Sir John Holman, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of York and Senior Education Adviser to the Wellcome Trust, has written a timely piece on careers guidance in schools for the Guardian. Identifying the same problem that we wrote about recently here, Sir John provides some positive answers to the question, “What would careers advice look like if it were good?”
Having been around the globe in search of answers, Sir John says that whilst there is no “magic bullet” to providing good careers guidance, the answer lies in applying some simple concepts and practices, and doing them “consistently and well”. Very helpfully, he sets out the following eight benchmarks for what good career guidance could and should look like:
- A stable careers programme
- Learning from labour market information
- Addressing the needs of each student
- Linking curriculum learning to careers
- Encounters with employers and employees
- Experience of workplaces
- Encounters with further and higher education
- Personal guidance
What is really pleasing about this list is the inclusion of point number 2, as this is often all too easily passed over in careers guidance. It is easy to assume that careers guidance can be based on what a person likes doing, what they are good at, what they want to do, what qualifications they have and then to point them in the direction of how to get there. But if the local labour market has little or no need for people to fill that type of occupation, then not only is the guidance given ineffective, it could even prove to be detrimental if it ends up pointing a person in the direction of a career that they will struggle to find work in.
Sir John’s article sums up rather neatly why good knowledge of the local labour market is so crucial:
“It’s impossible for even the best-informed careers specialist – let alone a regular classroom teacher – to have all the facts about the ever-changing labour market at their fingertips. Access to up-to-date career and labour market information can have a major impact on social mobility. If pupils and their parents know what pay you get for different jobs and where and how numerous the vacancies are, they are more likely to make choices that will lift them socially and challenge their stereotypical assumptions about the right job for ‘people like me.'”
Now this is all very true, but the inevitable question that arises is “Where does the careers specialist actually get this information from?” We think we have the answer. Career Coach, our online tool which is being used in over 40 colleges throughout the country, does exactly what Sir John is calling for, using the most comprehensive labour market information out there to give career seekers answers to the following questions:
- How much does the career I want to go into actually pay?
- What are the employment prospects for this occupation in my local area?
- What training do I need to do to get into these jobs?
As you can see from the screenshots above, the information in Career Coach is exactly the kind of knowledge highlighted by Sir John Holman as being needed in careers guidance. This is why Career Coach is not only being used to great effect in colleges, but is also being promoted by some of our partner colleges in their local schools. We would encourage you to visit the website of one of our partner colleges (see Chichester College for example), and see for yourself why Career Coach is proving to be a tool of great value and huge potential.
For more information regarding Career Coach, contact Andy Durman on firstname.lastname@example.org