“Employers could use us, but they don’t”. Voices from blue-collar workplaces in a northern periphery

Holm, E., O'Rourke, B. and Danson, M. (2020) “Employers could use us, but they don’t”. Voices from blue-collar workplaces in a northern periphery. Language Policy, 19(3), pp. 389-416. (doi: 10.1007/s10993-019-09513-4)

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This article analyses labour market experiences of migrants of non-Nordic origin who have settled in the Faroe Islands, a small North Atlantic archipelago with a population of about 51,000 people. By examining the experiences of educated migrant workers who are employed in three different blue-collar workplaces: a cleaning company and two fish-processing plants, evidence is drawn from a cross-disciplinary study on language and migration in the Faroe Islands. This study explores the experiences of migrants in acquiring, using and becoming “new speakers” of Faroese and the challenges they face regarding labour market access and participation. In this article, framed within an ethnography of language policy, we highlight the institutional language policies which may be shaping migrants’ experiences, and how migrants enact their own language policy decisions and practices on the ground. We focus in particular on internal communication and language management in the three blue-collar worksites, comprising views and voices of both employers and employees, on the language policies and practices observed in these workplaces, and on workers’ views on language learning opportunities in blue-collar workplaces. Added to this, attention is drawn to implications of limited language learning opportunities in blue-collar jobs (which become the main barrier to accessing skilled jobs), to underutilisation of professional skills, and to long term implications of present macro- and micro-level language policies and practices affecting lived realities of workers of migrant origin.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:We wish to acknowledge the support of the Faroese Research Council https://www. gransking.fo/en/ for funding the project New Times, ‘New Speakers’ of Faroese and the Sociolinguistics of Labour market Integration: Challenges and Opportunities (grant number 0229) which led to the writing of this paper. This work is linked to a larger project on ‘new speakers’ funded under th auspices of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology as part of EU COST Action IS1306 entitled ‘New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges’ https://www.cost.eu/actions/IS130 6/#tabs|Name:overview
Keywords:Language learning, new speakers, language brokering, language policies, multilingual workplaces, migrant workers, island communities, barriers to skilled jobs, pro-active inclusion policies, migration to peripheral regions, Faroese, ‘small’ language communities.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Rourke, Professor Bernadette
Authors: Holm, E., O'Rourke, B., and Danson, M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Hispanic Studies
Journal Name:Language Policy
ISSN (Online):1573-1863
Published Online:15 May 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Language Policy 19(3): 389-416
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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