Careers Theory

Is it time to admit that LMI needs a rethink?

Every Careers practitioner understands the value of Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) and the worth of placing advice and guidance in the context of the reality of the world of work their clients will be engaging with. Be it the skill requirements of tomorrow, typical salary expectations for roles or the projected demand and fall in employment sectors, there is no debate on the importance of targeting LMI activities and information throughout an employability program or guidance interview. And, looking at the range of data that is considered LMI,

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What is LMI?

you can see why.

This is reinforced by guidance

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DfE School Careers Guidance

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CDI Employability Framework 2020

so it’s presence becomes a fundamental aspect of any CEIAG quality monitoring process.

LMI also has the backing of research both in graduate employability schemes

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and in the wider theory context

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and is a unit in Careers Adviser training.

Despite this though, there seems to be a lot of evidence that LMI, or rather how LMI is currently being used isn’t winning the hearts and minds of young people in a whole range of career related decisions.

When making decisions about Higher Education for example it seems that the views and opinions of parents are the most valued by young people

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and LMI as presented can fail to remold the inner beliefs of young people that have already taken hold.

Over the past few years, we have spoken to hundreds of students about their next steps. They have consistently emphasised that their parents are their most trusted sources of information and often the “makers or breakers” for students weighing options. Students in Teesside, for example, explained that their sense that colleges or universities are “selling” HE courses was a major turn-off.

Many parents can hold sceptical views about HE, sometimes based on misconceptions. Our 2018 report on parental engagement with university outreach showed that although most, regardless of socio-economic group, want their children to go to university, they also have deep fears about debt, living costs and employment prospects.

These positive or negative views the young person holds towards certain educational pathways are subsets of the general views they have already soaked up regarding the value education can bring to their lives.

It also seems parents and siblings can have significant sway over young people’s decisions and views across the range of career related decisions.

1. Family members remain an important source of information

It is to be expected that family members are a key influence on young people’s educational decisions, with many pupils telling us they discuss their options with their parents and siblings. Some though were surprisingly aware of biases their parents may have.

There should be important lessons here for those who design LMI materials, those who deliver them and those who hope that LMI can assist with their future talent pipelines and, I would propose, lessons could be found in a controversial place.

Much LMI delivery is based around data and presenting statistics in memorable ways through display

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or regional websites to improve the awareness of relevant data. Publishing these statistics in charts and graphs is following the Rationalistic use of LMI described by Staunton

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I would argue though that, as the studies above show, their impact is brief and and insubstantial compared to pull of the family, tradition and community.

This was something that the marketing minds behind the Brexit campaign (in it’s many guises) gleefully and successfully embraced during and after the referendum campaign. Brexit is (still) an emotive issue but putting aside your reaction to the outcome, any observer would surely conclude that the messages of the Leave campaign resonated and hit home with greater impact than anything the Remain campaign produced.

The Remain campaign forlornly churned out numerous press messages based on sourced economic impact work with data and statistics hoping to sway voters by pointing out the economic risks of leaving the EU

Rather than accentuating the positive, Cameron and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sought to scare the electorate into voting their way, arguing that a vote for Leave would plunge the U.K. economy into a recession and cost the average household about sixty-two hundred dollars a year.

Almost all economists agree that the E.U. has been good to Britain. But the sixty-two-hundred-a-year figure was so large, and so specific, that many people didn’t believe it.

Without rehashing an issue that has divided families, generations and the country for three years now, my concern is not with the economic validity of those arguments but that they are weaker arguments to make than the more emotive campaign waged by the Leave side.

Remain also had problems with the message. Its task was inherently more difficult than that of Leave: the arguments for staying in the EU are complicated, economic, numerical, hard to explain and often dull, while the arguments for leaving are simple and emotional.

Posters using queues of refugees to criticize historic immigration levels under EU control or proclaiming that Turkey will soon join the EU are both clearly reprehensible in their message of fear and the highly debatable nature of their accuracy but these were the wilder extreme of the messages disseminated by the campaign to Leave.

Overall their brand and communications tapped into key narratives felt by, demonstrably, a majority of the country; that immigration was too high, that public services were not coping, that the old adage that working hard will bring success had been broken and that the very politicians elected to represent them were not listening to those communities. Again, it is not the validity of those grievances or how culpable the EU is for them that I want to raise, only that they landed with their target audience. One of the main players behind the campaign, Dominic Cummings outlined the reasons for this as

The closest approximation to the truth that we can get is that Leave won because of a combination of 1) three big, powerful forces with global impact: the immigration crisis, the financial crisis, and the euro crisis which created conditions in which the referendum could be competitive; 2) Vote Leave implemented some unrecognised simplicities in its operations that focused attention more effectively than the other side on a simple and psychologically compelling story, thus taking advantage of those three big forces; and 3) Cameron and Osborne operated with a flawed model of what constitutes effective political action and had bad judgement about key people

and it’s his point 2 that LMI campaigners can learn from. Find what resonates with your target audience and tell a story that appeals to that narrative. As we have seen from the studies above, these messages should not just land with young people but also their parents and carers as well if you want to appeal to culture and change decisions.

It feels remiss in a post such as this to not offer some suggestions to clarify how I think this could work for LMI messaging so here goes:

If you want to encourage more young people from disadvantaged or traditional working class backgrounds to apply for your historically privately educated or middle class industry? Those communities feel that there is an us/them approach in those employment spaces and remove those roles from their realistic routes because of this. So use role models at the center of your campaign materials but not, as many firms currently do, as inspirational beacons but as disruptors, shaking up the establishment. Paint them as people who had to fight hard to succeed but they did and no they need your help to battle for their space alongside the more privileged colleagues they work with every day. The pitch is not to follow in the role models footsteps but to join them in this space. This approach would build motivation about wanting to overcome barriers to industries that have been erected to keep people some different backgrounds out.

Trying to increase aspiration to work in your historically low wage sector such as the care industry? Use the lack of local, respected industries that many communities feel do not exist in their area. So forget about using LMI to increase awareness of the growing demand for workers in the sector and use LMI to show the accessibility of work in local communities and show how the work is valued and relied upon in those communities. This would alter the perception of care work to position it as a bedrock of the community with a higher status within that local community.

These are quick suggestions that would still be highly reliant on targeted advertising spending using digital marketing or behavioural science expertise to have any hope of achieving impact on decisions and culture but, I hope, they show how LMI could be framed using narrative to appeal to audiences that require more tailored approaches to reach them. This is something that FE College marketing departments are already utilising based on market research

We discovered we could split our prospects into five distinct groups, ranging from Career-Driven Chris, who has always known that he wanted to become a chef, to A-level Ali, who is very open about the fact that applying to college is only a back-up to A levels.

Both these students could apply to your college, but clearly both will need very different communications to maximise the chance that they will convert. Chris isn’t interested in “college vs school” type blogs or content; he wants to know the latest news from the hospitality team and the restaurants at which former students have gone on to work. Ali, on the other hand, needs to be convinced that a vocational option is a viable alternative to A levels.

Weaving LMI into these more tailored messages aid the narrative the institution wants to tell. For the Career minded applicant, they want to hear of the specific local employers hiring graduates directly from the College catering course while for the back-up applicant, the general wage premiums from a range FE courses would be useful data to include in the messaging sent to them.

Returning to the approaches to LMI proposed by Tom Staunton, these proposed uses of LMI are part of the Radical approach

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for they aim to change the status quo by highlighting certain data or choosing to share certain data points over others. This is a much less prosaic use of LMI than the Rationalistic which comes with the danger of hyperbole but, as the Brexit campaign shows, it is this kind of messaging that can elicit stronger and more lasting reactions and decision change from audiences.

NICEC @instcareer Seminar: Careers provision in Further Education – 18th November 2019

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The next NICEC seminar on Monday 18th November 2019 5.00pm-6.30pm will be focusing on Careers Provision in Further Education. We’re planning for the event to spark thoughts and conversation from attendees on the similarities and differences on the Careers provision in Further Education compared to other settings as well as putting the spotlight on a sector not always well represented in Careers policy conversations. Sometimes referred to as the “forgotton” sector in Education, Further Education is currently enjoying a rare period in the national spotlight as new vocational qualifications come on line and policy makers raise the importance of the sector to a post Brexit skills landscape.

We’re fortunate to be joined by Anthony Barnes, one of the authors of the Gatsby Benchmark toolkit for Colleges and Emily Tanner from the Careers and Enterprise Company who will revealing new Compass data based on responses from the FE sector.

Speakers include

Russell George – will introduce the session with an overview of the context of work in FE including the roll-out of T-levels and funding constraints and provide a case study of delivery in Milton Keynes College

Anthony Barnes will share insights from the development of the Colleges Gatsby Tool Kit on challenges and good practice in careers provision.

Emily Tanner will share insights from The Careers & Enterprise Company drawing on the Compass benchmarking tool.

There will then be a discussion on similarities and differences with delivery in other settings.

Register for tickets to join us at Hamilton House (WC1H 9BB) for the seminar here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/careers-provision-in-further-education-tickets-77371441063

Career & Social Justice: Recognitive perspectives and the hero factor

At a recent NICEC seminar on social justice the discussion coalesced around two of my favourite interests; Careers and films.

Social Justice Careers work asks CEIAG practitioners to not only be versed and mindful in the wider socio-economic and sociological factors that may face their clients but also involve into their practice information, guidance and challenge to enable individuals to better recognise and navigate the adverse winds of a system weighed against them. Hooley, Sultana & Thomsen have published two collections of chapters on this subject with the aim of shaping a new dialogue around pluralistic approaches to careers guidance and advocating a place for socially minded guidance in a neoliberal world.

A focus of both one of the chapters and the session that I attended was a workshop for practitioners devised by Kristin Midttun and Phil McCash about Social Justice which introduced and allowed discussion of the work of Barry Irving who proposes a four concept model.

irving social justice

For Irving, a recognitive perspective tasks practitioners to take the point of view that clients will have influences and factors that shape any basic wish to participate in the labour market. A client’s family and community will influence their choice making process and may even cause options to be ruled out completely and have faced socio-economic repression as a community that has molded those views. With this recognition, then CEIAG practitioners can play their part in helping the clients they serve overcome oppression,

Hence, I am in agreement with Arthur (2014), that “A just society would be one in which the constraints of oppression and domination are eliminated, allowing people from all groups to develop and reach their full human potential”

These “group identities” can result in a wide range of macro outcomes, for example the lower number of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds employed as apprentices or lower application rates to Russell Group universities from those with suitable grades but from lower income areas.

It struck me that the tensions that rise to the surface in those groups (family, community, culture) when the non-recognitive perspective is challenged is also a rich sourcing ground for film makers looking for stories. A number of films concentrate on the tales of individuals breaking molds created by or forced upon groups who face social injustice.

A non exhaustive run down of films in this category could include:

Blinded By the Light

Blinded_by_the_Light_(2019_film_poster)

A young Muslim teen in 1980’s Luton discovers the lyrics and music of Bruce Springsteen which opens his eyes to a career in writing and life beyond what his family have imagined for him. Based on the biographical writings of the Luton journalist Sarfaz Manzoor, the film is a coming of age or Bildungsroman tale in which the protagonist discovers artistic and cultural influences that initially clash with his own family identity but ultimately allow him to discover a talent upon which to base a profession. From the same Director, Gurinder Chadha, who previously had success with Bend it like Beckham, a film with similar themes of family and religious tradition (in this instance, the main character is from a Sikh background) clashing against the protagonists non traditional career choice.

Billy Elliott

Billy_Elliot_movie

The hugely successful film based on a play that went onto become a hugely successful musical is a core example of this genre as a young boy from a northern, mining community breaks the expectations of gender and class to embrace a career as a ballet dancer. A recurring theme of these films is the main character’s need to embrace a career with an artistic or expressive aspect that eschews the practical vocations in the local labour market.

Hairspray/Flashdance/High School Musical

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This films are grouped together as the main characters share the same wish to forge a career in singing or dancing. Characters face initial resistance to achieve their career goals as their appearance (Hairspray), interest in a non macho pursuit (High School Musical) or lower class background (Flashdance) do not conform to the traditional sourcing pools for these areas.

Legally Blonde

Legally_Blonde_film_poster

Another film in which a protagonist breaks loose of class and appearance stereotypes to achieve a desired career is Legally Blonde. Based on a book which found it’s inspiration from the author’s real life experiences attending Stanford Law School. Our protagonist here uses knowledge and skills gained from her interest in beauty and presentation and, with plenty of studying hard montages, uses these traits to break free of the expectations of her community to win the case and show her suitability for the academic world of law she wishes to gain entry to.

Pad Man

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An example of this genre of film from outside Western Cinema would be the highly enjoyable 2018 Hindi film Pad Man. Based on a true life story of a social entrepreneur who battled against societal, family and gender conformity to design, market and sell hygienic sanitary wear for women across India. This is an interesting example to include as the protagonist of the film is male and so coming from a more traditional position of holding societal capital within the depicted community but entering a career field in which he faces obstruction due to community tradition, religious separation and family expectation. The self-developmental motivations of the character are important to note and the wish for societal change that empowers previously oppressed individuals. A vital aspect of the success of the invention is the establishment of small sanitary pad factories, staffed mostly by women, that can produce and sell them throughout the rural villages.

Hidden Figures/Men of Honour/Marshall/42

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A sub-genre within a sub-genre are films which (usually based on true stories) tell of the hard won advancement towards equality for African Americans across professional spaces. Hidden Figures details the important work of woman of colour in engineering and maths for NASA, Men of Honour focuses on the first African American Master Diver in the US Navy while Marshall and 42 tell the tales of Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson breaking barriers to succeed in their chosen fields of law and baseball.

These films have their own tropes which, through audience familiarity, can cause subsequent films to achieve diminishing cultural returns despite telling important stories. This phenomenon is brilliantly teased in this Bill Burr stand-up bit on the subject of race in movies

But, despite the ribbing because of the similarities, a social justice issue remains in the construction of the protagonists career in each story depicted.

When looking at these films, it struck me how the construct of the narrative ensures that the protagonist is presented as the hero to the audience with their goal of forging into a new world beyond the limits that family/religion/community/society impose upon them.

The Hero’s Journey

In his defining text “The Hero with with a Famous Faces” Joseph Campbell outlined the  monomyth structure of the Hero’s journey. The protagonists in the films described above all experience the call to adventure that Campbell describes sometimes even through happenstance,

The adventure may begin as a mere blunder… or still again, one may be only casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man

Billy Elliott is sent to the gym to learning boxing and only happens upon a ballet class by accident. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde applies and starts at Harvard Law with the initial aim of winning back her boyfriend who has enraged her by not proposing.

A little way into the journey a mentor appears,

the first encounter of the hero journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass

such as Robert De Niro’s Master Chief Petty Officer in Men of Honour.

An initiation period starts

Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials.

such as Jimmy’s (Eminem) initial rap battle in 8 Mile when, defending his co-worker, he causes a significant set back and a further challenge to rise again from his mentor Future.

The build up of the pressure between the hero and the barriers inhibiting his journey now has to come to the forefront

In this step the hero must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his life. In many myths and stories this is the father

such as Jess admitting to her mother that she has secretly been playing football and wants to take up the offer of a scholarship at an American College in Bend it like Beckham.

The ultimate boon is the achievement of the goal such as Alex’s successful audition at the end of Flashdance but then our hero finds acceptance with those who implemented the barriers that inhibited them originally,

The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds

such as the example of Billy’s father attending a performance of Swan Lake.

Impact on CEIAG & Social Justice

Is it too far to propose that the presentation of these protagonists as positive heroes and heroines shapes perceptions and views of those who do not enact this positive self-identity and break out of the restraints that hold them back? Do CEIAG practitioners allow such media to shape their own practice when working with clients facing repressive barriers in their own lives and do practitioners take their clues from such media about what is even repression to begin with?

This can raise complex professional issues for practitioners when working with clients from a wide range of backgrounds that can influence career choice; those from ethnic minority backgrounds, faith backgrounds, from areas of social deprivation or, indeed, areas of relative prosperity may all have career options defined to some extent by their background and upbringing. and the social in/justice levied on their community.  For careers practitioners a moral question of practice results; is the role of practitioners to be a disruptor in that space, an agent of challenge to a group identity that has been formed from influences either within or outside the group?

The issue of what can be considered a social justice issue and the difficulties of framing are addressed by Rice in Career Guidance for Social Justice

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and Nancy Fraser who

argues that many social justice movements in the 1960s and 1970s argued for recognition on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, and that the focus on correcting misrecognition eclipsed the importance of challenging the persistent problems of maldistribution. In other words, Fraser asserts that too much of a focus on identity politics diverts attention from the deleterious effects of neoliberal capitalism and the growing wealth inequality that characterizes many societies.

which could be considered a warning to CEIAG practitioners who answered “yes” to the questions above.

Films which tell stories from diverse spaces and with diverse characters are to be welcomed. For reasons of representation and richness, we should all want stories with and about communities and characters beyond the mainstream but those stories which focus on career goals can cause ripples beyond the positive of greater inclusion by establishing inspirational role models who create deviant archetypes that those outside of those communities believe to be more desirable or more frequent than reality. Treating clients as individuals and utlising frameworks such as the recognitive perspective is part of a CEIAG practitioners skillset but more vital to enacting social justice is enabling CEIAG practice to flourish in communities and groups who struggle to access CEIAG support and the social capital it can bring.

Where are Careers Hubs starting from and ending with?

I think it’s safe to say that the Gatsby Benchmarks have been a game changer in the CEIAG world. Not because they offer new ways of working with young people or reinvent the purpose of CEIAG but because they included practice with a solid research backing and standarised what a comprehensive careers programme in schools and colleges looks like. This standarisation has enabled other stakeholders and professional to quickly understand a common rationale and purpose behind such a programme and so buy in to the shared goals.

The benchmarks have been supercharged in some areas of the country with the support of local CEC supported Careers Hubs. With the second wave of 20 Hubs to come online in September 2019, the CEC has been keen to show evidence of pacy progress towards meeting both technical goals around Benchmarks but also highlight that this work is happening in disadvantaged areas of the country. 

Schools and colleges in this first wave of Careers Hubs are already outperforming the national average across all aspects of careers education. After two terms, schools and colleges which are part of the first wave of Hubs are:

  • outperforming the national average on every single one of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of good careers guidance
  • the majority (58%) are providing every student with regular encounters with employers
  • the majority (52%) are providing every student with workplace experiences such as work experience, shadowing or workplace visits

Most striking is that improvements are strongest in disadvantage areas including in Careers Hubs located in Tees Valley, Lancashire, the Black Country and Liverpool City Region.

There are a two issues which should provoke some discussion about the work of Hubs.

Starting from a higher base point

The CEC Prospectus for the Careers Hubs bidding process was clear on the criteria areas had to meet to put forward successful bids.

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It would logically follow then that Compass data for those schools and Colleges involved in Hubs should be, on average, at a lower point than School and Colleges not in Hubs at the start of the scheme. Sure, other factors such as destinations and achievement feed into the definition of Cold Spot areas but CEIAG and employer engagement provision is a central metric. There may also be some individual exceptions of providers offering high Gatsby compliant provision within those Cold Spot areas of course but, taken in the round, if the self reported Compass data is a consistent picture of practice and provision then it makes sense for the initial Hub Compass data to be below the national average. Yet this wasn’t the case. Using the July 2018 data (the left hand blue bars) from the CEC tweet below

and comparing it to the nationwide State of the Nation figures from 2018

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we can see that the Hubs were reporting a higher percentage of schools and colleges meeting already every Benchmark than the national average (apart from one – Benchmark 3) before the Hub scheme had even begun. The CEC is right to say in it’s press releases that by March 2019, Hub schools and colleges were

outperforming the national average on every single one of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks of good careers guidance

but what they don’t include is that this was the case for all but one of the Benchmarks before the Hubs had even started work.

This is concerning for the questions it raises on the reliability of the Hub awarding process, Compass as a self evaluation tool but should also prompt queries for the CEC over the pace of progress of those institutions involved in Hubs. Is it easier to roll the CEIAG snowball down the far slope once it’s already closer to the summit?

2. The more you know, the more you doubt

At the recent National Careers Leader Conference in Derby I was fortunate to attend some brilliant sessions including this from Dr Jill Hanson who is undertaking the Gatsby Pilot evaluation for ICEGs. I posted about the interim report back in March 2019 and it was great to hear about the positives the Pilot resulted in. After 2 years of the pilot young people at pilot schools and colleges were more likely to recall participating in CEIAG provision

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and the 2018 cohorts reported much higher scores on a career readiness index

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with clear correlation for higher readiness scores for those in providers who had fully achieved more Benchmarks.

A pause for concern though comes in responses from the same students who completed the career readiness index in both 2016 & 2018. These show significant drops in pupil confidence in career management and planning and information and help seeking skills but not work readiness skills.

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As Tom Staunton notes in Dr Hanson’s slides, there could be a number of overlapping explanations for this. In the room, the practitioners present concluded that this might be a case of young people being introduced to a wider variety of routes that had pushed them beyond their comfort zone and in doing so reduced confidence and certainty in the routes they had previously been aware of (if any). If suddenly the world seems larger, your place in it will seem smaller. This is a theme which has been described in previous CEC research “Moments of Choice” and it will be interesting to see if a) this trend in the data continues and b) what steps the providers involved should take to address the issue (if any). Potential remedying work through personal guidance offering more support to those students reporting a lower level of confidence in those areas or more “nudge” based interventions aimed at groups? Or nothing at all?

Going forward

Up-scaling a model such as the Gatsby Benchmarks comes with pitfalls to avoid, particularly the temptation for providers to over-rate their progress or look for tick box filling solutions that don’t translate into substantive outcomes for learners. As Sam Freedman notes here

about a different education policy proposal, compliance isn’t always the full recipe and the intangible’s that can help make a good school CEIAG program (parental relationships, drive of the practitioner, heck, even office placement in the school) are difficult to measure. The forthcoming Compass Plus has the potential to address some of those issues as it more closely ties provision to self-evaluation.

Regarding the negative effects on student confidence in their future planning skills, the results of the Careers Registration Learning Gain project in Higher Education are a useful longitudinal comparative. Using a similar method (asking students to complete a career readiness set of questions year on year), these show that more mature learners can move towards higher rated career ready states. By the final year of a degree an increase of 18.28% of students reported themselves to be in the Compete category (see NICEC Journal April 2019). Could it be that the less confident younger students Dr Hanson found are a perfectly natural, even desirable outcome of Gatsby compliant CEIAG provision and that confidence in career planning only comes with greater maturity? Should CEIAG practitioners in schools revel in the fact that their students are less confident about their route but more aware of the diversity of options? These are fascinating questions that we have the potential to find answers to as the Gatsby Benchmarks standarise provision across the country.

Primary CEIAG and the preparation for choice

At the beginning of March Damian Hinds reannounced £2m of funding for the CEC to research and invest in CEIAG in Primary schools. This sparked a comment piece by the Headteacher blogger Michael Tidd which argued against this initiative. It’s worth saying that Tidd’s concerns seem to fall into two categories: 1) resources are tight and the funding for this initiative is small so any impact will be slight and 2) Careers Education is not a priority at this stage of education. Leaving aside the zero sum game view on resourcing (just because Primary CEIAG receives some funds, it doesn’t automatically follow that other areas shouldn’t or can’t receive funds), it’s his view on CEIAG that this post will concentrate on.

Tidd asks,

what are we hoping that 10-year-olds will take from these new lessons? I think many primary children have no idea what they want to do when they grow up – and I think that’s okay. Primary education shouldn’t be about preparation for the world of work.

And then goes onto reason that

The world of careers is enormous, and there should be no hurry to make any decisions. It’s bad enough that we force young people to deliberately narrow their curriculum at 14; I certainly don’t want children to be ruling anything in or out any sooner

I understand that any media articles have tight word counts so complexity and subtlety can be lost but I’ll take Tidd at his word and offer the following in rebuttal. The first point is the fact that Primary schools report that they are already offering CEIAG provision to pupils

primary ceiag

through a range of activities. So this funding is not for squeezing new things into crammed timetables but for improving the efficacy of provision that is already happening.

Second, is the need to tackle this conceptual view of Primary (or any) CEIAG as only a mechanism of immediate choice as this is a damaging and false starting point of the aims and outcomes of good CEIAG provision. That isn’t to say that some CEIAG provision does enable and facilitate choices but that other provision lays the groundwork for this. This has long been advocated by the Education & Employers Taskforce charity who established their Inspiring the Future offshoot, Primary Futures to achieve just this

Here the framing of the provision is not choice limiting or insistent on choices being made but as provision as a method for expanding and broadening horizons. The CEC publication, “What works: Careers related learning in primary schools” draws together much of the nascent research in this field to evidence why this is the correct approach.

The evidence suggests that career related learning in primary schools has the potential to help broaden children’s horizons and aspirations, especially (though not exclusively) those most disadvantaged.

Some of the challenges that all CEIAG provision aims to overcome is laid out

Robust longitudinal studies have shown that having narrow occupational expectations and aspirations can, and do, go on to influence the academic effort children exert in certain lessons, the subjects they choose to study, and the jobs they end up pursuing.Research has also shown that the jobs children aspire to may be ones that their parents do, their parents’ friends do or that they see on the TV and/or social media.

The passages (page 2) which describe how young children base their career knowledge and aspirations on their close circle of influencers (social capital), conceive their view on their place and opportunities in society (cultural capital) and establish their belief in their ability to determine their own outcomes against other factors (identity capital) lucidly offer the rationale for careers provision at Primary school age. The argument that Primary CEIAG is not beneficial because young minds would subsequently preclude routes falls away as the very rationale for informed Primary CEIAG provision is for young minds to expand routes and options.

How these aims can be achieved is explained in detail in a recent LKMCO/Founders4Schools report “More than a job’s worth: Making careers education age-appropriate.” In its sections covering the rationale and design of CEIAG provision at secondary and Post-16 level, the report retreads much ground already covered through the CEC’s What Works series and the original Gatsby report. Where the report adds value to the ever-increasing library of CEIAG publications though is the clear direction for practitioners as to what sorts of provision could be offered to children of different ages.

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The inclusion of the 2-4 Pre-school age group caused enough of a stir to get media coverage which also tended towards Tidd’s take on the concepts being discussed.

Finally, it’s worth saying that I agree with concern around the narrowing of options (read; curriculum) at 14 as the benefits of continuing with more a broader curriculum for longer is well evidenced. Where I would disagree with Tidd is that I would propose that the methods and age appropriate delivery of CEIAG provision the LKMCO publication outlines might actually prove to have benefits for students once they reach the later stages of secondary schooling. At these Moments of Choice (to use the CEC terminology), when students currently struggle through a complex choice system without the skills and knowledge to navigate that choice architecture, the pay off from the horizon broadening and stereotype challenging Primary CEIAG work he disparages could be evident.

2019 NICEC Conference programme

Coming over the horizon is the 2019 NICEC Conference “Changing Boundaries; career identity and self” in April which is sure to be a CPD highlight of the year. You can read the summary of the event, click on the link to book your place and see the keynote speakers and workshop programmes below.

NICEC, the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling) invites you to its conference ‘Changing Boundaries; career identify and self: An international conference on research, practice and policy in career development’  which is to be held in Manchester on 16th-17th April 2019.

 

The attached programme reveals keynote speakers from the Australia (Mary McMahon), Denmark (Rie Thomsen) and the USA (John Amaechi and Michael Arthur) and a wide range of sessions from contributors from all over Europe. We will explore themes such as, career identity, innovation in practice, social justice, career research, and include presentations from Tristram Hooley, Jenny Bimrose, Peter Plant, Wendy Hirsh, Stephen McNair, Fiona Christie, Mark Yates, Rosie Alexander…. and many others you may have yet to meet.

 

Further details and booking information can be found at  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/changing-boundaries-career-identity-and-self-an-international-conference-on-research-practice-and-tickets-48343197806   For any queries, do please contact info@nicec.org

 

Please do feel free to pass on this email to your colleagues or Career Leaders in training; we very much welcome their participation.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Manchester

 

 

Please do take a look and see if you are able to join us for a couple of thought-provoking days.

The importance of trust

Working with young people (and their parents, but more on that later) as a Careers Adviser/Leader often means assisting them as they traverse points of transition. Be it across key stages, subject changes, institution changes or into a whole new sectors of the labour market, CEIAG practitioners are often the face of the possibilities on offer in the preparation phase of a transition. For the young person this often mean moving from a place of comfort where the rules and expectations (and short cuts) are known and familiar and into a space with new rules, new people and new codes of expected behaviour.

This is where “trust” becomes a vital factor. If the CEIAG practitioner is valued by the young person as a “trusted” source then the preparation work can aid the transition from the initial considerations, research through to choices and decision to overcome the worry of uncertainty. That is why this graphic

is so applicable to CEIAG work with young people and one that I’ve thought about following a few recent CEIAG news events.

A number of recent surveys clearly reported just how much influence parents/guardians have over the career and transition decisions of young people despite their lack of current knowledge of educational pathways and up to date labour market information.

For CEIAG practitioners working in schools, the message here is that the practitioner should be positioning themselves as a “trusted” source to both parents and young people.

That requires time and work in building relationships. At the recent Education Select Committee, Ian Mearns reiterated his belief that Careers Advisers from outside schools were best placed to ensure impartiality when offering IAG to young people as the incentives to keep learners within organisations are simply too strong. To back himself, he referred to recent Careers & Enterprise data that shows that seems to indicate that schools with Sixth Forms offer weaker Careers provision to their learners. What this model of IAG finds more challenging to achieve than in-house Advisers though is the time and presence required to build relationships and so the “trust” needed to actually impact young people and parents/guardians decision-making.

We all know the worth of the Gatsby benchmarks but one of the most significant indicators of the impact a school’s CEIAG programme is the amount of trust the parents and pupils have in their Careers Leader.