19 April 2022

Meeting the career development needs of single parents

A new article I have co-written with Elsa Olaru will be published this month in the Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling (Issue 48). 

Our work on this topic is continuing, and we are pleased to announce that we've recently been awarded funding by the UWS-Oxfam partnership to undertake research into the barriers to apprenticeship provision faced by single mothers.

Our paper on the career development needs of single parents can be read via this link below:

Olaru, E. and Bolger, E. (2022) Meeting the career development needs of single parents. Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling. 

24 March 2022

Practitioner-Led Research: finding a space to share your research

I have written a new resource for the CDI, on the dissemination of research produced by CIAG practitioner-researchers. 

This resource provides information and guidance on how to share and promote your research. It is available here.

If you are keen to take your first steps into research as a career development practitioner, I am now leading CPD short courses on this topic at UWS. For further information go to CGD Short Courses Information on the UWS website.

2 March 2022

Supporting the employability of adults aged 50+ in the post Covid-19 era

The OU Employability Conference 2022: expanding the narrative for a rapidly changing world - continuing the conversation takes place in a few weeks. 

The programme offers a global perspective on principles of employability. "Higher education institutes (HEIs) have a major role to play in helping nurture students, but their impact is hampered by a narrowed definition of employability that sees them focusing too much on employment. HEIs need to expand the narrative to cover the many reasons why people commit to university study." 

I will be presenting a workshop at the conference, taking the opportunity to expand the narrative around employability in HE to older adults, building on the work I am conducting with Professor Valerie Egdell and Dr Louise Ritchie. The abstract for my session is reproduced below.

Supporting the employability of adults aged 50+ in the post Covid-19 era 
Emma Bolger, University of the West of Scotland, UK
Co-authors: Valerie Egdell, Northumbria University, UK / Louise Ritchie, University of the West of Scotland, UK 

Older adults, aged 50+, are one of the groups bearing the brunt of the labour market crisis precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. They have lost their jobs, been furloughed and have experienced pay/hours reductions and increased job insecurity. Some even have altered their retirement plans (Crawford & Karjalainen, 2020). For those who lost their jobs, their future employment and health and wellbeing will be compromised not only in the short/medium-term, but also the long-term (Gallo et al., 2006; Gangl, 2006). Many older adults have returned to study, looking to gain new knowledge and skills to support their employability. Programmes of support and information for people in their 50s and 60s have been proposed, piloted (NIACE) (2013-15) and tested (Beach & Holden, 2020; Eurofound, 2016; Loretto et al., 2017; Watts et al., 2015). They cover key aspects of work including health, skill levels, work–life balance, personal finances, pension entitlement and knowledge management (Eurofound, 2016). These interventions are often costly and inconsistent in-person initiatives to support older adults with contemporary jobseeking and applications (Siegler 2020) and there is a need for age-specific, contemporary employability-focused activity. Focusing only on the predominantly younger HE student population could overlook the needs of age diverse student groups who should not be overlooked in the creation of support programmes. A narrow definition of employability focusing on employment might exclude those older adults who might wish to return to university study, and the new reasons for this in post-pandemic society. In our workshop, a holisitic career guidance approach will be taken which encompasses all life roles, offering practical proposals for employability support interventions for older adults. 


Beach, B., & Holden, D. (2020). Building the Case for Mid-Life Career Interventions. London: International Longeitvity Centre UK. 

Crawford, R., & Karjalainen, H. (2020). The Coronavirus Pandemic and Older Workers. IFS Briefing Note BN305. London: The Institute for Fiscal Studies. 

Eurofound (2016). Changing Places: Mid-Career Review and Internal Mobility. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. 

Gallo, W. T., Bradley, E. H., Dubin, J. A., Jones, R. N., Falba, T. A., Teng, H. M., & Kasl, S. V. (2006). The persistence of depressive symptoms in older workers who experience involuntary job loss: Results from the Health And Retirement Survey. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 61(4), S221-S228. 

Gangl, M. (2006). Scar effects of unemployment: An assessment of institutional complementarities. American Sociological Review, 71(6), 986-1013. 

Loretto, W., Airey, L., & Yarrow, E. (2017). Older People and Employment in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. 

Sigler, I. (2020). Activating Older Unemployed Individuals: A Case Study of Online Job Search Peer Groups Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2021. Available: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/70904. 

Watts, J., McNair, S., Robey, C., Casey, L., Berry, C. & Sterland, L. (2015). Mid Life Career Review Pilot Project Outcomes: Phases 1, 2, and 3 (2013-2015). Final report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Leicester: NIACE.

19 February 2022

Cover slide: Researcher Ethics in the CIAG sector for the Career Development Institute/AGCAS/University of Derby National Research Conference 2022


I will be presenting my work on Researcher Ethics in the CIAG sector this coming Thursday at the Career Development Institute/AGCAS/NICEC/University of Derby National Research Conference 2022

22 November 2021

Domestic abuse, career guidance and career decision-making (16 days of action event)

As part of the 16 Days of Action activities at the University of the West of Scotland, I will be presenting a free workshop for career development practitioners on domestic abuse, career guidance and career decision-making.
Time and date: 10am, Monday 6th December.

9 June 2021

#WeAreCareers S3 Episode 3 - Unconscious Bias in CEIAG Work

Today Uuganaa Ramsey and I appeared on the WeAreCareers show with Chris and Sabiha, to discuss the impact of unconscious bias on our work as careers professionals, how we can challenge common misconceptions about unconscious bias and what we can do as professionals to facilitate conversations in this space and increase representation within our sector.

If you missed us live, you can watch on-demand here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKjsRS9GhWk

2 April 2021

New article: Dementia in the workplace: the implications for career development practice.

Today marks the publication date of the article below. In the last week we've also learned that we've been awarded funding from the Alzheimer's Society for a major project into developing a career guidance intervention for people with dementia. 

Bolger, E., Egdell, V. and Ritchie, L. (2021) Dementia in the workplace: the implications for career development practice. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2021.1902471

25 February 2021

Family Background and Career Decision-Making

On Friday 26th February 2021, I will be presenting at the CDI/SDS/Napier/UWS CPD Conference Scotland 2021, on Family Background and Career Decision-Making, with my collaborator from Germany, Jens Boernemeyer. 

Ethical Practitioner-Led Research

A very well spent day today, (virtually) attending the national Career Development Researcher Conference, organised by the CDI, AGCAS and iCeGs. Excellent speakers, some of whom have inspired and supported my own research over the years. I presented as part of the UK panel, sharing my own insights on ethics in CIAG practitioner-led research. I'll be sharing an extended version of my presentation in a few weeks, when I have a bit more time on my hands!

24 January 2021

Unconscious Bias and Race in Career Guidance Practice

A new article written by Uuganaa Ramsay and I is available in this month's issue of the Career Development Institute publication, Career Matters. 

Uuganna is the founding trustee of the Mongol Identity, and recently appeared on BBC Radio Scotland talking about her work, which you can listen again to here.

In our article we discuss the limitations of unconscious bias training, how career development professionals can actively mitigate their own biases in their work and practical positive action approaches that can be taken to address racial stereotyping and oppression. Our article can be viewed online here