatever the case may be, Iraq war veteran and Marines career planner Staff Sgt. Jimmy Spence attests to the pluses of military service. "You're not going to get these kinds of benefits out there in the civilian world, with the job security that you're guaranteed,” he told CNN.

Related Topic: “Dirty Jobs”

Although it doesn’t feature jobs as traditional as military service or government employment, the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs” profiles jobs some might not consider if it weren’t for a recession. Among the career options featured: mud mineral excavator, road kill collector and catfish noodler.

The clearest benefit of jobs such as these may be job security. "In business, you've got to find something that no one else wants to do," Ken Barlow, who works for a private company that cleans roadway tunnels and buildings, told The Virginian-Pilot. "This is what nobody wants to do."

Reference: Careers Web Guide

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