career choice

The nudge, nudge future of CEIAG

One of the most substantial and thought-provoking pieces of work on Careers published in the last year was the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) commissioned report “Moments of Choice” which I looked at here.

The report was written by the Behavioural Insights Team and it gave the CEC plenty of conclusions on which to plan their own future work

We will highlight key messages, alerting schools and colleges to the types of conversations that young people should be having and when they should be having them; the types of information they should consider in those conversations; the mistakes that young people typically make and, perhaps most importantly of all, the things that they do not need to worry about.

on how young people wanted to consume Careers IAG

moments of choice1

and how the CEC would go about trying to achieve that

moments of choice2

In the past weeks two projects have come to light which show the way that this future Careers IAG apparatus might work in practice.

First was another Insights Team piece of research which used a three year randomised controlled trial to find that sending letters of encouragement to high achieving young people in Year 12, “penned” by students from similar backgrounds, increased the number of applications and acceptances to Russell Group universities. This kind of cost-effective intervention (printing and posting some mail merge letters are a lot cheaper than Careers Advisers) can be highly targeted using not only GCSE attainment data but also parental income data now available.

This type of intervention is small-scale when compared to Careers choice help for all young people outlined by the CEC above but we can see how such interventions could be scalable yet still retain an element of personalisation to the message so desired by the young people themselves as well as using technology to more be responsive to users needs.

An example of how this type of personalised messaging system could be used to aid Careers decisions can found in another Behaviour Insights Team project called Promptable.

Aimed at FE students, Promptable uses text messages to text students and nominated “Study Supporters” weekly with reminders and prompt discussions about revision and tutor feedback in the build up to exams. The Team found that students who took part in the Promptable trials boosted their College attendance and exam performance.

Imagine a similar system designed for secondary school age young people and nominated “Supporters” discussing Careers choices at appropriate landmarks. Schools or Colleges ask students to sign up to the site, the school has uploaded their own timeline for PHSE or Careers lessons, for Key Stage 4 choices, for specific visits, talks or careers fairs, for Key Stage 5 choices, for Higher Education plans, links to CEIAG online resources etc etc and then the site sends prompting texts to students and “Supporters” to discuss these milestones or enable Supporters to remind students to attend events. As with Promptable, you could even have the student complete a short questionnaire on sign up outlining areas of interest which they can tailor by sending code texts back (“to out of messages about events please text EVENTS STOP back to this number”) which would also notify the Supporter so a discussion could be had (“actually I think it would be good if you did go to that Apprenticeship Information Evening”).

This kind of interaction fulfills all of the requirements of an easily accessible, horizon broadening intervention method that also encourages personalised face to face discussions. CEIAG event notification and student tracking systems are already on the market through products such as Grofar but this system has the added impetus (or nudge) method of the Supporter, known to the student and offering  chance for discussion. Some in the CEIAG community would ask where in this system does the CEIAG professional fit in? As the local architect of the educational establishment’s profile on the main website, the organiser of the provision, the record keeper of attendance and the option of face to face guidance as another method of provision to be offered to the student body but most of all, as the face of encouraging student sign up to the system would be my proposal.

Large scale systems face a balance between creating systems that work for the majority yet be flexible enough to impact the individual. The communication method of results of systems like Promptable and the targeted use of household data to tailor messages to young people such as the “Encouraging people into University” report could show the way on how this is feasible in CEIAG.

The best Year 9 Options advice video I’ve seen

Isn’t even a video designed to show Year 9 students or their parents in the UK.

 

 

Narrated by Tony Botelho at the Career Services Unit at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia Canada, I think it brilliantly sums up the issues I have with the way a lot of parents and students believe they must frame their decisions when choosing Key Stage 4 options.

No matter how your school organises Key Stage 4 routes, students and parents will always want to make connections between the courses on offer and future employment destinations. They, as Tony says, want to define the “Preferred Career” to give their child a target which, in today’s complicated labour market is understandable. It must be comforting to hear that X leads to Y which will then make you definitely qualified to do Z and even more calming to be able to pass that information onto your son or daughter. Don’t stress, the route is clear.

Deep down though, we know this is a simplified version of the reality facing the majority of young people. We know through our own experiences and those of our peers that happenstance, networks and experience can hold much greater influence over a Career than a route map. At ages 13/14 most learners will have no clear idea of what their “target” is and even those who do, will their perception of their “target” match the reality of that profession (Hello CSI, you and me still need to have words). Many will still be 8 to 10 years of changeable teenage and young adult life away from taking those first, full-time steps into the work of work.

Shouldn’t we be braver when advising those youngsters and their parents by admitting the future ahead may be more complex? Shouldn’t we say it’s OK not to know your “target” or even to stop believing that you must have one? It’s OK to still be discovering, trying new experiences and then taking the time to reflect on those experiences. It’s OK to think about the courses you might take in terms of the experiences and opportunities they might offer whilst studying them rather than what the qualification outcome might lead to.

I think so and it’s a video I will try to use at parents information events in the future.