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Title: Negotiating the occupational landscape : the career trajectories of ex-teachers and ex-engineers in Singapore
Author: Tan, Joyce
ISNI:       0000 0004 2741 7412
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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The central focus of this thesis is how professionals in Singapore negotiate occupational mobility in their career life-course. The research seeks to understand the factors that underpin and guide individual aspiration and motivations when making occupational moves within career trajectories. Occupational mobility is fast becoming the norm among the international skilled labour force, creating a need to understand how such flexibility can be used advantageously, at the national level, for workforce management. The approach taken in this study conceptualises the career landscape as a field, and analyses mobility at the political, social and individual levels. It examines the power that is enacted by government on its citizens and the reflexive meaning making of individuals participating in occupational mobility. The empirical work consists of interviews with ex-teachers and ex-engineers in Singapore. The thesis presents an analysis of their narratives and identifies generic skills acquired in pre-employment training and in employment as a key to understanding how professional individuals are negotiating occupational fields. Amongst the achievements of the research is the understanding of what happens when individuals move from one occupation to the next. The research attempts to humanise the 'human resource' and present, through individual narratives, the individual's perspective on the changing nature of work, the need to participate in boundaryless work contexts and their involvement in occupational mobility. The thesis further illustrates the complexities that surround mobile behaviours of workers within an Asian context, and presents ways of understanding the needs of such professional workers so that they can negotiate the contemporary advanced economy landscape more effectively. The resulting conceptual framework attempts to explain how mobile Asian professional workers negotiate occupational mobility within a context that is influenced by conservative Confucian ideologies that place nation before self, and community before family. The research further emphasises the role that state-initiated lifelong learning structures play in creating the mobile worker and explores how generic skills facilitate occupational movements. It discusses the importance of contextualised skill acquisition and practice for subsequent recontextualisation in a new occupation and also aligns current career discourses to the perceptions that these individuals have of their occupations. Finally, the role that lifelong learning is perceived to play when considering the need for career adaptability competences, the space for recontextualisation of skills and the ideologies that influence individual occupational mobility are presented. By looking at those who have participated in it themselves, this research explores how individuals engage in occupational mobility and explains how control can be maintained over people's personal aspirations in the grand occupational mobility scheme.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available