Adviser on the Edge

Spatial perspectives on career guidance and development


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Changing times in Sanday

I loved this recording from BBC Radio Orkney! Not only is it great to hear the Sanday (Orkney) accent next to the Yell (Shetland) accent, but the interview with 75 year old Angy acts as a form of oral history, with Angy making some interesting comments about how island life has changed, and his own career journey within Sanday.

In 1943 when Angy left school (at 14) his ambitions were to go away, to get some kind of work and to see what was out there. However, his father had other ideas and bought more land meaning that Angy actually started work on the farm. Initially he was ‘not awful struck on it’ as a kind of career, but by the time he was in his 20s he was “underway wi’ it” and no longer minded to leave. This interested me because of his desire to go away and see new places, which is something that lots of young islanders also report today. What is also interesting is how after his initial decision to stay, life just kind of developed from that point and he became settled in his work even though it wasn’t what he’d really have chosen. I wonder how much that is true of people now too? That life sort of carries us along sometimes meaning that we become settled in jobs even if they weren’t really what we would have chosen in the first place?

Other comments from Angy that I found interesting were about the changes in island schooling – when he was at school there were a number of different schools on the island, and the island community itself was relatively divided between the ‘north’ and the ‘south’, who didn’t really mix very much together. Now all the children are based in the same school, and the island is less divided. Angy also talks a little bit about changing island demographics, including the fact that now there are more incomers on the island than ‘Sanday wans’ – but at how he thinks this is a good thing because without the incomers the island would have been ‘dead’. Indeed being open to change and development is apparent in his comments about the island economy too – when asked about priorities for the future Angy talks about the island needing more tourist facilities particularly in the North. However, he still sees farming as important in the future of the island because of the central place it has in the economy.


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Graduate Mobility and Employment

Charlie Ball's report on Graduate Migration patterns

Charlie Ball’s report on Graduate Migration patterns

I have just read Charlie Ball’s excellent report: Loyals, Stayers, Returners and Incomers: Graduate migration patterns. I’ve been interested in Charlie’s work for some time, ever since coming across his earlier report into graduate migration patterns in the West of England. What this current report shows, as with his previous work, is that employment outcomes and graduate migration patterns are interrelated. So, for example, ‘incomer’ graduates (those who have not lived or studied in the region previously) have the lowest likelihood of being in a non-professional job, and returners (those who returned to their region of domicile after moving away for university) are the most likely to be in non-professional work.

What is particularly striking to me in this report, though, is the proportions of students in the various categories. The proportions are as follows:

Regional Loyal: 45.9%

(those who were domiciled in, studied in and remained in the same area)

Regional Returners: 24.7%

(those who were domiciled in an area, moved away to study and then returned to the area)

Regional Stayers: 11.5%

(those who move elsewhere to study, and then stay in the region in which they studied for work).

Regional Incomers: 18%

(those who were domiciled in and studied in areas other than the one they lived in after university)

The thing that strikes me is that almost three quarters of graduates stayed in, or returned to their home location after university. This raises significant questions for me about how mobile graduates actually are. Although in the policy literature it is often assumed that graduates are (or should be) highly mobile and willing to move for work, in reality the picture looks somewhat different.

A final thing I noticed from the report is that Scotland is treated as one region, which is notable mainly for its very high levels of Loyals. However, I wonder if there is scope for a more detailed and granular analysis of Scotland by region. Given that there are significant regional differences in Scotland – with the central belt being the centre of population, employment and also of universities – I wonder if there would be significant differences between the mobility patterns of students in the central belt compared to other areas?