At the turn of the year I thought to myself, ‘Ah, I must write a New Year Blog Post”. (Or at least, words to that effect). And yet, here I find myself already midway through January 2015 only just getting round to said deed.
Time evaporates at an astonishing rate. It was my 28th birthday during the Christmas holidays, which I was cool with until I realised my 18th was a decade ago, and that I will be turning 30 next year. Who allowed that to happen? Of course, when I voiced my concerns to friends and family members it was invariably greeted with: “28? Try being (insert number larger than 28)”.
In my defence though, I have been keeping busy.
Prior to breaking up for the holidays I gave a presentation to the Employment Research Institute on the “Impact of Social Networking on Career Management Skills”. I was quite apprehensive about it, but thankfully it went reasonably well (I’m still alive to blog about the tale). In the week leading up to the talk, I made the decision that it should be focused around a specific population group – young people between the age of 16-19 who are considered to be ‘NEET’ (not in education, employment or training).
The NEET group are a major policy concern in Scotland (and indeed the UK), and have been the subject of much academic research over the last 15 years or so due to escalating youth unemployment levels, particularly following the global financial crisis. I tailored the presentation so that a link was drawn between those who are NEET, their association with poor levels of social capital, and the potential for social media to support and develop their network ties and ultimately assist in their job search. This sparked some interesting discussion about how the recent welfare reforms could interfere in this process, and other similar issues.
Overall, the presentation was a good ice-breaker for me. It gave me something tangible to work towards, and really made me think about my research from a holistic point of view. There’s a long way to go, and a lot to learn, but I feel like it has given me a better understanding of my overall task. It was also good to hear feedback, and to talk openly about what it is I’m doing. I would definitely recommend doing something similar to anybody starting a research project.
Since coming back to work, I have been focused on preparing abstracts for two separate papers which I hope to present at the i3 conference in June. The first is related to the current research and reflects my new focus on the NEET group. It is titled accordingly: Could social networking online help NEET young people gain employment?
The second paper is derived from my Masters Dissertation, entitled the “Impact of Grassroots Campaigns Against Public Library Closures in the UK”. Public libraries have been culled at an unprecedented rate in recent years, and unfortunately this trend looks set to continue under the guise of austerity. In response to this, local campaign groups have assembled all over the country to fight council closure plans. If my abstract is accepted I’ll be able to present survey findings from my project which sought to ascertain:
1) The profile of the campaigners
2) Their reasons for involvement
3) What activities their campaigns undertook
4) Their perceived levels of success.
This is a huge issue from a cultural, economic and social perspective. I intend to blog more about it in the future, but in the meantime please visit these pages if you have a bit of spare time, and find out what’s happening in your area:
So yes, Christmas already seems like a distant memory (and yet somehow, I am still slightly hungover). As a runner, I have thrown myself into a strict post-festivities training regime in an attempt to sharpen my mind, and roll back some of those (28!!)years. We’ll see.