A Study of Youth Migration: Talking with Professor Gordon Cooke

Gordon Cooke

Living in a rural community, on one hand, there is always that one person who can’t wait to move out and travel into the bigger world. On the other hand, there are people who love the place they are in and would refuse to ever move away. Both these type of people (Leaver, Stayers) have different reasons that justify their decision. Professor Gordon Cooke, and a fellow business faculty member, Bui Peterson, researched three purposes the rural youth (aged 18-30) migrate for. Those reasons where found to be employment, education and location.

Employment being one of the main reasons has a tremendous effect. Those who desire to stay for this reason could, for example, be categorised into “The Money Makers” who due to the good job they got, accepted to stay and work. Professor Cooke, also explains that ‘Leavers’, who came up with their decision because of employment and related matters, could also fall into one or more categories. One of the categories is “The Reluctants,” who are described as the ones who desire to stay locally but local employment is not enough. “The Mercenaries” are people who, regardless of the location, will pursue the best work opportunity.

Moving onto education, which is another major factor when making the decision to leave or stay. Among those who decide to leave are people who have emotional connections with their home community, but their ambitions are not met with the educational opportunities there. Those are categorised as “The Disappointed Learners”. On the contrary, there are “The Strategic” ones, they are characterised by their willingness to stay if decent local educational programs are found and who see value in being close to home as well as wanting to gain valuable skills.

Last but not least, location is the third key influencer on the leave-or-stay decision. ‘Stayers’ such as “The Tethered” are well connected to the community by their family or social situation. It doesn’t stop there, there are “The Lifestylers” who because of the way they live, are obliged to their homeland  or region. Conversely, “The Cosmopolitans” who simply want an urban lifestyle. Not only those but also there are people who just are not fond of rural living. Such people are categorised as “The Urbanites”.

To conclude, Professor Cooke’s research derives credible data on the different types of the employment-education-location obstacles that face rural youth of the island. Those obstacles are what influence a person’s decision to stay or leave. A person can fit into just one category or even finding themselves satisfying several categories’ description. 

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