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

Anna-Elisabeth Holm, Bernadette O'Rourke, Mike Danson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-416
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number3
Early online date15 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • language learning
  • new speakers
  • language brokering
  • language policies
  • workplaces
  • migrant workers
  • island communities
  • barriers to skilled jobs
  • pro-active inclusion policies
  • migration to peripheral regions
  • Faroese
  • 'small' language communities


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