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!


We have just published a new paper about the careers profession.

Neary, S., Marriott, J. & Hooley, T. (2014). Understanding a ‘career in careers’: Learning from an analysis of current job and person specifications. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

It is based on an analysis of job specifications and explores what the labour market in careers is like at the moment. Key findings include:

  • It was possible to identify six levels of vacancies in the career development sector: entry level; practitioner; advanced practitioner; manager and senior manager; and research and technical support.
  • There were careers vacancies in every UK nation and in every English region. Nearly half of the vacancies were located in London and the South East.
  • Over three-quarters of the job opportunities for the career development workforce were located within careers companies and the education sector.
  • Just less than three quarters of the vacancies were full time positions.
  • A clear majority of vacancies (69%) were permanent positions.
  • Three-quarters of vacancies specified a careers qualification. Many job and person specifications either did not specify the level of the qualification or suggested diverse careers qualifications at different levels. A minority of vacancies did not require any qualifications and a small number did not require any specific careers qualifications.
  • Job and person specifications set out a wide range of duties for careers workers. The most common were providing one to one career information, advice and guidance and organising and delivering group sessions.
  • The behaviour, knowledge and skills most likely to be specified were interpersonal skills, the use of ICT and electronic systems (including CRM systems) and the ability to manage paperwork and work to targets.
  • Salaries varied from £13,400 to £65,000 although the overwhelming majority of those that specified a salary were between £15,001- £35,000. Salary varied according to the level of the job, the sector it was based in and the qualifications that were required.
  • The analysis revealed 103 different job titles. This is a significant increase on the 2009 mapping by LLUK which identified 43 job roles. Careers adviser/advisor was the job title most commonly cited.

Congratulations are due to Tony Hope for the completion of his thesis Communities that care: an insight into male career patterns in a small neighbourhood. I was involved in the supervision of the project and am really pleased with the way the final version has turned out.

The study looks at the lives and career development of a group of mid-thirties working-class males in a small neighbourhood. In particular, the study highlights the complex influence of social capital, the men’s personal development through the ‘opportunity structure’ and how chance along with place of residence impact on career advancement. The data is drawn from 10 in-depth interviews with men in their mid-thirties, who were born and raised in an inner city neighbourhood. Despite poverty, deprivation and social exclusion, these 10 men now have a career but choose not to leave the neighbourhood of their birth. They have each turned their life around by being confident, persistent, and determined to succeed, thereby empowering other individuals and their community, to build their own ladders out of poverty and towards a brighter future. However, this is a close knit network of friends and family that according to the headteacher in the local secondary school are ‘unwilling to move the boundaries of opportunity and rely too much on the ways of the past’. Each interviewee has a story to tell and these stories are interwoven and analysed through common themes explored in depth in the thesis. These stories map out a career trajectory that is based on rites of passage into adulthood and an adult sense of masculinity.

I very much hope that Tony will continue to work in this area and publish more work based on his research.

If you are interested in studying for a doctorate with iCeGS then please visit our website.


Thanks to Phil McCash for passing me this piece.

Channel 4 news: Can the young find jobs?

It talks about the situation for young workers and includes an interview with Rhiannon Colvin from Altgen an organisation that works with young people to help them set up co-ops.

Rhiannon argues that young people should stop fighting each other for poor quality work and start to set up co-ops.

I think that this is all very exciting and it links to a lot of the stuff that I’ve been thinking about in relation to guidance and critical pedagogy. Perhaps we need to stop looking for individual solutions and start looking for collective solutions as part of career guidance.

Tristram Hooley:

Here is an article in the Derby Telegraph about our #graduatedresscode project. I share Beth’s discomfort with the imagery – but there you go – that’s dealing with the media.

Originally posted on #GraduateDressCode:

As a way of increasing awareness of the project, we’ve had an article published by the Derby Telegraph. Aside from the image used, perhaps, it’s a good overall representation of our findings so far:

View original

Back in November I saw Kim Allen present the Celeb Youth project to the Career Development Institute conference. It was a brilliant presentation that talked about how young people are using celebrity to think about and talk about their aspirations.

Since then I’ve been following the project online and managed to bag an invite to the project’s final event over the last couple of days. The project has been fantastically innovative in the way that it has engaged with people and built outputs for a wide range of audiences. The team have blogged throughout the project and engaged with a wide range of disciplines and professions. It would have been possible to just do the research and produce a few papers for academic journals. Instead they’ve been talking to lots of people and thinking about what the implications of their research might be for teachers, careers advisers, youth workers and of course for celebs themselves.

The final event very much picked up the spirit of the project’s online presence. It began with performance artist Bryony Kimmings introducing us to her “credible likeable superstar role model” Catherine Bennett. Her performance raised lots of interesting issues about the way in which female pop stars tend to be constructed in a way which makes little sense and offers little positive value for one of their main audiences (tween girls). Why do all pop songs have to be about love and rejection? Why can’t we have songs about palaeontology, tuna pasta, what we want from the future and the animal kingdom?

These important questions set us all thinking for Katy Vigurs celeb quiz. I woz robbed!

The next day looked a bit more like a standard academic conference. However, before anyone even mentioned Bourdieu we were asked to share who our favourite celeb was with our neighbour. The papers got underway in a series of disciplinary based panel sessions. The format was one of the Celeb Youth team presented some findings, a couple of people responded from different perspectives (other disciplines, practice etc) and then we were all invited to gather in groups and discuss. We all talked to each other and got a good opportunity to chew over their ideas. Unlike most conferences I go to I wasn’t tempted to fall asleep or start checking my email. The whole thing was much more fertile than the usual conference format.

But, the medium was not the only message. There was also a lot of important stuff about how young people engage with the idea of celebrity. In essence the project is constructed in opposition to the usual knee jerk media/politician stuff about celebrities being to blame for everything. You know the sort of thing: the economy is broken because young people are lazy, young people are lazy because they watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Therefore Kim Kardashian caused the recession. I’m over egging it but not much. The Celeb Youth team (Laura I think?) showed a quote from Iain Duncan Smith about how X-Factor cause the riots. You can’t make this stuff up!

Conversely, the research suggests that young people look beyond simple analyses of celebrity. The Celeb Youth project shows young people engaging with celebrity as a resource within which they can think about and understand their own lives and aspirations. Rather than buying into a narrative which is simply “shag a footballer and get rich” they typically prize celebrities who they believe embody hard work. Of course not all young people see all celebrities in the same way, but this is rather the point. Celebrity is a battleground on which you can test out your ideas. It is a place where those with little life experience can observe those with a bit more and think about whether they are behaving well and making good decisions. This may not always lead people to the kinds of decisions and values that I hold, but it isn’t a simple process of cause and effect. There is a sophisticated, critical process of consumption going on here.

All of this raises a lot of issues for those of us who are particularly interested in developing interventions that help people to think about their future and increase their self-awareness. However, that discussion is probably for another day. For today I’ll just thank Celeb Youth for having me and wish them well as they carry on with their interesting work!