Humans need not apply by @cgpgrey

Posted: September 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Tristram Hooley:

Thanks to the SecondaryCEIAG blog for posting this piece about how robots are taking over the labour market (and the world).
There is lots to get your teeth into here. I don’t agree with it all, but it is certainly clear that new technologies are going to transform the labour market and careers dramatically.
Obviously to those of us raised on SF like Terminator this is a little worrying.
The key questions are essentially who will the robots replace and who benefits from this redistribution of work. If the rich own the robots while the rest of us get pushed out of work and into low paid or no work then we are storing up a major social problem. If however they offer us more leisure and better life/work balance we have a different set of issues that need to be worked through in the labour market and ultimately in career guidance.
Does this compute?

Originally posted on SecondaryCEIAG:

Simply found this video too fascinating not to post it. “Humans need not apply” is a 15 minute insight into a labour market that might seem futuristic but is all too close to our doorstep. A labour market overwhelmed by automation and the bots that perform these tasks. Bots who have become so rapid in their rate of learning and adaptation, so complex in their ability to out perform humans in such a diverse range of tasks at such cost-effective rates that it’s probable that huge swathes of the labour market will succumb to their usage. Equally frightening and intriguing, the near future depicted in this video demands huge answers from economic and business leaders and the education system preparing those competing human workers of tomorrow.

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I’m talking to careers advisers again on Wednesday. I’ve been asked to talk about what has happened and what should have happened.

So I’ve put this together to help me.

Career guidance: what has this government done?

Earlier this year I was involved in a project looking at the recruitment and selection of postgraduates. We’ve just published the report.

Mellors-Bourne, R., Metcalfe, J., Pearce, E & Hooley, T. (2014). Understanding the recruitment and selection of postgraduate researchers by English higher education institutions. Cambridge: CRAC.

Hopefully it should be of interest to those of you who are interested in higher education research and policy. It also links in some ways to our earlier report on taught postgraduates.

Unlike many in the current Government I went to a state school. I have also sent my own kids to state schools and am broadly happy with the experience that they are having. I believe that education is both an individual and a social good and that there are huge social, cultural and economic benefits to providing an education system for all. I also think that there a major problems in creating social divisions through a fee paying system.

As a researcher I spend a lot of time in schools. I am invariably impressed with the work that they are doing and with the committment and enthusiasm of the teachers and career professionals that I work with. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think that there is room for improvement of our state school system, but I can see no evidence that improvement would be a consequence of the introduction of greater marketisation or of open up the opportunity to make greater profits from schooling.

Because of this I have just signed a petition saying.

Dear Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary,

Please rule out for profit state schools. Privatising our schools is a terrible idea, our public services should not be run for profit.

The focus of schools should not be to make money, but to deliver the best outcomes for children.

I hope that some of you will also sign it.

I have written an occasional series of blogs about the way in which universities market themselves.

I continue to be amazed, intrigued and sometimes confused by this. For example have a look at the latest offering from DeMontfort University.


What does this mean?

We’re living in turbulent and testing times. The world is standing on a razor’s edge. We’re our own worst enemy if we walk the path that’s worn think. Dare to find an alternative that makes your heart beat that little bit harder. Then together we’ll make great strides for the good of all. This is not about surrendering to convention. This is learning to succeed.

It sounds vaguely political, but to what end? And how is attending DMU going to contribute to this? Is DMU being offered as an alternative to other universities or to alternatives to university.

What does it all mean!!!!!!!

I think that this, like a lot of the other university marketing that I see suffers from the fundamental problem that most universities are not that different from one another. Better or worse resourcing, more or less public school educated students and easier or harder to get into. However, obviously no university is going to lead with the following slogan.

We are basically like all of the other universities, but we are reasonably easy to get into given our ranking. Come here and you might get to meet a few public school kids, but they won’t dominate too much. Oh and we have a nice campus with loads of new buildings. p.s. we are near the big city/sea/mountains/other university that you’ve heard of.

So we get various kinds of claims main. Some true, some less true, some clear and others confusing. How are potential applicants to decide between all of these competing claims?

NICEC has produced a special issue of its journal to mark the work of Professor A.G. Watts (Tony) on the ‘eve’ of his retirement from the world of career education and counselling.

Celebrating the work of A.G. Watts

The breadth and depth of Tony’s contribution is unmatched in the UK, Europe and internationally. NICEC has drawn together a range of renowned international experts on career guidance (and me) to reflect on the legacy that Tony’s work offers.

If you don’t already subscribe to the NICEC journal, then now is the time to sign up.


I saw this article in the Metro today.


As usual there is no reporting of sampling approach which makes it difficult to make much sense of this. I’ve tried to find the original press release, but I can’t find it (can anyone help).

Nonetheless the issue of what the influence of parents is on young people’s career decision making is an important one. I’ve looked for research on this and found some interesting stuff. Some of these papers also explore what the role of guidance professionals and other educators is in working with parents to support career development. I feel that this is an interesting area where there is a need for more work.

Any thoughts, ideas or references?

We are recruiting a new Senior Research Fellow at iCeGS. We are really looking for someone who has spark and enthusiasm and an interest in undertaking research and consultancy on the relationship between learning and work.

This will be one of our key posts in taking iCeGS forward for the next few years.

To find out more view the job description. I’m happy to answer any informal inquiries about this post.

Presentation in Bodø, Norway, August 2014

Today I find myself in Bodø, Norway. The image is a view from my window.

I haven’t come to look at the fjords (is that a fjord? – my maritime geography is weak – but I hope to investigate later!) I’ve come to talk about lifelong guidance at a conference organised by the Partnership for Career Guidance in Nordland county to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the career centers in Nordland. Norland is seen as one of the leading areas for lifelong guidance in Norway, so apparently there will be around 200 people from across Norway in attendance.

Today I will mainly be talking about:

The evidence base in lifelong guidance.

The Evidence Base on Lifelong Guidance by Tristram Hooley

And career management skills

Career Management Skills Workshop by Tristram Hooley

I offer my slides for anyone that might find them useful.

We are about to start a few new people at iCeGS. They are all excellent researchers, but not all of them necessarily have a background in career guidance. So what should I tell them to read to get their heads into career guidance?

I’m going to brain dump a load of stuff into this post, but I’d appreciate it if anyone else could chip in with any good ideas of books/articles/papers that they have found particularly interesting or useful.

The problem with career guidance is that it is by its nature a boundary crossing activity. This means that it draws on a range of different academic fields, probably most clearly education, psychology and sociology (particularly the sociology of work and education). However, we could also add into this a whole host of other fields that would be relevant, notably economics, business and management, history, literature, politics and so on. This boundary crossing makes career guidance a very interesting place to work for those of us who don’t like to be tied down, but it can make a survey of the field difficult.

Because I’m fairly historically minded, I’ll start at the beginning. Frank Parson’s Choosing a Vocation kicked the whole thing off and is worth a read despite the matching paradigm he is associated with being much derided.  Donald Super and  John Holland are also important early figures who anyone moving into the field should have an awareness of. David Peck’s Careers Services provided me with a post war history of the field in the UK.

When I started engaging with the field I found Jenny Kidd’s Understanding Career Counselling to be good guide to the psychological end of the field. I also found that it was useful to read some sociology like Milltown Boys Revisited and Learning to Labour. I also found some of Bill Law’s work on career learning to be very useful in helping me to think through these issues from an educational perspective. David Winters’ Careers in Theory blog was also hugely useful and it is a real shame that he hasn’t written much on it recently.

Much of iCeGS work explores the intersection between policy and practice in career guidance. We draw very heavily on the work on Tony Watts (who remains as a Visiting Professor to iCeGS to this day). Tony is amazingly prolific, but his inaugural lecture at iCeGS offers a good starting point for understanding career guidance and public policy. Tony was also involved in the OECD review of career guidance and in the production of a policymakers handbook based on this review. Both of these documents remain important touchstones for the field with much subsequent research looking back to them. Tony was also one of the editors of Rethinking Careers Education and Guidance which is now rather out of date, but was one of the best summaries of the field that had been produced when it was first published. It still contains a number of absolutely key papers including Tony’s own chapter on the politics of guidance.

Other key scholars who are worth reading include: Jim Sampson, Jim Bright, Jenny Bimrose, Mark Savickas, Mary McMahon, Scott Solberg, Hazel Reid, Bill Law, Deirdre Hughes and probably about a hundred other people who I’ll be offending by not including in this list. Each of these people will give you a different take on the field, with some focusing on system design, other on theory, practice or politics.

At iCeGS we’ve produced a vast number of publications that might be useful in giving someone an idea about the field. Probably the most useful ones would be Beacon for Guidance (which gives a history of the Centre); How the internet changed career (which summarises research on career and technology); Careers 2020 (which talks about career education and guidance in schools); All things being equal (which talks about equality and careers); and of course loads of others which can all be viewed on the iCeGS website.

The key journals that are worth reading in the field include the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, the NICEC Journal, Career Development Quarterly, the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance and the Journal of Vocational Behavior each with its own take on the field.

Gosh, that is enough for now. What have I missed? What should I read? Please tell me!