One of the colleges we are partnering with, Chesterfield College, has just been featured as a case study in the October issue of the Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling. In their piece – Further education learners’ prior experience of career education and guidance: A case study of Chesterfield College – Amy Woolley and Tristram Hooley examine the state of careers education since the Connexions scheme was abolished and the responsibility for career guidance was transferred to schools.
According to the authors, this has resulted in something of a hit and miss approach to careers guidance with some schools maintaining or even improving services while others have allowed provision to decline. For instance, they point to a 2014 survey by the Association of Colleges (AoC) which found that less than half of the 341 sixth form schools and colleges surveyed identified schools in their areas as providing students with independent careers advice about post-16 choices. In addition, the majority of respondents (82%) reported that they had not seen a careers adviser prior to coming to college.
The authors then point to the example of Chesterfield College as an institution that is attempting to tackle the problem head on. They cite the College’s “well developed and popular on-programme careers support for students,” which includes:
- One–to-one careers interviews to students
- Group career learning sessions within the curriculum
- Support given to students to develop their career researching skills and employability
In addition, the College’s exit career support is highlighted, with tutors encouraging students to access additional support from the College’s guidance team.
But given the report’s highlighting of the lack of careers advice prior to going into further education, perhaps most crucial is what the College is doing before students enroll. Back in 2012, the College introduced a new admissions process, which includes the provision of a careers interview for all full time courses and some part time courses. According to the piece, this has been enhanced by the addition of labour market information from EMSI’s Career Coach tool:
“Subsequently this pre-entry guidance has been deepened with more use being made of local labour market information. This is done via an online tool called career coach that links careers with labour market information, to enable applicants to link the course with future careers. The increased prominence for pre-entry guidance is in response to the change in careers provision in schools.”
The authors conclude that the College’s proactive approach seeks to ensure that support is provided and employability is maximized — an approach which has been recognised by Ofsted, who noted in their glowing report on the College that, “particularly good information, advice and guidance ensure learners are on the appropriate programmes”.
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