Amongst all of the controversy and debate about the relative value of online career support the casual observer might note that evidence about impacts is pretty thin on the ground. This is why it is particularly interesting to have a look at this recent Canadian study.
The study looked at the impact of a web based career intervention on the careers of post-secondary education graduates. It is published online at http://www.careermotion.ca/en/files/1313/2639/2243/en_cmreport.pdf
The project starts from the position that too many graduates are failing to fulfill their potential and that they are ending up in non-graduate jobs. I’m not sure that I go along with this assumption entirely but I get the point and I can see that there is value in providing new graduates with access to career support. The role of online support is particularly important for this group because (1) they are rarely prioritised by government for access to career support and (2) because they (usually) have high levels of IT/digital literacy.
The report cites a number of career and labour market information sources such as Alberta’s ALIS (www.alis.alberta.ca) and Manitoba’s Career Development web (www.manitobacareerdevelopment.ca) alongside the federal governments Working in Canada portal (www.workingincanada.gc.ca). However the CareerMotion intervention that is described in this report is of a different kind as it offers a structured learning environment rather than merely an information source.
The report is based on exploring the impact of Career Motion through a randomised control trial. The trial sought to measure both attitudes e.g. via the Career Decision Making Self-Efficacy and the labour market position of the individuals in the study. This quantitative study was then supported with qualitative focus groups.
The evidence suggests that the CareerMotion intervention was effective over both the short and long (1 year) terms in increasing individuals attitude, confidence and positive orientation towards the labour market. However the effects in terms of labour market outcomes were more marginal although those participants who had recieved the intervention reported that they were happier with their employment one year on. The study also suggests that those who use the online tool more see greater results.
The study also concludes that the effects of CareerMotion are in line with other kinds of career interventions. The study also found a broad degree of user satisfaction with the online approach although people would have like more information about job search and employment opportunities and more direct support from a career counsellor.
This report is a major contribution to our understanding of the impact of online career support. It is well worth a read if you have an interest in the area.