On my way to #icgconf12

I’m just heading off to the Institute of Career Guidance (ICG) conference in Stratford-Upon-Avon. This is going to be the last ever conference of the ICG as sometime early next year all of the main professional associations will be drawing together into a new body which will probably be called the Career Development Institute.


So the next couple of days represent the end of an era, but also hopefully the beginning of a new one.


As regular readers of this blog will know the careers world and the careers workforce have been going through a lot of change recently. By and large the current government hasn’t been our friend and we’ve consequently seen the winding down of Connexions, the false dawn of the National Careers Service and the confusion in schools and colleges that has resulted from the Education Act 2011. Nonetheless the professional associations (such as the ICG) have carried on battling for the importance of careers work and with the birth of the new association I don’t think that it is false optimism to say that things can only get better.


So what am I looking for from this conference? Well, I want to catch up with old friends and colleagues, meet some new people, hatch a plot or plan or two over a late night drink and ideally learn something. I’m looking forward to hearing from Tony Watts, Gideon Arulmani, Jenny Bimrose and Deirdre Hughes amongst others. I suspect that the highlight might be the careers sector panel on Friday afternoon as they’ve brought together a pretty interesting group of people and it should give us all a chance to air our views.


Apart from all of that usual conference stuff I’m hoping that this conference will also provide an opportunity to set out a vision for careers work that will carry into the new professional association. For me this has to be about positioning careers development as a lifelong learning process that is open to everyone and which benefits all. It should also (IMHO) recognised the multi-modal nature of careers work (one-to-one, curriculum based, online, face-to-face, in work, out of work, in learning etc.) and acknowledge professionalism that exists across the entire spectrum. One of the key messages of careers workers has always been that embracing change is critical to remaining employability. I hope that we are hearing our own message as we go forward from here.


Digital career literacy: today’s workshop

I’m giving a workshop on digital career literacy at the ICG/NAEGA conference on adult guidance today. I figured that I might try and actually make it a workshop – rather than just talking at people.

So my plan is to set out the 7 C’s of digital career literacy.

And to explain the model as follows.

  • Changing describes the ability to understand and adapt to changing online career contexts and to learn to use new technologies for the purpose of career building
  • Collecting describes the ability to source, manage and retrieve career information and resources
  • Critiquing describes the ability to understand the nature of online career information and resources, to analyse its provenance and to consider its usefulness for a career
  • Connecting describes the ability to build relationships and networks online that can support career development
  • Communicating describes the ability to interact effectively across a range of different platforms, to understand the genre and netiquette of different interactions and to use them in the context of career
  • Creating describes the ability to create online content that effectively represents the individual, their interests and their career history
  • Curating describes the ability of an individual to reflect on and develop their digital footprint and online networks as part of their career building.

Then I’m going to divide people into seven groups and get them to think about one of the 7 C’s each. The task of each group will be to come up with a set of ideas/advice that could help an adult client to develop in that area.

Hopefully we’ll generate some good ideas!

Careers work in the blogosphere

Every couple of years the Institute for Career Guidance (ICG) produces an excellent volume called Constructing the Future. This contains a series of research based articles examining career guidance issues in a way that is accessible to the practitioner.


The full publication is available to buy on the ICG website for a very reasonable £18.50 + P&P. This issue focuses on issues of equality and diversity.

Nestling in the middle of the publication is my chapter entitled “Careers work in the blogosphere: Can careers blogging widen access to career support”. The ICG have very kindly given me permission to upload the article here – so here it is.


John Hayes at #icgbrighton

John Hayes arrived at the ICG conference in bullish and optimistic mood today. Given the mass redundancies and decline in service levels that have taken place in the careers sector over the last year I was expecting his interaction with the Institute to turn into a blood bath. But he turned on the charm and wrong footed his critics.

Quoting Kipling, Eliot and Ruskin, John Hayes’ speech covered familiar ground. He emphasised his support for careers work (“the stuff of dreams” as he calls it), the need for a new service and the importance of being open minded about how the new service is delivered. As in previous speeches he promised us that he was a friend to the sector and that under his watch careers work would “move into the sunlight”. He expressed frustration that all of the people who criticised Connexions were now bemoaning its closure. Change is difficult he assured us, but we are moving in the right direction. He also promised that the government will produce a summary of careers policy in the new year.

Unfortunately this doesn’t really tie up with my understanding of what has happened within the sector. I’ve written about my concerns at length in the past (see Collapse or Transition) so I won’t rehearse them here. But, it became very clear that the Minister sees the events of the last year very differently from me and others in the sector. Whereas I see that the governments actions have led to the creation of a poorly funded school based career guidance system, the Minister believes that schools have been engaged through a new statutory duty in a new generation of partnership working. In his vision schools are contracted with high quality careers companies to provide excellent services. He stressed that these services should be external (“secured rather than provided”) to the school and confirmed that this was how we should read the requirement to be independent and impartial. A couple of people suggested that this was not how schools were interpreting the situation and the minister seemed to suggest that they would have to fall in line with the statutory duty. The imminent issuing of new guidance for schools and the willingness to consult on this seemed to provide a way to take this forward. This all felt encouraging, but I have a niggling feeling that it might not work out like that.

On the adult service (AKA The National Careers Service) the Minister made the following points:

  • The new service will be co-located with Jobcentre Plus and FE Colleges and he would anticipate over 200 outlets before the end of next year. (Anyone know how many Next Step have got currently?)
  • The new service would also have mobile unit servicing rural areas (he neglected to say how this would work, bringing to mind visions of careers battle buses and leather clad motorcycle careers agents).
  • He also returned to the idea of co-locating the new service in places of worship and other community outlets.

He also intriguingly announced the creation of a National Council for Careers. What this actually is I have no idea! He also endorsed the idea of publishing further research and impact evaluation in the future.

I finished the session very confused. John Hayes promises a lot and seems to genuinely care, but the way I see the careers world doesn’t seem to connect with his view of it. What did other people think?

Social Media: 5 Practical Uses for Careers Professionals

The Institute for Career Guidance has just confirmed that we are going to repeat the workshop that I ran earlier in the year entitled Social Media: 5 Practical Uses for Careers Professionals. It is going to be held at the University of East London this time so you might be able to combine attending with taking in a show or some such delight in our nations capital. If you are interested you can book on the ICGs website.

If you are interested to see what the session involves have a look at the slides from last time. I will probably tinker with them a bit and am happy to respond to requests about what to include in or out.

Hopefully see some of you there