Guest post: Equality and inclusive practice in career development

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In this guest post from Ifza Shakoor, she asks recently qualified career professionals with three or fewer years of experience working in the sector in England to participate in her research project about equity and diversity in the career development field. Ifza is undertaking a PhD at the International Centre for Guidance Studies, investigating how career development can diversify the talent pipeline and explore representation and relatability. Ifza calls for the representation of all ethnicities in her study.

Ifza Shakoor

The diversity of the career development sector is critical to its ability to address social injustice and inequality (see Frigerio et al.’s article Is careers work white?). The foundation of career development professionals’ work is based on achieving equality of outcome for all and assisting clients in overcoming adversity and structural and systematic disadvantages.

There is a lack of research on whether the diversity and the current makeup of the career development sector enable professionals to fulfil clients’ needs from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Although there is no exact data outlining the demographics of the sector, a large-scale research project by Neary on the career development workforce reported a sample of 94% white and 6% from a minority ethnic background. This breakdown is not representative of society and indicates a lack of representation.

Since the release of Neary’s paper, there has been a rise in awareness of racial and ethnic inequalities in career development. Frigerio, speaking at a NICEC conference in 2020, emphasised the injustice of not having a representative workforce. Furthermore, research by Ranavaya and Oputa highlights the perspectives of practitioners who have been marginalised due to structural and systemic restrictions.

Exploring equality and inclusion in the careers workforce

This study builds upon the works of those mentioned above. The project aims to identify and explore equality and inclusive practice in career development in diversifying the pipeline of the incoming workforce qualified at level 6 or higher through the level 6 qualification, the level 7 Masters route and the newer apprenticeship route in England.

This work is important to the sector to explore the reasons for the lack of diversity, what the challenges and enablers are, as well as identify and spotlight positive practices where there is an inclusive culture.

This study focuses on ethnic diversity, as there appears to be a diversity issue within the career development sector, with little representation of career development professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds. I am exploring this area of research through a social justice lens and hope to make policy recommendations for driving forward transformative change and diversifying the pipeline.

In the first phase of the project I will undertake a survey of recently qualified career development professionals working in England with three years or less experience working in the sector.

Following this first phase of research, I aim to launch focus groups for the second phase of data collection aimed at those career professionals from minority ethnic backgrounds who recently qualified in the last three years at level six or higher.

For the final phase of this research project, I will recruit participants with ten years or more experience from minority ethnic backgrounds qualified at level six or higher for a focus group session to explore the area of equity and diversity in the career development sector and collaborative explore the themes derived from the data collection. If you fit the requirements for this and wish to participate in this research project, please contact me at

The survey

The first phase of this study consists of an online questionnaire aimed at recently qualified career development professionals working in England with three years or less experience working in the sector.

Participants should have a level 6 qualification or higher. I aim for this questionnaire to be distributed widely to gain maximum representation from all ethnicities to aid this important study area. Please participate in this questionnaire and share it with your network, colleagues and those who have recently qualified and joined the sector.

Complete the survey


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