I wanted to devote this blog post to talking about another important piece of research that has recently been published by The Careers & Enterprise Company and is authored by some of my colleagues at iCeGS, the University of Derby.
The report focuses on the evidence for one-to-one guidance or what the Gatsby Charitable Foundation calls ‘personal guidance’. The term ‘personal guidance’ is an interesting one and was chosen basically to avoid confusion with the use of ‘career guidance’ in a broader more generic sense in Gatsby’s original report. For international readers it basically means ‘career counselling’.
The report argues that there is good evidence that personal guidance is effective and that it can contribute to enhancing young people’s personal effectiveness, career readiness and educational outcomes. It also provides some useful insights into what features should guide the practice of personal guidance to ensure and enhance its effectiveness.
The report argues that personal guidance is more effective when it is integrated into a whole school careers guidance programme which is supported by senior leadership and involves all staff in the school or college. In line with Gatsby, it needs to be delivered by a qualified professional on a one-to-one basis. Students need to be prepared prior to sessions and followed up afterwards. Professional careers advisers need to concentrate on creating a strong relationship (working alliance) with their client and utilising a range of core skills which customise the interview to the young person’s needs. Personal guidance should be available on request and when needed, as well as at the key decision points highlighted by Gatsby.
This is an important summary of the research evidence in the field. But, it also provides an important signal about the direction of future policy. Many in the careers field have been worried that recent policy and the activities of The Careers & Enterprise Company have been too focused on employer engagement and have neglected the importance of personal guidance. This research, especially when published alongside the personal guidance fund, and when framed within the wider framework of the Gatsby Benchmarks hopefully signals that we are moving past this debate.
There is an important open question about how the provision of personal guidance should be funded an organised nationally, but hopefully the pilots undertaken through the personal guidance fund will allow this to be explored more fully. In the meantime this research provides some useful direction about how personal guidance should be best delivered.