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A Massive Shock to the Education and Careers Support System on its Way

By Dr Deirdre Hughes

The introduction of new restrictions set out by the Prime Minster has reminded us all of the serious consequences of further lockdown measures on the British economy and the nation’s health and wellbeing. For those working in hospitality, leisure, theatres, travel and tourism, Covid-19 has ravaged jobs in these sectors.

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Director, DMH Associates & Associate Fellow, University of Warwick IER
Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Director, DMH Associates & Associate Fellow, University of Warwick IER

There are serious concerns that unless there is some form of extension to or replacement of the furlough scheme, tens of thousands of job losses are inevitable. In this context, public pressure to create a fairer and more prosperous society is likely to increase.

This will bring about a paradigm shift in our thinking about schooling and its relevance to a changing world of work, home working and a sharp turn towards protecting jobs, livelihoods, health and wellbeing so often limited by structural inequalities in society.

Addressing widening educational inequalities

A new National Funding Formula for schools should ensure the funding system is more responsive to geographical areas of deprivation. However, a recent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report highlights “in the short run, the new formula will deliver funding increases of 3–4 percentage points less to schools in poorer areas than to those in more affluent areas up to 2021.” Government hopes a one-off payment of £80 per pupil aged 5-16 and a national tutoring programme targeted at more disadvantaged pupils will help address the widening of educational inequalities during lockdown. In this context, what messages will young people, teachers, parents/carers receive about the evolving education and careers landscape?

The launch of T levels

A recent FE News podcast with Minister Keegan highlighted the launch of T levels with discussion on the differences between this route and other pathways, including apprenticeships. I was struck by the reliance on a national campaign the ‘Next Level’ idea which shows students as they literally climb the floors of a building. Their rapid progression will dramatise how T Levels can help young people get further forward, faster – while also highlighting the qualification’s first three launch subjects of education and childcare, digital and construction. But the massive shock of Covid-19 and its effects on education and career opportunities requires more than this. The narrative of climbing upwards fast will need to shift more towards career adaptability, mental toughness, resilience and building a personal ‘safety net’ of support. In essence, having access to good career guidance (including highly skilled coaching techniques) addresses these basic fundamentals.

Career guidance in schools, colleges and local communities must be strengthened

The views and experiences of highly trained and qualified career development professionals in England have been overlooked by DfE, since May 2020 meetings with the professional body and the trade body has been promised but yet to materialise. Last year, a study commissioned by Careers England reported “less than a cup of coffee is being spent on careers advice for young people in our schools and colleges.”

To date, very little of the money the DfE are spending on careers actually goes to the schools and those working with and supporting young people in local communities, particularly those most in need. It is estimated that 1000 extra employment, training or education opportunities are needed each day to bring the number of young people not in education employment or training back to pre-crisis levels by October 2021.

Under the £2billion Kickstart Scheme, the Government will pay towards six months of wage costs of each 16 to 24-year-old hired by an employer. But this approach needs ‘feet on the ground’ (beyond DWP Work Coaches) to work directly with employers advocating on behalf of young people and gathering local labour market intelligence (LMI) to feedback into the education system. Adults too need to know where are the jobs and training opportunities?

The forthcoming FE White Paper should further shed light on the government’s thinking about evolving education and careers for young people and adults – aligned to a refresh of the Careers Strategy (2017). The shock to universities of a diminished international student population and uncertainty surrounding the 2020-2012 local student experience, brings a sharp focus on the availability of careers support, student placements, work experience and internships.

In our higher education landscape, those most privileged often have the best careers support made available to them delivered by highly trained professionals.

So, what’s the massive shock all about? 

In essence, we are talking about more individuals in our society being ‘unsettled’ and ‘uprooted’ from the normality of their so far lived experiences and expectations of education and work. At its core is the issue of identity, dignity, livelihood and sense of belonging and fulfilment.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Britain’s were forced to tighten their belts, contend with high inflation and increasing unemployment blighted their horizons. Fast forward fifty years, people’s expectations are higher today and in a modern society it should be an entitlement to have access to high quality careers support as part of a lifelong learning system that supports improved education, economic and social outcomes.

Interestingly, government responses back then saw the wisdom and realised the benefit of investing in careers services for young people to enable work programmes to operate effectively.[1]

Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Director, DMH Associates & Associate Fellow, University of Warwick IER

[1] Department of Employment – Careers Services Unemployment Strengthening Scheme.

icould.com
June 11, 2020
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icould.com uses the power of personal stories to inform and inspire young people’s career choices.

As part of the Education and Employers charity, it helps draw links between school subjects and jobs. It encourages young people to discover opportunities they may not have known about before. And shows what is possible in the world of work.

Free and simple to use, the site features over 1000 videos of real people talking about their careers – explaining their job role, career path and how different factors have shaped their choices.

Take a look at:

  • Career videos – from carpenters to city traders, care workers to celebrities, our real-life storytellers offer an inside view of their current job and a personal account of how they got there.
  • Job information – see details of average salary, qualifications, skills, past and future employment levels, and more below every video.
  • Articlesapprenticeships, astronauts or applying for jobs – our articles cover all things career-related, from people sharing their experiences to advice from career experts.
  • Focus On – this series offers ideas and information around key decision points, such as Choices at 14, 16 and 18 and highlights opportunities in particular job areas such as the music industry, the NHS and engineering.
Career Girls®
June 10, 2020
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The mission of Career Girls is for all girls to reach their full potential and discover their own path to empowerment through access to inspiring career role models and supportive girl-centric curriculum.

Based in the United States, CareerGirls.org is a video-based career exploration tool for girls, with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. It’s free to use and free of commercials.

It includes over 7,000 video clips featuring more than 400 women role models. These successful women work in different careers—ranging from astronaut to musician to veterinarian—all over the United States.

CareerGirls.org is unique. It provides inspirational and educational videos of real women who have made it in their chosen fields—and combines these videos with other useful tools for both girls and educators. As well as the videos, their site also includes a range of free resources which you may be able to adapt to your own information, advice and guidance environment.

Visit the Careers Girls website HERE

Career Advice Tool Available To All
June 9, 2020
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The interactivediscover me tool provides young people with suggestions of careers that may suit their personality and personal attributes. This is twinned with a ‘pathways’ tool which provides practical advice on what to do next.

The quiz is simple to use and takes about 5 minutes and the outcome report includes career ideas and a career personality map.

Access the tool here

Read more

ViewPoint: Careers Support at a Distance: The New Normal for University Careers Services
June 3, 2020
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BY CAREERSCHAP

It’s often said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and in these exceptionally challenging times I’d imagine we are all missing parts of our former routines and lives.  But unpredictable and profound changes can also provide us with opportunities to adapt in the new normal.

 In my own role as a Careers Consultant in the higher education sector I wanted to focus in on the essential shift of careers services to an online delivery model and the resources that have emerged to support both practitioners and students.  For pioneers like the Open University providing online support sits very much as business as usual but for some careers services the move from a campus to online only model of support has been a paradigm shift in a very short space of time. 

So what does online careers support look like?

The first point I’d like to make here is that it’s easy to fall into the trap in viewing online delivery as merely a set of tools e.g. email, telephone, forum, webinars, webchat, social networks and any other one-to-many and many-to-many platform.  Crucially this misses the context of how technology and the internet is so intertwined in many of our lives.  Having moved from a previous careers role three years ago that largely offered campus based face-to-face support to one now that is 100% online delivery was certainly a culture shock but I have to say one that has proved to be exciting and enlightening.

Reflecting on my own pre-covid experiences with other careers practitioners at events and conferences I found there was a diverse range of involvement and confidence levels in online careers service delivery.  Some careers services have had an established blended service offer for some time whilst for others, online delivery was minimal and ancillary to the norm of face-to-face campus-based delivery.

So, what has been incredible and heartening to witness is the extent that university careers services have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by rapidly shifting their support to an online model, being there to support students in these difficult times.  There’s a really great piece in WONKE Supporting student careers in challenging times, on how the sector has responded.  Key tactics have included supporting students in the jobs market with online workshops,  virtual careers fairs, online assessment centre support and strengthening careers resources that speak to different groups of students at different stages in their student journey.

How sharing intelligence and resources has helped.

Both AGCAS and the CDI have also responded rapidly to the needs of careers professionals to help keep us up to date in developments such as labour market information, sharing best practice, resource development and establishing channels of communication to stakeholders. 

The ISE has produced a steady stream of research and news updates about the impact of the crisis on student recruitment and employers.  Prospects has also shared regular labour market updates and articles on  the human impact about how COVID-19 has affected career opportunities.  Platforms such as NextStepSupport.org (an open collaboration between a number of organisations that provide support and services to students and recent graduates) have been launched. New podcasts have emerged chronicling (and sharing good advice) the impact on lives and careers whilst platforms such as OpenLearn have been instrumental in sharing free content such as the recently launched (and very timely) MSE’s Academy of Money.  

What will the new normal be like for careers services?

The conversation has now moved into how universities will reopen with Cambridge the first to announce the decision that all face to face lectures will be moved online until the summer of 2021.

Whilst there is uncertainty how other universities will follow suit and which courses they can meaningfully transfer online I wanted to think about what this may mean for careers services?

For many, an online curiosity has turned into an online reality.  Some unintended consequences may well have emerged.  We are in the midst of a rapid advance towards the digitisation of careers services that goes beyond just technological tools but a change in mindset towards the value of online careers support.  This has the benefit of equality of access for students with no or limited campus access e.g. students enrolled on online courses, or in the workplace through apprenticeships) and students with health and wellbeing needs that had made campus access difficult.  Neurodiverse students for example may well prefer not to access large group face-to-face environments and so can benefit from new technologies and have real choice. 

My predictions for careers services and practitioners. 

Technology can remove campus restrictions of time, space and place and careers practitioners are increasingly finding themselves woven into the same online social fabric as the students they want to support.  Practice may not have kept pace with online innovations and a purely online world of careers support is likely to highlight skills gaps that takes time to identify and bridge.

When some normality takes shape there will be an acknowledgement of what the early adopters have come to realise.  That online careers support can provide increased scale and reach to serve a wider range of students and that guidance at a distance whether by telephone, skype, email, webinar or social channels can be impactful and valued by students.  The new normal doesn’t have to be about what we’ve all lost but also about what else we have gained.  This makes it even more critical that rapid adoption is supported by evidence-based approaches, staff CPD and sharing of best practice. 

Adventures in Career Development
May 26, 2020
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Thoughts about career and other stuff from Tristram Hooley.

Building Career Capital: Developing Business Leaders’ Career Mobility

I’ve just published a new article entitled Building career capital: developing business leaders career mobility with Cathy Brown and Tracey Wond. The paper is based on research that Cathy conducted as part of her doctoral thesis. It was published in Career Development International but you can find an open access version on the University of Derby research archive

In the article we set out a new framework for career capital based on research with 36 business leaders who have recently undertaken a role transition within a UK construction business. We cluster these aspects of career capital under three categories: Knowing Self, Knowing How and Knowing Whom. These are illustrated in the figure above. 

Our argument is that these are aspects that prove to be important to people’s careers. In the article we explore a range of different strategies that people can use to effectively develop and utilise their career capital as well as compensating for the gaps that they have in their career capital. 

We hope that the article will be of interest to researcher and career theorists, but also to business leaders and organisational managers who wish to build individual and organisational career mobility. It may also be of interest to careers professionals who might find it helpful as a way of thinking about the elements that people need to identify and develop as part of their careers. 

Brown, C., Hooley, T. and Wond, T. (2020). Building career capital: developing business leaders’ career mobility. Career Development International, Ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-07-2019-0186

These Are the Three Key Dynamics Shaping Modern Careers
May 20, 2020
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The following article was written by Lisa Mainiero Professor of Management at Fairfield University and is published in collaboration with LSE Business Review.

The career landscape of the 21st century, characterised by work interruptions, opt-outs, and temporary contingent work assignments, requires that we think differently about linear careers. 

Until now, much of the career literature has been based on men in the twentieth century who had linear careers in a single corporation or industry. However, men and women in the 21st century have unique career trajectories, sometimes fulfilling the ideal of a linear career, but more often characterised by opt-outs, contingent employment contracts, and part-time work. The Kaleidoscope Career Model (the KCM) (Mainiero & Sullivan, 20052006) addresses the unique features of male and female careers and takes into consideration the non-linear aspects of contingent work. The KCM posits that needs for authenticity, balance and challenge over the course of a career will be present but arise at different intensities across the lifespan.

The three parameters

Read more

CDI Position Paper on Web Videoconferencing for Personal Careers Guidance
May 11, 2020
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As web videoconferencing is becoming an increasingly common method for delivering personal and group career guidance and information the CDI has published a position paper.

This paper considers how Practitioners should review their practice to ensure safe and ethical approaches are adopted. 


SWOT Analysis: Is The Job For Me?

This activity will help clients to appraise a new job or career opportunity by assessing their strengths and weaknesses against the opportunities and threats created by the role. 

 What To Do: 

1. Consider the new role/opportunity. What would you be expected to do, and what skills and experience would you need? 

2. Fill in the chart below, taking each section in turn: 

Your Strengths 

Think about the skills and experience you have that is applicable to the new role/opportunity. 

  • What have you achieved? 
  • What are you good at? 
  • What skills do you have? 
  • What are your personal qualities? 

Your Weaknesses 

Think about what skills and experience the role requires that you do not have. 

  • Do you lack any skills/qualifications? 
  • Do you lack any work experience? 
  • What personal qualities would you need to portray? 
  • What do you not enjoy doing? 

Opportunities 

Think about why you want the job. What does it offer in terms of development opportunities and how far does it go to meeting your career needs? 

Threats 

Think about the disadvantages of the job, the downsides and the risks of not getting it. 

  • What would the impact be on your personal circumstances, e.g. family, home and relationships? 
  • Who might you be competing with? 
  • Are there any requirements you can’t meet, e.g. are you required to drive but don’t have a car? 
Would Filling Careers Advice Gaps Make University Applications Fairer?
February 21, 2020
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The majority of students and recent graduates believe the university application process is fair, however, the support they receive making their career choices is a concern for many.

New Savanta ComRes polling for Universities UK (UUK) of almost 1,500 British adults who applied to university or college in the UK between 2015-2019 has found that seven in ten (70%) recent applicants think the current process is fair, although more than one in four recent applicants (28%) disagree that the application process works well in its current state.

Key findings

  • Almost two thirds of recent applicants (64%) agree that the application process works well in its current state.
  • Those who consider the application process to be unfair, most commonly say this is because the career advice they were given wasn’t very helpful (34%). The second most frequently given reason is that the application process is too long (29%) including 40% of applicants who are the first in their immediate family to apply to university (vs. 24% of those who are not).
  • Applicants report mixed feelings about whether their offers drive them to perform well academically. While four in five (82%) say their offers motivated them to work harder, half (55%) say they made them complacent in studying for exams. Those with contextual offers were more likely than those with conditional offers to say that their offers made them less stressed about the admissions process (78% contextual vs. 69% conditional) and more likely to be complacent in studying for exams (74% contextual vs. 55% conditional).
  • The vast majority of applicants (79%) feel very or fairly well supported by universities and colleges during the applications process.
  • Those receiving contextual offers are twice as likely to say they do not understand the different types of offers (27% vs 13% overall).
  • While almost two-thirds of applicants (64%) think it is fine to apply with predicted grades, one in three (29%) applicants described not having exam results before applying to university as a challenge. More than half of recent applicants (56%) feel universities and colleges should only make offers after people have received their academic results.
  • BAME applicants and those who were the first in their immediate family to apply to university are more likely to agree that offers should be made after receiving academic results (60% BAME applicants vs. 54% White applicants; 63% first in immediate family vs. 49% not first).

The findings are among those being used to inform a major review of university admissions, established by UUK in July 2019, involving UCAS, school, college, student and university representatives. It is examining the evidence and will recommend improvements to ensure the system works in students’ best interests.

The ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group will also consider the value of applicants receiving offers after they have received their academic results.

Professor Julia Buckingham, President of UUK and Vice-Chancellor & President of Brunel University London, said:

“These findings will inform the recommendations of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group on how the system can be made fairer and operate in the best interests of all applicants. The group is considering the impact of different types of offers on students and whether it would be beneficial for applicants if universities offered places after they have their grades.

“On the whole university admissions are seen as fair, but all students must have faith in the system and receive careers advice to help them make the best decisions about what and where to study. It is the job of universities, colleges, employers, schools and the government to work together to fill the gaps in good quality careers advice for applicants, and particularly to disadvantaged groups.

“We want to do more to accelerate progress on widening participation at university. The advisory group will make recommendations on the role of good careers advice, contextual offers, bursaries and other incentives in encouraging applications by students from underrepresented communities. These findings point to the need for universities to better explain and increase understanding of contextual offers and their impact on students.”

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive said:

‘Its welcome news that most students agree the current application process is fair, and that the clear majority of applicants felt supported when applying, particularly by UCAS.

‘Wider careers advice is an area that students feel they need more support with though, and we are playing an increasingly vital role as they make big decisions about their futures. This year we launched our new UCAS Hub, meaning that for the first time, all students will have access to online personalised information and advice to support them as they consider all their options. We’ve also just integrated key content from Which? University into the UCAS website providing students and their advisers with easy access to valued, independent advice.’

‘This year, we’re expecting some universities’ offer-making strategies to change, though we need to ensure that the admissions process remains fair and transparent for years to come. We are already exploring innovative reforms to the admissions process, including how changing when students receive offers could bring benefits.’

Savanta ComRes conducted interviews online with 1,499 adults aged 18+ who have applied to a UK university/college/other higher education institution between 2015-2019 and have been UK residents at the time of applying. Data was weighted by age, gender and region in order to be representative of all applicants between 2015-2019. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. An executive summary of the findings is attached to this email and full tables are available at 

Separately, a total of 181 higher education providers, schools, colleges, current students, recent graduates, parents, employers, representative groups and other bodies responded to UUK’s call for evidence, which is also informing the work of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group.

The ‘Fair admissions review‘ advisory group is made up of UCAS, school, college, student, and university representatives. It is expected to publish its findings in spring 2020.

The review will be sensitive to the different contexts that higher education providers are operating in across different UK nations, and work to complement successful initiatives already underway in different parts of the UK.

Contextual offers – lower grade entry requirements – recognise the potential of students whose personal circumstances, such as caring responsibilities and living in the most deprived areas, may have restricted their achievements at school or college.

The chair of the ‘Fair admissions review’ advisory group is Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor & President, Ulster University. 

Other members are: Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor, Durham University; Debra Gray, Principal, Grimsby Institute; Professor David Green CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of Worcester; Caroline Hoddinott, Headteacher at Haybridge High School and Sixth Form; Tracey Lancaster, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Resources), Leeds Beckett University; Beth Linklater, Assistant Principal, Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke; Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews; Clare Marchant, Chief Executive, UCAS; Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach, University of Bath; David Ruck, Head of Higher Education and Careers, Bristol Grammar School; Lee Sanders, Registrar and Secretary, University of Birmingham; Claire Sosienski Smith, Vice-President for Higher Education, National Union of Students; Professor Mary Stuart CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Lincoln; Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Canterbury Christ Church University; Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor, Aberystwyth University; Jo Wilson, Head of Sixth Form, The Pingle Academy, Derbyshire; Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University.