The Government’s Careers Strategy — Making the Most of Everyone’s Skills and Talents — aims to create a world class careers provision that is “accessible to everyone” and which “helps people understand the range of opportunities available to them in today’s economy.” One of the many things this means for education providers is that they have a duty to implement some form of careers strategy for all learners, which includes the opportunity to access Labour Market Insight, live jobs, and tangible opportunities that are linked to their learning outcomes and personal long-term goals.
For Birmingham Adult Education Service (BAES), these duties are closely aligned with their own aim of getting as many local people as possible to take advantage of the employment opportunities in their area, by supporting them and investing in their learning and development of skills. Yet in order to put this into practice, they needed a way of getting local insight in front of their learners. To help them achieve this, they recently invested in Emsi’s online careers portal, Career Coach.
A simple tool to help people make more informed career choices
The idea behind Career Coach is to put more knowledge about local employment prospects into the hands of people seeking employment, so that they are better equipped and empowered to make more informed choices about their future careers.
Beginning with a quick careers assessment that directs people to the sorts of potential career options most suited to their desires and abilities, the tool then offers them a wealth of insight about employment opportunities for these particular occupations in their area, such as job demand, salary expectations and transferable skills. Crucially, this insight is linked to the courses offered by BAES, so that people searching for potential careers can instantly see what training is on offer to help them achieve their aspirations.
According to the organisation’s Head of Learner Services, Jasi Bridgman, the tool has been really well received by those coming through their doors, and is proving to be a powerful means of helping BAES engage and direct people as they consider their career options:
“One of the things that really stood out to us about Career Coach is its simplicity, which is vital for us when dealing with lower level learners. To have a tool that can take learners on a journey from simple assessment, through to local jobs insight, and then link it to the courses we offer, is a huge benefit both to us and to the people we are working with”
Embedding Career Coach throughout the organisation
BAES have embedded Career Coach onto their website, and this has proved to be popular, with almost 500 visits in December alone. But along with external use for those thinking of what career they might be considering, it is also playing a big role internally, having been integrated into the organisation where it is serving a number of functions.
For instance, the tool has been embedded in the Learner Services Team, and throughout the curriculum, with curriculum leads and tutors all receiving training on how to use it to give ongoing direction to learners about the potential careers opportunities that exist for them. This has led to good feedback, with curriculum leads and tutors alike appreciating how the insight offered by the tool can be used as a powerful motivator for their learners to persevere in their studies.
Another use of the tool is in helping BAES in their regular performance meetings with Birmingham City Council and the BAES Advisory Board, where they have to provide evidence that the service is really helping local people get back into work, and that it is aligned with the Council’s Skills Priority Plan. By being able to demonstrate how Career Coach is being used externally to give potential learners insight on in-demand jobs, and how it is being used internally to provide careers guidance to direct existing learners to sustainable jobs, the tool is proving to be extremely helpful to BAES in articulating the value it is bringing to the local community.
Planning a curriculum that is geared to better employment outcomes
Another expectation that organisations like BAES are facing is the increasing emphasis both Government and local government are placing on stronger links between learning and employment outcomes. This means that there is a need to develop a curriculum that takes account of local employment demand. To help them achieve this, BAES again turned to Emsi, this time investing in the online data tool, Analyst.
Amongst other things, Analyst allows education providers to map current curriculum against employment demand in their area, giving an evidence base from which to make informed decisions about future provision. For instance, BAES has used the insight provided by the tool to develop a new course in the Digital Skills sector, based on related business growth within the local economy, and also incorporating the skills that the data shows employers are looking for. Elsewhere in the Health and Social Care department, Analyst is supporting a full redesign of the curriculum offer to ensure that learners have access to courses that are closely linked to the most in-demand vacancies in the sector within the Birmingham region.
With Analyst helping to produce a more employment-focused curriculum, and Career Coach enabling the organisation to better direct people to sustainable jobs, BAES have a suite of tools that are not only helping them achieve their aim of supporting local people develop and use their skills, but which are also providing a powerful way of articulating this in the context of Government requirements. As Jasi commented:
“Using these tools not only gives us the assurance that we are helping local people get the right training and the right job, but it also gives us the confidence to demonstrate and articulate to the likes of Ofsted and Matrix that we really are making a difference to the lives of individuals and the community we serve.”
You can download a PDF of this case study here. If you would like to know more about how Career Coach and Analyst can help you make a difference to the lives of people in your area, get in touch.