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Career Guidance in Island Communities

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Presentation by Rosie Alexander at the NVL seminar on Career Guidance, Faroe Islands, May 2017

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Career Guidance in Island Communities

  1. 1. Career Guidance in Island Communities: a Scottish Island Perspective Rosie Alexander University of the Highlands and Islands University of Derby
  2. 2. Structure of this presentation • Background to the research • Features of islands • Impact on career pathways • Impact on career guidance Photo presenter’s own
  3. 3. Background • Integrated university • 13 colleges and research centres • 8,300 HE students • 31,243 FE students
  4. 4. Research project • Aim: To identify how living in a remote island community prior to entering higher education impacts on students’ narratives of their career journeys. • Longitudinal qualitative approach – Initial survey – Interview with a sample (23) at the point of graduation (Spring 2015) – Survey with the same participants in January 2016 – Second interview with participants in Autumn 2016 • In addition: analysis of background statistics • Supervised by Professor Tristram Hooley and Dr Siobhan Neary, iCeGS
  5. 5. Shetland Orkney Photos presenter’s own
  6. 6. Islands: key features • Islands are small • Mobility is important • Islands are connected • Island economies have particular characteristics Photo courtesy of Ronnie Robertson via Flickr
  7. 7. 1. Islands are small “Everyone knows everyone” – Lack of qualified personnel – Occupational multiplicity – Chameleon expertise – Personalised hierarchies – Role of reputation – Management of intimacy – Conflict avoidance Sultana (2006) Restricted labour market Photo presenter’s own
  8. 8. 2. Island economies are particular • MIRAB, PROFIT, SITE (Bertram, 2006) • Aquapelago (Alexander, 2015) Photos courtesy of flickr: nz_willowherb, eutrophication&hypoxia, Herry Lawford
  9. 9. 3. Mobility and islands are inextricably linked • Goods, services and personnel all brought in. • Common migration patterns: youth out-migration, in- migration from older lifestyle migrants. King (2009), McCall (1994) Photo presenter’s own
  10. 10. 4. Islands are connected • Physical: transport links • Social: Island diaspora • Economic: trade The contested ‘periphery’ – islands may be centres. Sumburgh Flight routes: courtesy of
  11. 11. Implications for career developmen Photo courtesy of Julien Carnot via Flickr
  12. 12. Island career development • Models of career development: chameleon careers. Strategic approach. (Sultana, 2006) • Career skills: flexibility, practicality, enterprise, ‘social floating’. • Job-search ‘below the radar’(Alexander, 2013)
  13. 13. Career choice Career choice may be influenced by: • Awareness of different jobs. • Availability of work experience • Social and family environment Image courtesy of: eutrophication&hypoxia on Flickr
  14. 14. Moving away • “Learning to leave” (Corbett 2007) - mobility may be assumed but is not straightforward • Mobility capital – background, financial resource, social networks are all important • Certain places may be more attractive than others. (Alexander, 2016) Photo courtesy of Alan Jamieson on Flickr
  15. 15. Returning home? • Return migration especially for: – Child-rearing – Quality of life – Proximity to family • Islands as a stable base • Being away but ‘close enough’ • Retaining island links Photo presenter’s own
  16. 16. Implications for guidance Careers advisers need to: • Explore experiences of place • Explore mobility • Explore wider life choices • Make geographical considerations explicit Photo courtesy of
  17. 17. Thank you • Email: • Website: • Twitter: @rosie148
  18. 18. Reflective questions • What is your experience of career development (your own or other people’s) in island communities? • What is your experience of careers guidance and counselling in island communities? • How might you adapt your practice to accommodate the specific needs of island communities?
  19. 19. References • Alexander, R. (2013) ‘Here you have to be a bit more fluid and willing to do different things’: Graduate career development in rural communities’, Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling v31: 36-42 • Alexander, R. (2015) Career decision making in island communities: Applying the concept of the aquapelago to the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, 9(1), 38-52. • Alexander, R. (2016) Migration, education and employment: socio-cultural factors in shaping individual decisions and economic outcomes in Orkney and Shetland. Island Studies Journal, 11(1), 177-192 • Bertram, G. (2006) ‘Introduction: The MIRAB model in the twenty-first century’, Asia Pacific Viewpoint, v47 n1: 1-13 • Corbett, M. (2007) Learning to Leave: The Irony of Schooling in a Coastal Community. Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing. • King R (2009) ‘Geography, Islands and Migration in an Era of Global Mobility’ Island Studies Journal vol.4 no. 1 pp53-84 • McCall, G (1994) ‘Nissology: A Proposal for Consideration’ Journal of the Pacific Society Vol 17, 2-3 pp. 1-14 • Sultana R (2006) Challenges for Career Guidance in Small States. Malta: EMCER.