Grey Panther induction session
Grey Panther Project
The Grey Panther project is a programme offered by the Office of Part-Time Education (OPTED) at Leeds University. The project was established in June 2004 to help males aged 45+ who have been unemployed for over 6 months to undertake a vocationally relevant HE course of study in order to enhance their employment prospects. The project attracted ESF funding worth over £135k and initially a maximum of 50 beneficiaries were expected to be recruited over the 18 month project life.
My role and the dissertation
Last summer I worked as a development clerk on the project, basically making contact with Job Centres and training providers in the local community to research the target group's training and development needs and to promote the project. Since January I returned to my old job on a part-time basis, on the grounds that I needed to earn some money for my MA and could base my dissertation around the project – something to do with masculinities, ageing and unemployment.
This morning I met the eight participants who make up the third intake (cohort!) of 'Panthers'. We introduced ourselves and the project, and Trish and I took them to the student office for registration which meant I chatted to most of the blokes at some point.
This is a smaller group than the previous two intakes, because it is running as an intensive 4-day summer school as opposed to the usual 11-week programme. The group is quite diverse despite being small, at least in terms of qualifications and prior work experience.
I am hoping that some of the sessions next week (esp. the discussion about ageism in the workplace) will be useful for my dissertation. I will carry out some participant observation as part of a general ethnographic approach, as well as a focus group session, and hopefully some of the students will be willing for me to interview them individually in the near future. I will keep a daily research diary to note down any thoughts and ideas that come out of the teaching sessions next week.
I'm quite unsure about how to proceed with my own empirical research having never carried any out before (my arts background not helping here), but it appears to be almost the expected thing in the Sociology department. In actual fact, I've never even written a dissertation, so the very thought makes me feel quite anxious.
Things I need to do this weekend:
- review masculinities articles / books
- start to look at government legislation re: ageism in workplace, any available DWP data / reports, findings re: older men / unemployment coming out of the 2001 census
- formulate research objectives
- think about what I want to achieve next week