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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.

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.

NICEC 2019 Conference – Changing boundaries: career, identity & self

The 16th & 15th April 2019 at the Chancellors Hotel and Conference Centre (google map link) will see the 2019 NICEC Conference (titled “Changing boundaries: career, identity and self) take place.

https://www.scribd.com/document/389398754/NICEC-Conference-Flyer

The Conference is open for ticket bookings through Eventbrite here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/changing-boundaries-career-identity-and-self-an-international-conference-on-research-practice-and-tickets-48343197806

but is also open for workshop suggestions and leaders –

We invite contributions for workshops from a broad range of presenters conceptualising ‘changing boundaries’ in different ways to reflect the diversity in thinking and innovation in policy-making and practice.  Key questions that the conference aims to address include:

  • What influences career identity and the self?
  • Can disruption be fruitful?
  • What does the future look like?
  • What conceptualisations of career will be needed?
  • Where is the continuity and where is the change?

We welcome abstracts of up to 300 words for individual presentations (20 minutes) and up to 500 words for symposiums (one hour). Abstracts should be submitted to julia.yates.1@city.ac.uk by 31st October 2018.

I understand that CPD funding can be hard fought for and carefully allocated in these times but I would encourage you to consider dedicating some towards a conference which promises to be a thoughtful and considered look at the future of careers work.

NICEC

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The National Institute for Career Education & Counselling (NICEC) is a learning “Fellowship of people committed to understanding and developing career education and guidance practice and policy in the UK and across the globe” that has been in action since 1975.

I’ve been aware of the group and their work for many years through the NICEC Journal which I read with great interest when it landed in my pigeon-hole (back when you got a hard copy as part of a CDI membership) and have attended numerous workshops at events over the years led by a number of the Fellows.

The network is organised as group of invited Fellows and a membership of individuals interested in career theory and practice who then receive the Journal and are able to attend the networking and evening seminar events put on throughout the year.

An annual conference is also part of the offer with next year’s planned for April 16th 2019 with the theme of “Changing boundaries: career, identity, and self. An international conference on research, practice and policy in career development.

I post as I have been invited to join as a Fellow and feel extremely privileged to take up the offer.

Please do keep an eye out for future NICEC seminars that I will advertise and take a look at the Conference and, if you see something that interests you, sign up! I’ll see you there.

I’ll take Option 3 please David: The Future of Careers Work in Schools

It’s a generic sign post image!

This week, I was fortunate to attend a NICEC seminar on the Future of Careers work in schools and listen to some very thoughtful and knowledgeable contributions on the recent history and immediate future of CEIAG in schools.

The discussion about future changes was structured around David Andrews’ discussion paper, “The future of Careers work in schools in England: what are the options?”

http://www.thecdi.net/write/The_future_of_careers_work_in_schools_in_England__March_2013.pdf

It’s rare that a policy facing document a) actually knows how recent changes in guidance are playing out on the ground and b) is able to offer realistic suggestions for future evolution so it’s very much worth a read. And, as you might have spotted from the title above, one of the suggested paths forward makes most sense to me.

Option 3 – School-based career development advisers – “all schools would be required to employ their own careers advisers who would be responsible for providing face to face careers guidance to pupils and could work with teaching staff to plan and deliver programs of careers education.”

Reasons why I think this is a good structure:

“Top down” guidance that has the best chance of impact and success is policy that embraces and enables drivers of change that can happen from the bottom up and I think there are a couple of these drivers already in place in schools now to enable a structure for Careers work to flourish.

  1. Headteachers have never had more freedom to shape their school to how they see fit. They have the flexibility to change their provision on offer to the local community from the curriculum, to their staffing structures to the length of the school day. These freedoms spark a desire to find what works for their community, students and parents and put it in place. The Careers community needs to shout that good Careers work should be part of that offer. Stephen Twigg has said that he wishes to spread some Academy freedoms to all schools so this driver of change is here to stay.
  2. Heads have also never been so aware of the need for their school to have a good reputation, both nationally and in the community, and are using marketing and PR to take control of the message to form that reputation. The current legislators believe in choice as a driver for improvement in the school system and the natural offshoot of competition is reputation management and the need to promote positive stories associated with a school. Good Careers work in practice (employer visits, tasters to FE & HE, Enterprise activity days etc ) produces these positive messages and the data from sustained good Careers work produces positive outcomes. Again, we need to make this case to leaders in schools.
  3. Following on from that point, the publication of destination data on the performance table website is another lever to pull. To what extent schools will incorporate these statistics into their PR messages (or to what extent parents will pay attention to it) remains to be seen as the headline 5 A*-C % is still the all-powerful measure but it’s data that’s out there and can be utilised.

Other reasons it would work:

  1. It makes sense from the young people’s point of view – I’ve already posted about the benefits of having a dedicated Careers person as part of the school community that is known to the students and accessible to them here: https://fecareersiag.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-nfer-discussion-panel-on-pre-neets-misses-a-trick/  I haven’t seen the publication of the research talked about there; if it’s come out and I’ve missed it, please let me know!
  2. A Careers practitioner as part of the school staff also has a much better chance of folding careers work into subject curriculum’s through building relationships with subject leaders and fostering a reputation for offering quality stuff
  3. The cat is already out of the bag – any rigid, top down approach would struggle to accommodate the variety of solutions to the statutory duty already in place as some schools have already reacted to it. The Ofsted survey should help clarify the extent and diversity of these solutions but any national structure such as mooted in Option 2 would have to adapt so much to place its-self in local contexts that it would end up not being a national structure.

What it would take to ensure this would actually be a good structure:

  1. Monitoring & Ofsted – as David says, “the risk to impartiality is a big issue” with this option. Ofsted is going to be looking at Careers as part of inspections from September 2013 but how rigorous in regards to impartiality this will be remains to be seen. Ofsted and Local Authorities would have a key role to play here that cannot be underplayed.
  2. Training & forums for best practice sharing – National bodies such as the CDI and the NCS could take the lead here in offering inexpensive and comprehensive training for the school based Careers practitioner and maintaining the register of suitably qualified practitioners.
  3. LMI & links to employers – again the CDI and NCS, as well as local networks, could enable bridges across that divide building on the desire of schools to market themselves to the community and to prove the competency of their Careers programs to Ofsted

I’m acutely aware that I’m a Careers practitioner in school arguing the case for Careers practitioners in schools but I hope I’ve stepped outside of the bubble of self-interest in this post and presented a realistic scenario. Having experienced the recent lack of interest and investment in Careers work in schools from the Dfe (“this is isn’t delegation, it’s abdication!” copyright Tony Watts) it also seems to me that the evolution of the service I’ve outlined also has the best chance, with continued advocacy, of actually evolving in reality.