Concerns about funding for careers services

I’m a member of the UK Careers Sector Strategic Forum. As a group we’ve just issued the attached statement which sets out some of our concerns about current proposals to restructure careers services in England. I think that it is well put and I’ll try and post something here as soon as we hear something from the Government.


Career, technology and related stuff bibliography

I’ve just finished a paper on career exploration, career IAG and technology. I’ve been keeping my references on Citeulike as I’ve gone along which has been fantastic. It would be even more fantastic if more education, career and related people were using Citeulike. The power of social resource discovery is enormous to say nothing of the advantages of not having to type so many references in if other people are doing it for you.

Anyway, if you are interested in having a look at the bibliography for this project you can find it on Citeulike tagged as iagtech.

The future of IAG

I’ve just written a presentation to give on Thursday at the Cascaid conference.  It is entitled “The Future of IAG” and should be an ideal opportunity for me to hold forth on my latest opinions and obsessions. Essentially I’m using the session to have a look at the policy landscape, the economic climate and the opportunities presented by technology. I’m going to try and argue that the moment is actually pretty good for careers work as long as the sector is able to be flexible in its conception of what careers work actually means. I’m not sure how useful the slides are without the accompanying ramble but I put them up here for any comments that people feel like making.

I’ll let you know how it goes after Thursday.

Tristram Hooley – The Future of IAG by hbates7933

We???re all career researchers now

I’ve just finished reading Phil McCash’s article ‘We’re all career researchers now: breaking open career education and DOTS’. Essentially the article is a critique of the DOTS model of career education, making the case that this creates an artificial distinction between the individual and their environment. McCash argues that we should see career as a social act, situated in an environment rather than an individual act that is conducted in relation to an environment. I find this to be a useful distinction – our careers are influenced by others, and also influence others. By focusing on the individual all the time we tend to construct other people as the problem “you can’t move to get this job because of your family”. Whereas if we see career as an interaction within a social environment we get a much more textured view of career where individual actions have consequences and implications for others and where family, friends and community can be constructed as part of the career rather than an alternative to it.


McCash then goes on to propose a model where the career learner is transformed into a career researcher. By engaging with career theory people can be encouraged to explore various conceptions of career and by developing the skills to interrogate the world around them (becoming researchers) people have the tools to investigate the viability and implications of these conceptions. McCash then goes on to locate this within the higher education curriculum essentially making the point that if we understand career education in these terms it fits very comfortably into a higher education curriculum that emphasises critical thinking and self-directed inquiry.


This focus on critical thinking and inquiry obviously has implications for the training of careers workers. Encouraging other to develop this kind of relationship between theory and practice requires the development of a very different set of skills to those required to support people to identify and match themselves to labour market opportunities. It also has implications for careers workers relationship to other professionals. This is especially true in the HE context where an increased focus on educational and employment outcomes has been seen as being in opposition to a tradition of liberal education. If we can reconceive careers work around the idea of critical inquiry and then communicate this to others we have the opportunity to relocate it within the progressive centre of higher education ideology.


As ever translating theory into practice is the real challenge. However, there is much food for thought in this article.


Web 2.0 and HE careers

One of my New Years resolutions was that I’d spend more time investigating the role of Web 2.0 in IAG services. Thankfully once I’d said this the world of Web 2.0 has brought me a number of people to talk about such things with. Most interestingly I had a conversation with @helenpownall at the University of Manchester who talked me through the really interesting work that they’ve been doing.


Check out the UoM:CS website to get an overview of all the interesting things that they are up to. They are delivering their services using asynchronous chat rooms, synchronous e-guidance, synchronous web chats with employers, blogs (written by both careers staff and students), and some other interesting stuff like Twitter vacancy alerts.


Manchester are probably one of the leaders in this but at iCeGS we’ve been doing a bit of active googling and we’ve discovered that most HE careers services are running some pilots and experiments with Web 2.0. For example have a look at

·         The Careers Group Social Networking Training Courses

·         UWE’s very web 2.0 looking site or

·         Staffordshire’s interactive services


I’d be interested to hear more about what other people are doing.


I’d also be interested to hear about how far you think these kinds of project have moved into the mainstream of what careers services offer and how far they are essentially down to one or two enthusiasts in the service.


Finally I think that we need to start theorising how these things fit into our understanding of what careers work is about and how it should be delivered. There isn’t much room for the one to one interview in the multi-player, egalitarian, on-demand world of Web 2.0. So where does this leave careers workers?


I went for a very interesting meeting with CASCAiD yesterday. They sell a variety of products which help to match people to occupations and careers. These are non-psychometric tests that focus on the kinds of things that you like and dislike.

e.g. Would you like a career that involves working with young people?

As you work your way through the programme the sense of what you are interested in is built up and suggestions for possible careers are made. If you are not happy with the suggestions you can refine and rework until you come out with a career you are interested in pursuing. At that point you get a whole load of labour market information which informs your decision further.

CASCAiD argue that users get a lot out of using the system on their own, but they are keen to point out that there is real value in it as a tool for IAG professionals. So no need to worry that you are about to get trapped in a Bruce Springsteen song about how you “got replaced by a machine”.

I was interested in talking to CASCAiD because their system is collecting a huge amount of data about people’s career choices that it would be great to find a way to analyse (potential funders please apply here).

However it also made me think more about the role of technology in careers guidance. In some ways careers guidance has an interestingly conflicted relationship with technology. On the one hand we have approaches that draw from counselling, stressing the holistic nature of the guidance experience. This approach places the human relationship at the heart of guidance and emphasises the value that a guidance professional brings in their ability to probe and understand the client at a deeper level than their stated preference about career choice. To explore and challenge, perhaps problematicising their decision.

On the other hand guidance has been ideologically committed to a discourse around science and rationality. The use of a battery of psychometric tests speaks to this, pushing the idea that the correct appliance of science can solve both personal and social problems. One of the issues with this has been that various scientific tests have often been shown to be both unreliable and filled with ideological values of their own.

CASCAiD’s tool is a much less of a definitive matching tool and much more of an aid to decision making. It helps reveal consequences and possibilities and for this reason seems much more in tune with the normal practice of IAG professionals who have generally had to practice somewhere between the soft and hard poles of the profession.

I’d be really interesting to hear about people’s experience of using technology in guidance and how you feel that this has impacted on the kind of approach that you have taken.