Launch of the Career Development Institute

Yesterday I attended the AGM and launch of the new Career Development Institute. This new body brings together the four main professional bodies in the career development field and enables us to go forward united.

I think that now is a great time for a new start for the careers field and I hope that people will get behind the CDI and help to turn it into more than the sum of the parts. If you haven’t become a member yet you can do so on the new CDI site.

I’d be interested in hearing what people are looking for from the new organisation. I think that I’m looking for a body that conceives career development work more broadly than any of the previous bodies, for something that provides us with a strong community of practice, which endorses the importance of research and an evidence based professional and which campaigns strongly for universal, lifelong publicly funded career support (and a host of other things that I believe in).

However, I’m happy to give the new executive team a few moments to find their feet and to just say “good luck” for now.


New perspectives on career coaching

The latest issue of the Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
is now out and focuses on new perspectives on career coaching.


  • The changing shape of the career profession in the UK – Charles Jackson
  • Career coaching in private practice: a personal view – Denise Taylor
  • Lost in translation: career coaching deaf students – Lynne Barnes and Elizabeth F. Bradley
  • Careers guidance and career coaching – what’s the big idea? – Bill Law
  • Developing sustainable career coaching in the workplace – Rob Nathan and Wendy Hirsh
  • The education and training of career coaches: a psychological model – Janet Sheath
  • A positive approach to career coaching – Julia Yates
  • Creating career coaching – Gill Frigerio and Phil McCash

Download the flyer for this issue

An interesting (but strangely anti-careers) article from Charlie Ball in the Guardian

I’ve known Charlie Ball for years. He actually spoke at what was probably the first event I went to that got me really excited about careers – so he shares at least some of the blame for getting me into this line of work. He is pretty much my go-to graduate labour market data geek (this is a complement from me as I’m happy to call myself a career development policy geek). So I’m always interested in what he’s got to say about all things relating to careers and the labour market.

Charlie wrote an interesting article in today’s Guardian responding to some new research from the Education and Employers Taskforce. The report is an interesting one as it finds that young people’s career aspirations are out of kilter with the labour market opportunities that are out there. Charlie says OK, but <data geek>are they using their SOC codes correctly?</data geek> and <justified skepticism>labour market predictions are always wrong anyway so we’d be wise not to get too hung up about this sort of thing.</justified skepticism> He also makes the important point that there is huge social and political pressure for young people to be aspirational (stand up Michael Gove and your adoration of the Russel Group) and given this it is hardly surprising if career aspirations tend to be inflated and not fully correspond to the labour market.

Charlie then goes on to finish with a broad point that I agree with. There isn’t too much point in trying to match individuals to jobs. Both individuals and the labour market are too complex and ever changing for that. It is far better to develop a system that supports individuals to be more flexible and to effectively manage their careers across a dynamic labour market. As he puts it…

We have a good, flexible education system in this country, particularly in higher education. You can take a physics degree, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a physicist.

But Charlie then goes on to say…

And while effective careers advice is a good idea, do we really want 18 year-olds to be set on a firm career path already? I’m not sure that’s a good idea in a rapidly-changing jobs market, when they’ll still be working 50 years from now.

Which for me misses the point of what careers advice and other forms of career development set out to do. Career development doesn’t just try and match people up to labour market opportunities. Nor is it in the business of telling young people that they have to choose a job for life. If you listen to careers people they are endlessly harping on about the changing labour market and the need to be adaptable. Career development, at its most effective, is about developing the career management and employability skills that support engagement in lifelong learning and a dynamic labour market. The kind of flexible education system that Charlie is describing should really have career development at its heart if we want people to emerge from the education system ready to suffer the slings and arrows of a complex world.

So I’d agree with Charlie that there is no point is worrying too much about whether aspiration ties up exactly with opportunity. What we need is education and career development that enables young people to own their aspirations and adapt them to the opportunities that they discover once they move into work.

Call for Papers – British Journal of Guidance and Counselling: Online Practice Symposium

Edited by Stephen Goss and Tristram Hooley

Online delivery of careers education and guidance, counselling, psychotherapy and other mental health and social services has been a subject of increasing debate.

Some have raised legitimate concerns about a perceived loss of the human element and reductive conceptions of what guidance and mental health services do – sometimes with a heavy focus on “information provision” as an alternative to live interaction. At the other end of the spectrum, advocates of technologically mediated provision talk of how online environments empower clients, democratise practice, allow guidance and therapeutic relationships to transcend time and space and bring distinct advantages not available in face to face settings.

This symposium will provide an opportunity to examine these issues through the lenses of both empirical and theoretical enquiries into the nature of online practice.

The symposium will use the term “online practice” to explore the idea of how guidance, counselling and practitioners in other mental health and social care services utilise online environments to communicate with clients. It will explore how technology both constrains and enables the practitioner and allows the development of new forms of practice.

This symposium will look at the impact of the online environment on the practice of guidance, counselling, psychotherapy and related services. We are particularly interested in receiving proposals for academic articles that will examine:

  • models of e-counselling and e-guidance practice
  • the use of social media (sometimes referred to as Web 2.0)
  • the role of mobile technologies
  • how online gaming can support practice in counselling and guidance
  • competencies, training and supervision in online guidance and counselling
  • the interface between online practice in guidance and counselling and conventional/face-to-face delivery (and blended technologies)
  • the ethics of online practice
  • the challenges of the digital divide and inequalities in digital literacy
  • the research agenda in online guidance and counselling.

Proposals on papers on other topics relevant to any form of online practice are also invited. The items above should be seen as indicative, not an exhaustive list of topics.

Alongside the symposium the editors are organising a one-day meeting on e-guidance and e-counselling to be held in October 2013. Authors who are thinking of contributing to the symposium are encouraged to attend and contribute to the meeting.

Proposals for articles for the symposium and/or live event should be sent to Tristram Hooley (if related to guidance and careers) at or to Stephen Goss (if related to counselling, psychotherapy or other aspects of mental health provision) at Proposals should include the title, an abstract of no more than 500 words and list of authors, including contact details for the corresponding author and should be submitted by July 2013. Full papers will be requested for submission up to January 2014 but should be submitted earlier, when possible, in agreement with the symposium editors.

Youth Mentoring Across Professional Settings

I have recently supervised an excellent doctoral thesis by Shaun Morgan. His thesis was entitled Youth Mentoring Across Professional Settings: A Pedagogic Approach To Social Inclusion and is now available from UDORA the University of Derby’s research archive.
The thesis examine how youth mentoring is used to engage disaffected and marginalised young people. It explores the extent to which key workers, across a range professional settings, adopt and integrate mentoring practices into their primary role. The research suggests that key workers recognise an informal and caring dimension to their primary role and use the term mentoring to capture the diversity of this activity. However, the attempt to facilitate integration into mainstream values and norms suggests that key workers and youngsters are actually engaged in a form of social pedagogy; undertaking social action to promote the personal development and general wellbeing of the youngster. As a piece of qualitative action research – based primarily on semi-structured interviews with key workers and young people – this inquiry also explores the extent to which practitioner mentoring, or social pedagogy, is successful as a transformation strategy – that is, the extent to which young people alter their attitudes, behaviours and beliefs as a result of being supported in this manner. The findings suggest that the informality of the interactions, a shared activity, the strength of the relationships and the duration of contact, are important aspects of social pedagogy/youth mentoring. The research has clear implications for practitioners, since the development of a ‘pedagogic perspective’ introduces a body of social theory into work previously undertaken intuitively. This, in turn, requires practitioners across professional settings to; engage with ‘clients’ on an a personal level to build trust and rapport, develop pedagogic opportunities that facilitate access to mainstream activities and, finally, maintain meaningful relationships until social inclusion is secure.

Exploring the turning points in researchers’ lives


Vitae have just put out a new publication that I worked on with Bill Law. The publication is called Exploring the turning points in researchers’ lives and sets out an approach to careers work called three scene storyboarding.

Storyboarding aims to help researchers to set down their experiences, to think about their careers and to take action based on this reflection. Storyboarding is a creative technique which asks researchers to think about their lives in narrative terms and to set down their experience in the form of drawings. It is an innovative technique that asks them to think about their careers in an unfamiliar way. We found  that it can be a challenging technique for professionals to get started with. However, this report shows that the storyboarding approach can be useful and that it can expand any researcher’s career-management repertoire.

I’d be interested to hear any thoughts about storyboarding from anyone who has used it or is thinking about using it.