18 December 2016

New Job!

December has been a busy month! I have left my job at Skills Development Scotland as a gender equality adviser and have taken up a new post at the University of the West of Scotland, lecturing in careers guidance.

Many careers professionals across the UK and beyond will know that my move to UWS marks the end of an era! It’s quite something to step into the shoes of the two well-know, valued and extremely experienced outgoing members of staff, Graham Allan and Janet Moffett. An online message book has been set up for Graham and Janet, which can be found here: http://farewelljandg.123guestbook.com/

Information on the career guidance and devemopment programmes at UWS can be found here

3 September 2016

Using career guidance skills in HE teaching

Earlier this year, I became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, having completed an independent research project into my professional practice. 
My research project looked at the use of career guidance skills in university teaching. 

Enabling people to reach their career potential is the responsibility of everyone involved in education. Post-course employability is at the forefront of my own approach to teaching; working in careers prior to and whilst teaching and bolstered with the postgraduate qualification career guidance and development (and a PhD rooted in career development theory on its way).

The (abridged, it was quite long...) research project may be of interest to: 
careers researchers, careers professionals, creative/cultural industry academics, the wider HE community. I hope it may also be of help to others who have portfolio careers in the creative and/or careers sectors and are considering applying for HEA fellowship.

My project is available here as a Google doc. 

16 March 2016

I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy!

Delighted to have been been told today that I have been recognised as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy for my research project on creative writing and employability. 

1 March 2016

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016 (Republished from the Ayrshire College Blog)

Guest post – Emma Bolger on tackling gender imbalance in Modern Apprenticeships

Emma Bolger is National Training Programmes Equality Adviser at Skills Development Scotland where she focuses on equality in Modern Apprenticeships, particularly for young women.We asked Emma to tell us a bit about her job. Here’s what she had to say. 
My job is to challenge the belief that there are ‘jobs for boys’ or ‘jobs for girls.’ That’s why it is great to be supporting the Equality Challenge Fund project at Ayrshire College – a positive, dynamic and inspiring campaign aimed at increasing the interest of girls and women in science, technology and engineering apprenticeships, and targeting gender balance in these sectors.
Why focus on women?
I am often asked the question ‘Why does the focus always seem to be on women?’ There are three reasons.
First, in relation to gender, certain sectors recruit more men than women and vice versa. The lower take up of roles in some sectors, by either gender, is known as occupational segregation.
Secondly, women take up fewer places on Modern Apprenticeships in sectors in which the greatest investment is made in training (and attract a higher salary on completion) such as engineering, meaning young women receive less government funding when embarking on their career journey.
This is unfair.
Thirdly, the focus is also primarily on women because of another aspect of occupational segregation – the low number of women progressing to senior roles in all sectors. 
The good news is the picture is changing. 
Our aim is to tackle the gender imbalance in Modern Apprenticeships through work with partners such as colleges. Through positive action projects and awareness raising activity, Skills Development Scotland and partners like Ayrshire College will continue to address lower uptake on national training programmes like apprenticeships and play our part in improving labour market equality. 
We want to see a large increase in the number of females applying for and undertaking apprenticeships in traditionally male dominated areas. This is one of the targets in our Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships
We also hope to increase the number of men taking up careers traditionally considered for women, and welcome other campaigns that Ayrshire College is leading like Men into Care and Man in the Mirror. 
Equality Challenge Fund – Ayrshire College videos 
Ayrshire College’s Equality Challenge Fund project aims to change perceptions about engineering and ICT amongst young women by raising awareness of the rewarding career options available and what apprentices actually do in the workplace.
The hashtag #WhatIActuallyDo is used to convey a day in the life of a female STEM apprentice. Women and men are seen working in teams together in high quality videos that show careers in STEM to be what they really are – exciting, dynamic and full of opportunity for all. 
I was delighted to join Ayrshire College Chair Willie Mackie, Vice Principal Jackie Galbraith and Business Development Director Stuart Millar at Spirit Aerosystems to launch the video series, and to meet Anna Manson, one of the apprentices featured on the videos. 
The Ayrshire College Equality Challenge Fund project will be celebrated at a major national event later this year.

5 January 2016

Were no women available? Comments on a Scotland Policy Conference

In December I attended the Scotland Policy Conferences Keynote Seminar: 'Developing the Young Workforce' - next steps for skills development and apprenticeships in Scotland. The briefing document is now available for purchase and has been distributed to delegates, contacts in government, the Scottish Parliament and other stakeholders. I contributed a short article to the briefing document, which is published below. For reference, a full list of the conference contributors can be downloaded here.

There was much discussion at the Keynote Seminar of the need for diversity and consideration of equalities within apprenticeship provision. Reference was made by the Cabinet Secretary and Damien Yeates to the recently launched Skills Development Scotland Equality Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships. Equalities should be seen to lead the development of apprenticeship provision in Scotland.

My specialist area is gender bias in Modern Apprenticeships and for me, it was interesting (and as ever, demoralising) that aside from the Minister, a lone female voice (Geraldine Wooley of Equate) was to be heard amongst the presenters and chairs. Look at the delegate list for a more accurate representation of the gender split of those who work in this sector at a policy and practice level across Scotland. Indeed, it is a more accurate representation of the working age population of the country.

In talking about models of success and possibility, as drivers of change and catalysts to reduce inequality in vocational education and training, it is important for organisations to lead by example. While there were no poor speakers amongst those who presented at the Keynote Seminar, for the organisations who took part I have a simple question: were no women available? Are there women working at the same senior level as yourself who could have attended and delivered the same message? These are workplace issues that are replicated time and again. Consider even the words in the job titles of the male speakers: senior, head teacher, chief executive, head, leader, manager. Geraldine Wooley’s job title, despite her position of responsibility within her organisation is that of “advisor”. Visible senior level males and women with job titles that hold much less prestige; how often do we see this in our work? What message was reinforced, however subtly, to those who attended?
Gender bias often passes under the radar as an accepted norm. For those of us working in gender equality it is a visible issue that must be challenged. Likely there are senior women within your organisation who could have presented at this Keynote Seminar. Likely there were apprentices from underrepresented backgrounds who could have joined you on stage and told their story. Speakers and delegates must consider and question why these groups were not visible at this event and others like it.

Emma Bolger is a PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, studying gender and occupational segregation in Modern Apprenticeships, using career development theory to inform her research. Her project is co-funded by the ESRC and Skills Development Scotland. Emma is also a National Training Programmes Equality Adviser for Skills Development Scotland. 

3 January 2016

A215 Career Planning Survey

I'm looking for current or past students of Open University module A215 Creative writing to complete a quick survey for a research project I am doing.

I'm looking at the career planning of students on this module and will be using the data collected to initially provide context for a research project into my own teaching practice. I plan to adapt the findings for wider dissemination and publication later in the year.

You don't have to be one of my students to complete the survey, you just need to have studied or be studying A215.

The survey is here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DVS7XW5

Survey now closed. Target of 100 responses received in 24 hours, clearly a topic of interest!