Evaluating iCould

If you are involved in careers work you will undoubtedly have come across iCould by now. Just in case you haven’t the site is a fantastic treasure trove of careers resources. At the hearrt of it are around 1000 films of people telling their career stories. This isn’t a typical “day the life of” job. information site, rather it is people explaining the twists and turns of their careers often describing how they moved through a variety of positive and negative stages to get to where they are today. It throws lots of the old ideas about “career planning” on their head and gives career explorers something that comes much closer to what I see as career reality.

Anyway, I’ve been involved off and on with iCould for a while and am now involved in evaluating the site. So I’d be really interested in hearing from people about what they think of it (good, bad and ugly). If you visit the iCould site you’ll get offered the opportunity to fill in a survey. If you’ve used the site before and want to go straight to the survey you can do that as well.


The education bill moves through the Lords

After all of the lobbying that has been going on I think that I’d convinced myself that the House of Lords debate on Monday was a serious last chance to influence the government’s policy on careers work in schools. However, as it turned out the amendments that were put came to nothing and the Bill will go through without further amendment. What this means is that schools have picked up new responsibilities around careers with no help or funding. As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog I can’t see how this is anything but a backwards step and a move that will fail all young people, but those without serious financial and family resources most.

The one concession that was made by Lord Hill was that he would issue statutory guidance to schools. Exactly the form that this guidance will take and how seriously schools will take it is yet to be seen. What is clear is that it will be “light-touch” which essentially means short, lacking in detail and free of any strong committment. Lord Hill did say that it will emphasise the importance of securing face-to-face careers guidance “where it is the most suitable support, in particular for disadvantaged children and those who have special needs or are learners with learning difficulties and disabilities”. Which is ironic given that much of the criticism that was levelled at Connexions was that it focused too much on these kinds of disadvantaged young people and neglected the career education of more mainstream young people.

The other thing that the guidance is supposed to do is to sharpen up the various statements that have been made around what schools are supposed to buy and how they will know it is any good. This is welcome, but is rather more complex than this might suggest. Is it about schools buying a qualified practitioner, a quality assured service or actually delivering quality provision to their students. These are actually all different things and the approach that is taken to assuring quality is likely to determine what becomes a proxy for quality. For my money it would be some kind of judgement about the experience that the students are gaining rather than just slimming down the list of people that they are allowed to buy it from. My guess would be that the guidance leaves this vague to avoid having to really tackle this kind of difficult political issue.

The future of careers work in schools is looking dicey. Where do people think the room for manoeuvre is?

NICEC Journal: Call for Papers: Issue 28 for publication in May 2012

Papers are invited on the theme of innovation in theory and practice. This issue is inspired by the Audrey Collin’s forthcoming NICEC Seminar (24/11/11). The seminar will offer the opportunity to outline the assumptions made by systems theory and consider the benefits for practice and how it might be applied.

Other articles are sought related to the broad theme of innovation in theory and practice in career education and counselling.

The deadline for final submissions is 31/1/2012.

Informal enquiries about the suitability of articles are welcome. Copies of the style guidelines are also available. Please email the issue editor Phil McCash: p.t.mccash@warwick.ac.uk

Enquiries about attending the Seminar on 24/11/11 can be sent to Lyn Barham: lynbarham@gmail.com

High-quality Career Guidance for Enhancing Social Mobility

The Careers Sector Strategic Forum has just released a new think piece discussing the relationship between career guidance and social mobility. The government continues to stake some of its reputation on its support for social mobility. However, this think piece suggests that there is room for improvement!



The contribution employers make to career guidance

Getting people into jobs is important for the economy and society.  A key element of this is the provision of accurate, timely and appropriate career information, advice and guidance to jobseekers.  Employers themselves have an important contribution to make to this process.

What is career guidance?

Career guidance is defined as “services intended to assist people, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers” (OECD, 2004).   

Scope of the research

Individuals who are looking for work or moving between low paid work and unemployment comprise a large and complex population.  The focus of this research is on how employers, through career guidance, can support individuals to engage or re-engage with employment opportunities. The research includes the following groups:

  • Individuals who are moving between low-pay work and unemployment
  • Longer-term unemployed individuals who are progressing towards the labour market
  • Young people with problematic transitions to the labour market (those not in employment, education or training).
  • Individuals currently in Further Education who are seeking imminent transition to the labour market.
  • Those at risk of or recently made redundant.

The role of employers

Employers’ contribution to career advice can take a number of forms and can include methods that are both direct (with unemployed people) and indirect (working in partnership with intermediaries including, for example, career guidance and welfare-to-work organisations).  
There are a number of challenges and benefits associated with the engagement of employers in career guidance activities.  Challenges may include resource constraints, limited planning horizons and concerns over the potential employability of unemployed people.  The range of benefits include the development of effective recruitment and retention processes, opportunities to address skills gaps/shortages and wider considerations in relation to Corporate Social Responsibility.  Employers’ willingness or desire to engage may alter according to economic circumstances and depending upon the nature of their business (size, sector, growth trajectory, labour market needs etc.).

Aim of the research

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) is seeking to gain a greater understanding of the role that employers can and do play in the delivery of effective career guidance that culminates in sustainable jobs.  The project includes a survey to identify good practice, a literature review and the development of a number of case studies.  This timely and exciting research is due to report in January 2012.

Aim of this survey

This survey provides an opportunity for stakeholders to share experiences and insights and identify good practice in relation to the role of employers in supporting career guidance. 

Who should respond to the research?

We would like to hear from all stakeholders that have an interest in this area, in particular:

  • Employer representative
  • Individual employers
  • Career guidance organisations and practitioners including community and voluntary sector based career services
  • Welfare to Work providers, FE Colleges, Work Based Learning Providers
  • Government departments (Department for Work and Pensions; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

If you would like to contribute to this research, please follow the link below:

  • If you are responding to the research as a practitioner or intermediary with a policy or practical interest in the role of employers providing career guidance click here
  • If you are responding to the research as an employer providing career advice and guidance click here

The deadline for responses is Friday 11th November 2011. 

If you have any queries about the research please contact James Clark on (0044) 113 8121795 or j.clark@leedsmet.ac.uk