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Ex-Charity Worker Convicted of Giving Unlawful Immigration Advice
January 17, 2020
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London City Associates Director, Alexandra Zernova to pay £5,500 after pleading guilty to providing unlawful immigration advice.

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Alexandra Zernova, sole Director of London City Associates and former employee of charity Solicitors International Human Rights Group, (SIHRG), appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday 13 January for sentencing following a successful prosecution brought by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

Ms Zernova of London, had pleaded guilty on 13 January 2020 to seven charges of providing unlawful immigration advice through her company London City Associates. At sentencing she was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

The offences occurred whilst Ms Zernova was working as an education and training officer at SIHRG. Following Ms Zernova’s departure from SIHRG, the charity became aware she had been providing illegal immigration advice and alerted the OISC.

Upon sentencing the Magistrate said:

“You knew that you were not to provide these services. That is for good reason…Those who seek immigration services are often the most vulnerable. You know about these things as you trained in this, you are trained about clients, about their vulnerabilities and about the duty on us as a profession to abide by the highest standards of ethics towards our clients. You did not do that.

“The offences are aggravated by it being over a number of years with several distinct clients. There is no guidance on sentencing for such an offence. I have noted the aggravating features as I see them, but also the fact that you have cooperated as far as I can tell, and your guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. I will deal with you by way of a fine. This is the first time I do so with one of these cases. I take these offences seriously, as it undermines the legal protections in this country.”

John Tuckett, OISC Commissioner said:

“Immigration services are regulated to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure people are getting the advice they need. This is why all immigration advisers must be registered by the OISC or be a qualified lawyer to ensure they meet standards in knowledge and ethics.

“We are pleased with today’s result, and that we have been able to bring forward another successful prosecution. However the length of time Ms Zernova was able to operate illegally reinforces the importance of people or organisations like the SIHRG coming forward and reporting knowledge of poor or illegal immigration advice to the OISC.”

Outcome Stars: A Tool for Measuring Wellbeing
January 6, 2020
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By Anna Good, Research Analyst at Triangle, the social enterprise behind the Outcomes Stars.

The Outcomes Stars are a family of evidence-based, sector-wide and person-centred tools for frontline services, available under licence and with training.  

Outcomes Stars are evidence-based tools designed to support positive change and greater wellbeing, with scales presented in a star shape and measured on a clearly defined ‘Journey of Change’.

The Outcomes Star is completed as part of conversations between individuals and support practitioners such as key workers. All workers complete a one-day training course as a minimum, focused on how to complete the Star collaboratively and how to use the Journey of Change to target action planning.

There are over 30 versions of the Star tailored to different sectors, settings and service user groups, such as The Family Star Plus for working towards more effective parenting, or the Well-being Star for people with long-term health conditions (figure below).

The Wellbeing Star focuses on eight areas that patients, doctors and other health professionals have identified as being central to maximising well-being and independence when living with a long-term health condition.

The outcome areas are supported by research evidence showing for example, the importance of addressing social isolation, poor mental health and material hardship among those with long-term health conditions (Emerson, Honey, Madden  & Llewellyn, 2009; Mossabir, Morris, Kennedy & Blikham, 2014).

Both the development process and the use of the Stars in practice are based on the empowerment, collaboration and integration principles of Participatory Action Research (Lewin, 1946).  They aim to empower service users to be active participants, working collaboratively to devise solutions alongside professionals.  The Outcomes Star has been said to encourage a “reversal of role, underlined by power and knowledge, usually represented in evaluations by the powerful funder, the mediating evaluator and a less powerful service user” (Ardvison & Kara, 2013, p.13).

In the Star development process, service users, managers and key workers take part in workshops and provide feedback on the tool as part of an iterative process. 

All versions of the Stars are then tested for at least 6 months in frontline settings, with feedback from all parties captured and the psychometric properties of the Star examined.  This makes sure that the constructs and language in the tool are relevant, robust and as helpful as possible for the people who use the tool.  A review of existing literature in the sector is also undertaken to support development (for more information, see MacKeith, 2011.)

SUPPORTING EFFECTIVE CONVERSATIONS WITH PRACTICAL AND POSITIVE TOOLS

In contrast to many outcome measures, completing the Outcomes Star is an integral part of keywork and is intended to support as well as measure distance travelled.

Emphasising the keywork benefits, a team leader using the Wellbeing Star in a community Pulmonary Rehabilitation team, notes that “used as part of initial conversation with someone referred to the service, the Star provides a consistent structure for that first interaction, and the information captured with the Journey of Change helps the team prioritise the right mix of interventions and personalise the programme so it can be as effective as possible”.

This team is led by an Occupational Therapist and uses the Wellbeing Star alongside clinical measurement tools in a 6-week programme helping people with lung or respiratory complaints manage and live well with their condition.

The integration of outcomes, measurement and keywork can minimise the resistance often encountered when measurement is seen simply as a ‘tick box exercise’ and means of surveillance. Organisations using the Outcomes Star report that the process of engaging with the Journey of Change and reflecting on the data can itself result in positive movement and naturally facilitates person-centred and outcomes-focused action planning (York Consulting, 2013). Formal research is planned to evaluate the impact of the Star as an intervention in itself.

Service users respond positively to the Outcomes Star, and value being involved in identifying their strengths and needs and of seeing their progress visualised on the Star.   The Journey of Change underpinning the scales is strengths based and identifies progress in terms of attitude, motivation, and engagement with services as well as changes in practical circumstances and behaviour. There is a growing consensus that these outcomes are important to achieving longer term change and maintenance of positive change and well-being (McNeil, Reeder & Rich, 2012).

CREATING A LEARNING CULTURE, WHERE INDIVIDUALS CAN PERFORM THEIR BEST
December 30, 2019
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ARTICLE BY Kirstin Furber

Why is it important we keep learning?  Whether we like it or not, we are learning every day:  it might be a new way of buying a product or using a phone that has updated technology. All this change and innovation means we need to embrace learning.  

The world we are living in is complex, competitive, fast and busy. In such an environment, it’s critical organisations focus on learning and constantly develop their capability. Many organisations have adapted their learning model from one of traditional classroom teaching to a blended learning approach including face to face presentations, coaching and learning whilst doing. These methods embed learning quickly and fit better in busy work days. There are also some skills we can’t go on a course to learn, especially in digital space, as the work has not been done before and therefore the learning is very much on the job, through trial and error.

With the ability to learn its critical for organisations to remain competitive, adapt and stay ahead of the competition, how do we create a learning environment that supports individuals being their best? With the five characters of a human culture as a foundation, I believe companies need to focus on the following five areas:

1.Purpose: Purpose provides organisations with a direction, a mission to get behind, and the opportunity to communicate how each employee’s role contributes to that purpose.  A clear purpose also provides ‘guard rails’ and focus.  When everyone is learning, creating new ideas, and developing as individuals and as a group, it’s easy to get off track. Having a clear purpose that everyone understands and buys into means that ideas can flourish ‘on strategy’ and be translated into action.

2.Authentic Leaders: We know leaders are important role models, in everything they do and I have blogged before about the importance of authentic leadership.  Leaders have an opportunity to create an environment of learning through ‘bringing the external in’ and by ensuring the organisation does not get too internalised. Reading and sharing, participating at conferences, bringing speakers in to contribute new ideas and perspective, and by creating an environment of curiosity where it is safe to ask questions, is the perfect environment for learning to take place.  Remembering that they should always be open to learning also enables leaders to learn from their teams. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to have your thinking challenged. It’s important to be open to doing things differently and to update your perspective as the world changes. Authentic and vulnerable leaders who admit they don’t know everything, keep learning. 

3.Telling your story: Learning is about sharing and translating lessons learned into every day operational best practice.  Organisations that provide ways for individuals to share their learning with others both informally, e.g. at team meetings, and formally (through films, podcasts, or via company intranets) allow this translation of learning into the organisation to happen in the most organic way possible. This helps learning embed in the organisation.

4.Diversity: We all learn differently, and its critical organisations taken this into account. Some of us like to read about a subject in-depth, form views and then debate, others like a planned learning approach with many different forms of content: video, discussions, face to face sessions. The reflectors among us can get annoyed with a discussion group full of extroverts’ whist the extroverts are feeling very much in their comfort zone. Companies should enable time for reflection and processing as part of learning as well.  Cultures, physical and mental health, and learnings styles all need to be considered alongside how best to use technology to customise learning so it lands well enabling people to engage with it for maximum impact.

5.Workplace: Finally, where do you learn best?  Traditional learning used to always be offsite, but with budget cuts and because of people’s productivity suffering if they’re out of the office for long periods of time, this has changed. Training has moved to ‘bite-sized’ learning with different views on timing, ideally no more than 90 minute learning sessions, for individuals to learn best, as outlined in this article.  Some of us like to learn at home, in the cafe, with others, in the office.  With learning being produced, delivered and customised through a variety of learning platforms, opportunities for where and when employees can learn are expanding. Some of us are better at learning in the morning, others in the evening, we should factor that into our learning approach. What is the best period of time to learn? To brainstorm? To make a decision?  To create an environment where employees can learn, all of these factors need to be considered when developing a curriculum.

A learning environment does a number of things: it builds capability to drive performance and helps attract the best because of an attractive development offering. It also helps retain the best because they grow and develop by utilising new found skills in a number of ways, especially when promotions or pay rises aren’t an option.

Creating an environment where it is easy to learn goes a long way to creating an environment where people can be their best selves at work because an environment where everyone can learn is one where everyone can flourish.

Kirstin Furber – Chief People Director of ClearScore

Is Flexibility the Key to the Modern-Day Workforce?
December 6, 2019
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The concept of flexible working arrangements has been a game-changer in recent years, allowing workers to meet personal responsibilities while still fulfilling the requirements of their role.

Is Flexible Working Key To Attracting New Talent?

A flexible working arrangement usually refers to where the work is completed from (i.e., from home or the office) and when it is done. While the list of benefits is exhaustive, there are also potential pitfalls to be wary of. We take a look at both sides.

Advantages
A shortcut to a better work-life balance 

Flexibility in hours can help workers at any age or with any type of lifestyle. Working to a schedule or from a location that benefits the worker can allow people to live regionally and still work in capital cities, and it can give parents the opportunity to spend more time with family. Those with mental health issues can greatly benefit from a more flexible schedule. Lessening the pressure of these everyday life stressors can lead to better focus while at work. 

Time saved on commuting 

The time saved on a commute gives people extra hours each week that would usually be spent travelling to and from the premises. Even the introduction of flexible hours can reduce commute time, as employees aren’t required to travel at peak times.

Morale and productivity

Improved morale is the biggest positive involved with flexible working. Giving workers more choice in how they organise their working week has links to higher enjoyment at work, as well as increasing productivity. By offering flexibility in contact hours, employees feel more in control of their schedule and can better meet their health, social and family needs. 

Financial benefits for the business 

Companies who encourage flexible working arrangements often increase their revenue through less personal leave taken by workers. Better morale generally translates into a lower staff turnover and thus reducing hiring costs.

Disadvantages
Complacency

This one really depends on the type of person and level of accountability required in the role. Working from home or in the office at times that others are not around does sound enticing; however, it’s all too easy to use work hours to attend to household chores or personal errands. It can be a great exercise in discipline for those easily distracted.

Remote collaboration can come with its challenges 

Despite technology allowing workplaces to communicate from anywhere, some meetings, pitches or critical interviews are best done in person. The extent of these challenges does come down to the type of person, how outgoing they are and how comfortable they are contributing to meetings over video or phone.  

Switching off takes more discipline

Sitting on the couch under a blanket or working with a cuppa on the porch can be just the thing to meet a big deadline. However, bringing work into the home environment can make it difficult to draw a line between working hours and relaxation time. The same goes for having flexible hours — some may find it difficult to switch off and not remain contactable at all times.  

Food for Thought
October 25, 2019
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Sharing two images which may give you food for thought.

Learning to “Drop Your Tools” in Uncertain Times: A Call for Career Educators By Michael J. Stebleton
October 23, 2019
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You must unlearn what you have learned” – Yoda,  The Empire Strikes Back

In times of urgency or transformation, career educators must examine the tools in their toolbox and “unlearn” previous frameworks, theories, and strategies that no longer serve clients. In 1949, in the Mann Gulch fire, 13 firefighters died at the bottom of a ravine in Montana. Due to a shift in winds, the foreman instructed the smokejumpers to unload their heavy packs, including their tools, so that they could run faster. Most of the fire fighters did not drop their tools, and they perished in the fire. Had they unloaded the equipment, they would have likely survived (Weick, 1993, 1996).

Karl Wallenda, daredevil high-wire artist, fell to his death while clinging to his balance pole. Releasing the pole would have allowed him to grab a support wire and survive (Kuh, 1998). So, how do these two stories relate to career development? In this column, I argue that career educators can learn from the Mann Gulch and Wallenda tragedies, and subsequently alter our own practices. Specifically, we can slowly relinquish old strategies and tools—and develop new approaches to serve our students and clients.

Shifting Context of Future Work

The constantly shifting world of work demands that we explore innovative strategies and tools to support our clients as they prepare for the uncertainty of seismic changes in the workplace. Educational consultant Heather McGowan argues that we should be preparing students to lose their jobs, and lose their jobs regularly (Morgan, 2017). In a report by New Work Mindset, students entering the workforce today can expect to have as many as 17 different jobs in at least five different industries. Job change and job loss will serve as the new normal (Harman, 2019). Rapidly increasing technological advances require us to turn our attention to “learning agility” and the ability to learn and re-learn constantly (Levine, 2018).

Career development educators play important roles in supporting clients for these dramatic changes, and this shift requires us to re-examine our own vocational tools, even when experienced practitioners may exhibit reluctance to change. Weick (1996) refers to this as overlearned behavior. As higher education scholar George Kuh (1998) explained: “Dropping one’s tools is an analogue for being adaptable and flexible, for unlearning what we know that is no longer relevant or useful, for giving up what we believe and do when beliefs and preferred activities conflict with what present circumstances require” (p. 17). In other words, just as our clients need to prepare for change, so do career development professionals.

Three Ways to Innovate your Approach

To prepare for adaptation in the world of work, I suggest three significant shifts paired with some recommended resources. This list is not exhaustive; it serves as a starting point to pick up new tools and expand on some old practices.

1. Expanding from local to international: Historically, we have relied on primarily Western, White perspectives in terms of career theory and assessment. International and non-Western perspectives merit further inclusion in scholarly literature and practice. A Comprehensive Guide to Career Assessment (7th ed.), a new resource published by NCDA, offers a revamped title and approach (Stolz & Barclay, 2019). The online resource includes diverse perspectives on assessments from around the world. Purchase this new product in the NCDA Career Resource Store. A second new resource, “Contemporary Theories of Career Development: International Perspectives” by editors Arthur and McMahon (2019), includes several newer contemporary theoretical perspectives, including culture-infused perspectives, psychology of working theory, chaos theory, and a cultural preparedness framework, among others.

2. Moving from specialists to generalists: In the past, key career messages encouraged students to pick a major or career focus, and doggedly stick to it; this message merits challenge. Given the trends of future work, evidence suggests that some employees will become more agile, and more successful, by becoming generalists rather than specialists. David Epstein (2019), in his new book Range, set “out to explore how to capture and cultivate the power of breadth, diverse experiences, and interdisciplinary exploration” (p. 289). I highly recommend this book, particularly because it challenges the message of hyper-specialization at an early age. That said, there will continue to be professions that require specialization (e.g., pharmacists need to know specifically about drug interactions).

3. Incorporating Quantitative and Qualitative Interventions: The narrative approach to career development continues to grow, yet traditional test and tell approaches remain popular. One way to expand beyond traditional approaches is to move from scores to stories (Savickas, 2012; Stebleton, 2010). I recommend OneLife Tools (Franklin & Feller, 2017) because it aims to integrate narrative models with practical applications. Within the curriculum, individuals experience a narrative-based gamified tool called Who You Are Matters!, a peer-to-peer storytelling activity that builds the key career readiness competencies articulated by NACE. Additionally, users can efficiently reflect on jobs, volunteering and educational experiences using a narrative assessment web application called Online Storyteller, which also allows integrating results from traditional assessments. The curriculum allows for group interaction, meaningful self-directed career management technology, and blended delivery. Moreover, the philosophy aligns with the HEROIC mindset approach (Hope, self-Efficacy, Resilience, Optimism, Intentional exploration, and Clarity and Curiosity) which Feller (2019) advocates for navigating a lifetime of career transitions.

In conclusion, the future of work will inevitably consist of ongoing tumultuous change that will influence our clients and us. Although career educators rarely face situations as tragic as forest fires or high-wire acts, the analogy should be clear: older theories, models, and tools may need to be dropped to make room for new and innovative strategies that will meet the shifting needs and concerns of our clients. Gradually letting go of tools that may be holding us back may involve uncomfortable shifts in identity and skills. Yet, the efforts made to embrace these newer approaches ideally will better serve our clients, and us as career educators.

References

Arthur, N., & McMahon, M. (Eds.). (2019). Contemporary theories of career development: International perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Epstein, D. (2019). Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world. New York, NY: Riverhead.

Feller, R. (2019, June). Work trend boot camp: Evaluate how trends will impact you and your clients. Presentation at NCDA Career Conference, Houston, TX.

Franklin, M., & Feller, R. (2017). Using the One Life tools framework: From clarification to intentional exploration with an East Asian female. In L. Busacca & M. Rehfuss (Eds.), Postmodern career counseling: A handbook of culture, context and cases (pp. 273-284). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Harman, J. (2019). The future is learning with Heather McGowan. Retrieved from: https://www.leadinglearning.com/episode-130-future-of-learning-and-work-heather-mcgowan/

Kuh, G. D. (1998). Lessons from the mountains. About Campus, 3(2), 16-21.

Levine, A. (2018). The “just in time” learner and the coming revolution in higher education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 50(3–4), 27–29. doi:10.1080/00091383.2018.1507376

Morgan, J. (2017, Dec. 4). The future of work podcast [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from: https://thefutureorganization.com/preparing-students-lose-jobs-future-learning- evolution-work/

Savickas, M. L. (2012). Life design: A paradigm for career intervention in the 21st century. Journal of Counseling & Development, 90(1), 13-19. oi: 10.1111/j.1556-6676.2012.00002.x

Stebleton, M. J. (2010). Narrative-based career counseling perspectives in times of change: An analysis of strengths and limitations. Journal of Employment Counseling, 47(2), 64-78. doi: 10.1002/j.2161-1920.2010.tb00091.x

Stolz, K., & Barclay, S. (Eds.). (2019). A comprehensive guide to career assessment (7th ed.). Broken Arrow, OK: National Career Development Association.

Weick, K. E. (1993). The collapse of sensemaking in organizations: The Mann Gulch disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(4), 628-652. doi: 10.2307/2393339

Weick, K. E. (1996). Drop your tools: An allegory for organizational studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(2), 301-313. doi: 10.2307/2393722


Michael Stebleton

Dr. Michael J. Stebleton is associate professor and coordinator of Higher Education in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  His research and teaching interests focus on college student development and career development with an emphasis on the undergraduate experience.  Recent projects focus on the impact of career planning courses and college student success.  His work has appeared in numerous venues including:  Journal of College Student Development, Journal of College and Character, Journal of Career Development, and the Career Development Quarterly. Stebleton is a recipient of the 2017 NCDA Merit Award. The author would like to thank colleague Lisa Kaler for her thoughtful feedback on this article.  He can be reached at steb0004@umn.edu

Food for Thought
October 16, 2019
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Sharing two igmages which may give you food for thought.

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