Launching the Tony Watts Reader


Last night we held a launch event for the Tony Watts Reader at Woburn House in London.

It was a really nice event attended by NICEC fellows and a number of Tony’s old friends and collaborators.

Lyn Barham and myself spoke about the process of creating the Reader and Tony himself also gave a short speech about writing and how good it is to have your writing get a second lease of life.

I’m really pleased that we worked on this book. I think that it has brought together Tony’s work in a way that makes it accessible to another generation. I hope that everyone in the career development field will agree that this is essential reading for everyone interested in career development.

Buy your copy of Career Development Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader online on the Highflyers website.


Pre-order the Tony Watts Reader

Career Development in Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader

Career Development in Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader

Professor Tony Watts is a pre-eminent figure in the field of career guidance. He retired in late 2014 after a 50 year career in the field. This single volume is dedicated to anthologising his work in a way that is accessible to students, policy makers, researchers and practitioners and contains Watts’ most enduring and key writings about career guidance.

The Tony Watts Reader is now available to pre-order online. It is available in paperback, PDF or ebook format.

Career Development Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader

Career Development in Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader
Career Development in Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader

I’ve been working with my NICEC colleague Lyn Barham for about a year now to produce a Reader of Tony Watts work. The ideal was to bring together Tony’s most important writings into a single volume. Much of his work is out of print and much of the rest is tucked away in journals that can be difficult for people to access outside of universties. We wanted to draw the most enduring stuff together and give it another lease of life.

After a year we are almost there. I received the proof of the completed volume the other day and am just working through it. So we are now in a position to start telling the world about it.

Download the flyer for Career Development Policy and Practice: The Tony Watts Reader

There is information on the flyer about how to pre-order the book if you want to get a copy of it.

I’m sure that I’ll be writing more on the blog about this book, but I hope that some of you will beat the rush by pre-ording now.

Careers 2020 – Options for future careers work in English schools

We have just published a new paper called Careers 2020 – Options for future careers work in English schools with the Pearson Think Tank.

The paper reviews the evidence around careers work in schools and explores different models of provision. The paper argues that there are three distinctive approaches to the delivery of careers work in schools which it describes as:

  • activity-based approaches
  • service-based approaches
  • curriculum-led approaches

It is argued that current government policy lead schools towards activity-based or service-based approaches but that the evidence base supports the idea that curriculum-led approaches are most effective.

The Pearson Think Tank are building on this paper with a survey of schools. Schools are invited to complete the survey to help Pearson to increase understanding about the current state of careers work in English schools.

why i’m concerned about the direction of the national careers service

Back in the early days of the new government I went to Belfast to the Institute of Career Guidance conference. The highlight was hearing the new minister John Hayes outline his vision for a new National Careers Service that brought together the best of Connexions and Next Step.

We all know how that ended up. Tony Watts has forensically analysed the policies of the current government if you want the whole story, and he and I have also written about the end of Connexions.

Careers work with young people in England has gone through a massive crisis. We don’t know where that is going to end, but at the moment the new reality of school based careers work is still bedding in. I see little reason for optimism, but we don’t really have much choice but to see how it goes.

In the campaigns and the lobbying around youth careers services the actual National Careers Service has received surprisingly little attention. I think that we were all just pleased that it was there and that funding for adults’ career support had been maintained. Of course I’ve grumbled that it isn’t radical enough, that the website isn’t as exciting as I hoped and so on, but it is basically my job to point out the flaws. When we compared the National Careers Service to the mess that was emerging with youth careers services there seemed reason to be complacent.

However, I’m starting to think that I may have taken my eye off the ball on this one. I also fear that is hasn’t just been me. The National Careers Service has been moving through a number of quiet but possibly significant changes over the last few months and I think that it is important that we start to attend to them.

Firstly the service has been co-located with Jobcentre Plus in many places. Secondly it has become a major destination for unemployed Jobcentre clients to be compulsorily referred to (as in YOU MUST GET CAREERS ADVICE OR WE’LL STOP YOUR DOLE!!!!). Thirdly it has had a pretty low profile and minimal advertising budget amongst the general population.

Taken together all of these factors have meant that we’ve ended up with a service that is overwhelmingly used by unemployed people as part of their interaction with the Jobcentre. I think that forcing people into a careers interview is a pretty pointless strategy and likely to end up with the National Careers Service being seen as something that people want to avoid rather than embrace. However, perhaps most worrying the positioning of careers work as something that is only useful to the unemployed is a disaster.

There is a strong rationale for universal career support. Of course this should cover people transitioning to the labour market and those who are outside of the labour market, but it also needs to support those who are inside learning and inside the labour market. Helping everyone to make wise choices about where best to apply their skills and how best to realise their potential is an argument that works for both individuals and society/ the economy. This was the sort of vision that John Hayes promised and it seems to be one that is now slipping away.

My question is essentially is this change a question of short term strategy (“we’ve got to do something about unemployment, let’s use the NCS”) or is it one of policy (“working people don’t deserve any help”) or alternatively is it just a case of the headless policy chicken running around without much thought to the consequences.

I’m not sure.

I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts about this – especially those who are working in the NCS.