As part of the recent Education Select Committee report into just what the flip has happened with school’s careers services since September there was a lot of talk of a new or adjusted role for the National Careers Service.
Paragraph 74 raises the suggestion that the NCS should become a broker between groups of schools and those offering IAG services to help ensure that schools are spending their budgets wisely and getting a quality service for their cash.
As I blogged about here:
that’s all fine and good and will help many schools but, those have reacted with speed and efficiency to the new duty will not require this support. There is, though, an interesting push behind that idea; that the NCS could be doing more to help schools floundering to do the best for their students regarding impartial IAG but without the time or expertise to do so. So what can the NCS do to assist as many schools as possible, within the realms of their constrained budget. What would I be looking for from them?
1) Their current online offer is a strange beast from a school’s point of view. On the positive side, the website has some job profiles which we can use with children but that’s about it.
The skills tests feel very basic in their presentation compared to the comparable parts of Fast Tomato or Prefino. The user interface looks like a an old maths GCSE paper has been scanned in and a multiple choice box tacked on down the side and the small number of tests with students I done haven’t gone well.
The best part of the site, or at least the part I regularly use with students, especially students searching for apprenticeships, is the online CV builder. It’s clearly laid out and the majority of students can work their way through the different sections under their own steam and it produces a professional looking document.
This is massively outweighed by the negatives though. Students under 16 (i.e all of them) can’t sign up for a Life long learning account so nothing can be saved and everything has to be done in one session.
In fact this one positive is massively hobbled by a 30 minute time out clause on that part of the site which means that students will input their details, text their mum because they’ve forgotten the address of their work experience, look up their predicted grades in their planner only for the site to log them out automatically after half an hour. It makes a good online resource pretty much impossible to use with students.
To help schools, their skills test tools should be made much more student friendly and accessible without the need to sign up for a Life long learning account.
2) This week saw the launch of an exciting scheme from Barclays called LifeSkills
which holds much promise. Included in the resources for schools that sign up are a number of clearly laid out, easy to understand lesson plans for teachers to deliver around personal presentation and branding, interview techniques etc. I’ll definitely be incorporating parts of them into some lesson plans I’ve already got.
This is extremely positive and welcomed educational input from an employer but why the NCS aren’t already covering this part of the scheme? Hosting a few well written PDF’s with lesson ideas that are as clearly laid out as the Barclay’s examples shouldn’t be beyond reason. From a school’s point of view the sheer amount of online careers resources is blinding. It takes time and networks to spread good word of mouth about sites or resources for a school to start using a site as a regular part of it’s careers education offer. Why doesn’t the NCS become the sign poster of excellence in free online careers resources?
The NCS should have an online section with careers lessons for a basic careers education program that schools could adapt to suit their own needs and situations.
So there are two, both online, both inexpensive in the scheme of things, activities that the NCS could do to assist schools in making solid steps towards a comprehensive careers program. Involving themselves in this sort of work would also have greater benefits in the future as the young people become aware of their brand and so would be much more likely to utilise their services if they needed to throughout their future career.