My thoughts on the higher education green paper

The Government has recently release a Green Paper entitled Fulfilling our potential: teaching excellence, social mobility and student choice. The University of Warwick has already pulled together a list of all of the commentary that has been published on the paper. However, as far as I can see no one has particularly focused on the careers aspects.

In essence the paper seeks to create a new set of market regulations which will help to justify an increase in marketisation of the higher education sector. The Minister makes the following argument.

Now that we are asking young people to meet more of the costs of their degrees once they are earning, we in turn must do more than ever to ensure they can make well-informed choices, and that the time and money they invest in higher education is well spent.

In essence the paper creates a new framework, that in theory at least, will help potential students to make higher education decisions and drive HEIs behaviour in ways that incentivise good teaching and a focus on employability. The stakeholders in this reform are imagined variously as students, graduate employers and society as a whole.

The key conceptual elements of the Green Paper’s proposals are:

  • increased choice
  • broadening the market of providers
  • simplifying (or at least changing) the management and regulation of the sector
  • improving teaching on the basis that what is measured will matter
  • providing students with more information
  • creating a better alignment between educational decision making, HE provision and the graduate labour market
  • improving social mobility

In order to achieve this a new reporting and monitoring framework (the Teaching Excellence Framework or TEF) is proposed. There is considerable detail in the Green Paper that will presumably change and evolve as this moves towards becoming official policy. However, it appears that what is imagined is strongly dependent on existing monitoring instruments. This does raise the issue of whether the TEF is really providing new information or simply increasing the importance of existing information to HEIs businesses.

In essence the new proposals would result in a more marketised HE system. As a result the government hopes that the system is more dynamic. However this dynamism brings risks which the paper suggests can be dealt with both by more regulation from the new Office of Students and by the development of a stronger information environment. It is unclear to me whether there is really going to be much additional information and, if there is, whether the availability of this information will actually impact on students decisions.

What is clear is that the paper gives little attention to how people actually encounter information or make educational and life choices. There is already a very sophisticated information environment for higher education decision making. What is lacking is access to the career education, advice and guidance that might help young people to actually engage with it and make sense of it.

Getting the skills to beat the robots #cdiconf15

beating the robots

I occasionally fall down an obsession hole. A little while ago it was the fear that robots were going to take over the world. I wrote about this in a post on Humans and the Rise of the Robots. We also talked about some of the implications of this for careers professionals in the Get Yourself Connected paper.

As time has moved on I’ve got a little less panicky about this issue. I still believe that robots will transform the world (they already have). But, I don’t believe that this will make human’s redundant or leave us with no work to do. However, I do think that individuals and societies  are going to have to be very purposeful in the way that they respond to the increasing automation. If we do nothing personally and politically I think that we are likely to see an increase in inequality and ultimately some major economic problems.

I’m going to try and talk about some of these issues in my keynote to the CDI conference today. This is what I thought I might say.

Getting the skills to beat the robots

Getting the skills to beat the robots

Who wins the rat race

who wins image

I’ve just published an article in Graduate Market Trends which talks about career development, the graduate labour market and social justice.

Hooley, T. (2015). Who wins the rat race? Social justice and the graduate labour market. Graduate Market Trends, Autumn, 8-9.

“Even if you win the rate race, you’re still a rat”.
Lilly Tomlin

We often hear that we are in a ‘war for talent’. The language of war certainly makes graduate recruitment sound more exciting, but it has some negative connotations. War has winners and losers and those who lose end up dead or damaged. Is this really the best metaphor?

Read on…

Dave Redekopp talks about how every decision is a career decision

I’ve just come across this great TED talk from Dave Redekopp.

In it he talks about the limiting approach that we encourage students to take to career decision making. He argues that every decision that we make is a career decision and that we should focus far more on the ongoing decision making that we do every day rather than big life changing decisions.

The big decisions are essentially lies that we tell ourselves. The questions “what do you want to do with your life” is unanswerable.

Tracking, monitoring and evaluating

tracking image

Today we’re running a day in Derby for Teach First Teachers who are taking part in the Teach First project on career and employability learning. This project builds on a publication that we did a while ago for Teach First called Teachers and Careers.

Today I’ll be introducing John Holman and David Andrews who will talk about a lot of the substantive issues around delivering career education and guidance within a school. The teachers who are in attendance are the careers leaders for their schools. I’m also running a session myself which will cover the inter-linked issues of tracking, monitoring and evaluating careers programmes.

This is what I thought that I might do.

Tracking, monitoring and evaluating

Jim Bright writes about “the uncertain story of career development”


Jim Bright has just posted a guest post on the University of Derby Institute of Education blog. The post is entitled “the uncertain story of career development“.

Certainty is something that we seem to strive for in life, so it is odd that we so often bewail that we are bored. Judging by their popularity, we love a good suspense thriller and hate to have it spoiled by someone telling us who did it. With the exception of illegal bookmakers and bent goalkeepers, sports lovers don’t want to know the result in advance. After all, what would be the point? So despite our pursuit of certainty, uncertainty plays an essential and even pleasurable role in life. It turns out that we seek pattern and surprise, change and constancy, order and chaos. Read on…

Jim will also be lecturing on this topic at the University of Derby on the 4th November. There is still time to book to attend the lecture.