Adviser on the Edge

careers in island communities: research, theory and practice

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The Escalator Effect?

Ooh I just found information on a project running at the Centre for Longitudinal Study, Information and User Support looking at the ‘Escalator Effect’ in urban labour markets…. How exciting!


Image courtesy of Stig Nygaard from Copenhagen, Denmark licensed under Creative Commons

I first came across the ‘escalator effect’ when reading Bond, Charsley and Grundy’s paper: ‘Scottish Graduate Migration and Retention‘. Here they talked about how some Scottish graduates move south in the expectation that they will return one day, and that working in the ‘core’ economic region of London is actually seen as a way of ‘facililtating this return’, because they can build up skills and experience that allow them to move on to senior roles in more peripheral regions (2008: 51-52). In this way working in the South East (and London in particular) can be viewed as having an ‘escalator effect’ on the career trajectories of individuals, who may otherwise not be able to progress so quickly.

The idea of a project researching specifically the escalator effect is exciting to me, because I suspect that for rural and remote students the appeal of an urban area (and the escalator it offers) may be more marked – because the disparity between the jobs they could get ‘at home’ and those they could get ‘away’ may be greater than for students in less remote small and medium towns with larger labour markets and better transport links.

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Older siblings and graduate transitions

How prepared are graduates for entry to the working world? Do expectations meet reality? In my experience the answer almost universally to these questions is not very prepared and that expectations don’t meet reality. I was discussing this with a recent graduate this week over coffee, and we were talking about how to address these issues. What we concluded was that knowing people who graduate before you can be helpful in giving first hand insight into the realities of the working world. Specifically we thought that there could be particular value in having an older sibling who graduates and enters the working world a couple of years before you. I hadn’t really thought about this before, but I guess it’s probably true that the experience of observing the progress of older siblings can be very helpful in understanding your own situation when it comes to preparing for graduation….

This thought came back to me today as I was reading about graduate migration in a paper by Bond, Charsley & Grundy, 2008. In this paper the authors propose three factors for understanding migration: Opportunities (in terms of perceived opportunities for graduate level employment), Connections (to different places through friends and family etc) and Expectations (in terms of anticipated futures). This got me thinking… I haven’t seen it spelt out like this before, but connections are very important. Often when I’m working with students who are thinking about moving, they are anxious about setting up in a new place, and often this process is made a lot easier if there is someone they can stay with while they get on their feet. And this was when I suddenly wondered again – are older siblings particularly important in this respect too? In Bond et al’s report one of the quotes they use is from someone who decided to move to London because his brother was living there, and I thought about my younger brother who when he moved to London, initially lived with my other brother too… perhaps there is a particular avenue for research on the role of older siblings and graduate transitions?