Career education and guidance – the changing landscape

Career guidance - future of HE

I’m speaking today at the Festival of Higher Education, University of Buckingham. I plan to talk about the rationale for career education, the evidence that supports it and to say a little about where we are in the current policy and practice environment.

This is what I thought that I’d cover.

Career education and guidance – the changing landscape


We are now enrolling for MA in Careers Education and Coaching


At iCeGS we have just launched a new MA in Careers Education and Coaching.

Our MA Careers Education and Coaching will allow you to combine professional training with a masters degree. The course will lead to professional qualification through the Qualification in Career Development (QCD), which is awarded by the Career Development Institute (CDI).

We have designed the programme to bring to life the latest thinking in the career development field and to provide participants with a strong practical grounding in careers work. It includes work placements as well as teaching from all of the staff at the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS).

We are currently recruiting for a January 2017 start.

Find out more

House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility

The House of Lords Committee on Social Mobility has just released its report.

For an easy summary of this you might want to have a quick watch of this film which was made to accompany the report.

Or you can read the full report.

The report covers some very interesting ground. Whereas many previous discussions about social mobility have focused on getting working class young people to elite universities, this pulls back and takes a broader view. For example expressing some concerns about the inequity in education funding between those who follow an HE route and those who do not.

The report focuses on those who do not follow an HE route, but who also don’t become NEET. It argues that these young people in the middle are poorly served by current policy. It is these young people who should be able to benefit from apprenticeships, but, as the report points out only 6% of 16-18 year olds currently follow this path.

We have found that the current policy structure means a large number of young people do not have good options, and are not supported to make a choice which works for them and is successful.

The report summarises its key findings as follows.

  • Students leave the educational system without the skills necessary for work and life.

  • Existing recruitment practices hinder upward mobility.
  • There is an inequality between academic and vocational routes to work.

Consequently there is a need to:

  • make alternative qualifications system coherent, accessible and business-friendly;

  • reduce unfairness between academic and vocational routes to work, particularly in funding;

  • ensure apprenticeships remain high-quality;
  • improving careers guidance and advice for young people;
  • make transitions work for those in the middle;
  • increase market transparency with destinations data for schools and colleges;

  • increase employment involvement with schools in the transition to work; and

  • develop a clearer policy framework and a more effective delivery mechanism.

The committee then goes on to make some more detailed recommendations. Of particular interest to the readers of this blog will be the following on career education and guidance.

A new gold standard in independent careers advice and guidance, supported by a robust evidence base and drawing on existing expertise, which moves responsibility away from schools and colleges (which would require legislative change) in order to ensure that students are given independent advice about the different routes and qualifications available, to include: (i) independent, face-to-face, careers advice, which provides good quality, informed advice on more than just academic routes, so that individuals are able to make decisions based on sound knowledge of what is available. (ii) a single access point for all information on vocational options, including the labour market returns on qualifications.

Improved careers education in schools, to empower young people to make good choices for themselves, to include: (i) information on labour market returns, which would include information about the financial prospects of different options, to inform and motivate young people. (ii) data on local labour markets to inform the teaching of Life Skills, skills for life, and careers education.

This is all very encouraging. Despite some recent thawing of the climate for careers there is still a long way to go in making the system work effectively.  I will be very interested to see how the government responds to this report!

p.s. Note the following paragraph!

During our inquiry, we visited the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby. We were struck by the quality of evidence from the staff there. In particular, the Centre corroborated our written and oral evidence on a number of issues. Specifically staff at the Centre told us that, ideally, there should be two levels to good careers guidance: something outside of schools that brokered links with employers and the local labour market, and something inside schools and colleges so that pupils were learning about work at the same time as studying.



Further education learners’ prior experience of career education and guidance: A case study of Chesterfield College

further education

Just in case you missed it the latest issue of the NICEC Journal came out a few weeks ago.

In it Amy Woolley and I published an article looking at career education and guidance in Chesterfield College. While we were writing it we realised how poorly researched careers work in colleges it. We hope that this article contributes to the literature in this area and helps to stimulate further research.

Wooley, A. and Hooley, T. (2015). Further education learners’ prior experience of career education and guidance: A case study of Chesterfield College. Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling, 35(1), 50-56.

Using game-based learning in career education


We currently have three interns working at iCeGS. Each of them has developed a research project with a member of our team which they are exploring during their internship.

Sophie Rowe has been working with Nicki Moore on the issue of games, gaming and game based learning in career education. They have produced a survey which they would like practitioners to fill in.

So whether you are a gamer or not, please spare a few minutes to fill in this survey.

Developing career and employability knowledge and skills, using games and games based learning

Every School Should Have Someone To Lead Its Career Education

I’ve written a piece for The Huffington Post which draws on our recent paper Teachers and Careers.

Every School Should Have Someone To Lead Its Career Education

Since 2011 career education and guidance has been under attack in England. Politicians like Michael Gove have argued that there was no need for any kind of professional support for young people’s careers. Instead, employers could do it all on a voluntary basis. This has been regrettable as it has meant that young people have lost access to any professional support for their education and career choices… Read more

UCU pre-election manifesto on the knowledge economy

I have just read the UCU pre-election manifesto on the knowledge economy.

I think that it is an excellent document which sets out 15 practical policies that the next government could adopt around education and skills. There is, as you would expect, lots of good stuff on higher education funding and the management of higher education. However, it also includes very positive policies on Apprenticeship, lifelong learning and youth unemployment.

Obviously I was very encouraged to see one of its 15 policies being on career guidance.

Over haul career education. High quality, impartial career guidance is essential if students are to fully understand the different study options available to them and make an informed choice about their future education and employment plans. This should be free to all and available not only during initial education, but also throughout further and higher study and beyond. Adequate resource should be invested to allow face-to-face and telephone support as well as the provision of online resources.

I think that this document is a very important one and one that those who are interested in education policy should mobilise around. Thanks to you the UCU for pulling it together.