Marie Mc Gloin

Project Title: Cultural Appropriateness and Responsiveness of the Higher Education and Training Needs of Migrants in the Northwest of Ireland: an Exploration of the Experience of Migrants in the Northwest.

Student Name: Marie Mc Gloin BA MA

Supervisor: Dr John Pender

Abstract:

This research proposes to focus on an exploration of the higher education and training needs of migrant workers in the northwest region. In addition to the barriers that the indigenous population encounter to higher education and training, migrant workers encounter specific barriers such as language barriers and lack of the relevant information on education rights and entitlements (Linehan & Hogan, 2008). Confronting additional barriers to higher education and training create further difficulties for the future employment of migrant workers particularly in light of the current economic downturn. As a country, Ireland may be losing out on indispensable skills and knowledge that many migrants have previously gained, and which may be an invaluable contribution to Ireland’s future economy.   While other migrants who have low levels of skills may gain further essential employable skills by upgrading their education and training, if higher level education and training courses in Irish third level institutions are more easily accessible. This is crucial if migrants are to adapt to the future skills needs of changing labour market demands in Ireland.

Ireland has traditionally been a country of emigration, but due to the recent economic boom and a shortfall in Irish workers, the country is now a country of immigration. Migrant workers make up the largest group of new people to come and work in Ireland. Most of the current migrants are economic migrants. They have chosen Ireland primarily for the economic benefits and lifestyles it has to offer, at least when compared to their countries of origin. Ireland has gained major economic benefits as a result of the overall labour market input that migrant workers have contributed in the last number of years.

Although migrants have been an invaluable resource to the Irish economy, migrants are a diverse group of individuals whose needs are not well known. There are a number of barriers that confront migrant workers in education and employment (Cotter & Dunbar, 2008). There are issues around recognising their previous qualifications and prior learning at work experiences. In addition, migrants generally have an ad hoc knowledge of the Irish higher education system. Also, there is a difficulty around sourcing relevant and concise information on educational courses, and another area of major concern is the financial cost of education. Furthermore, many migrants have poor English language skills which negatively impact on their integration into the Irish education and employment systems. Employment patterns have changed and it is now a common practice that Irish workers upgrade their skills and knowledge by accessing higher education and training courses, even though they encounter barriers in doing so. These barriers are generally common to adults such as one’s other financial and social commitments and responsibilities. Migrant workers will encounter these barriers also, in addition to the specific barriers encountered in accessing higher education and training courses.

Up until recently, migrants have engaged in jobs in the Irish labour market that may not otherwise have been filled primarily because of a short fall of Irish workers. However, due to the current economic downturn, migrants are not only in danger of becoming unemployed, but research shows the percentage of migrants who are currently on the live register has rose by 143 per cent between October 2007 and March 2009 (Keena, 2009:20).  Therefore, there is a genuine urgency at this point in time for further education and training, to upgrade skills and knowledge, to enable migrants to gain proficient employable skills in order to meet any new shifts in Irish labour market demands. The central aim of this research is to establish the learning needs of migrant workers in the northwest region.

Publications/Conferences attended:

  • Confederation of Students Services in Ireland (CSSI), 15-17 June 2009.

‘Challenge or Opportunity for Higher Education Institutions’.

  •  Sociological Association of Ireland, 8-10 May 2009.

‘Albert Memmi’s Concept of Racism’.

  •  Universities Association of Lifelong Learning (UALL), 23-24 March 2009.

‘Challenge or Opportunity for Higher Education in Rural Ireland’.

  •  Birkbeck Institute of Lifelong Learning (BILL), 30 May 2008.

‘Pedagogic Challenges in Rural Ireland’.

  •  Irish Association of Social Care Workers (IASCE), 6-7 March 2008.

‘Time Constraints on the Learning Environment of Mature Students: Practical Suggestions’.

  •  Sociological Association of Ireland May 2008.

‘Time Constraints on the Learning Environment of Mature Students: Challenge or Opportunity’.  (Poster presentation)

Forthcoming:

  • Migrant Studies Conference, Dublin City University, 8th April 2010

‘Cultural Appropriateness and Responsiveness of the Higher Education     and Training Needs of Migrants in the Northwest of Ireland’.

Sociological Association of Ireland, Queens Belfast, May 2010.

‘Higher Education and Training Needs of Migrants in Ireland’.