Raining aspirations and smoothing transitions

I’ve just read with interest a new report from The Work Foundation entitled Raising aspirations and smoothing transitions: The role of Careers Education and Careers Guidance in tackling youth unemployment. The publication argues that young people’s transitions from learning to work are becoming increasingly complex. It then goes on to argue that careers education and guidance can support young people to make transitions more effectively. The report then explores the current policy environment arguing that recent moves which reduce the amount and quality of careers work in schools are likely to have a detrimental effect on the chances of young people.

The report effectively draws together a lot of recent research and policy commentary in this area (including demonstrating the authors’ excellent taste by including a couple of my reports). Where the report offers some new thinking is on considering what can be learnt from the past and how this might shape future provision. While it might take a level of blind optimism to see the current situation for careers work as an “opportunity” rather than a crisis in reality those of us who care about careers work have little alternative. We have to look forwards and try and work out how best to work with the current environment. It is therefore useful to briefly review what Balaham and Crowley argue can be learnt from the past.

Key lessons

  • It is important to value diverse outcomes for young people rather than trying to force them into a one-size fits all model.
  • Career education and career guidance are most effective when they work together. Removing career education can leave guidance as a disconnected one off intervention.
  • Face to face provision is essential especially for those from a disadvantaged background.
  • (Online) resources need to be well designed and highly usable.
  • For the provision of career information to be effective it is essential that young people have the skills to be able to find and interrogate that information.
  • Collaboration and partnership are key to achieving effective delivery of careers work and to achieving successful progression for young people.

The report then goes on to make a series of useful policy recommendations.

Overall this report provides a useful summary of the current situation and frames this in an optimistic and forward looking fashion. Let’s hope that the government are listening.


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