Welcome to Space4Careers

Welcome to Space4Careers, the blog of the Centre for Career & Personal Development at Canterbury Christ Church University. This blog does what it says on the tin, it provides an opportunity for anyone who is interested in all aspects of careers work to find a little bit of space in their busy lives to think about current issues and trends. If you like or dislike, agree or disagree with what you see, please respond and let us have your views. We'd love to hear from you.

Please note, the content of this blog represents the views of the individual blogger, not those of

Canterbury Christ Church University.

View the website for the Centre for Career and Personal Development

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Reflections on the Jiva Conference in Bangalore - October 2010

In the conference material Gideon Arulmani states “The Jiva conference celebrates the poet, the romantic, the storyteller, the psychologist, teacher, economist and psychometrician, along with the sociologist and historian, all of whose qualities, make up an effective career counsellor”. So multidisciplinary then! The conference provided an extraordinary opportunity to learn from each other about what influences our attitudes toward ‘career’ – in a truly international setting. Established career theory, policy and practice in the ‘West’ has paid scant attention to perspectives on career in socio-cultural and historical environments elsewhere in the world. The papers, presentations and workshops at the Jiva conference were stimulating, challenging and enriched our views on how to support individuals in the career choices they make. Ok, but how?

We began by recognising that it was a ‘hand made’ conference. Hand made as a term retained its true meaning in India, but in the West it might mean something else. In the UK for example we have lost most of our crafts and our manufacturing base, but the importance of traditional craft and craft skills for India and the region was highlighted through many aspects at the conference. Perhaps our term would be ‘hand crafted’ – suggesting careful choice of materials, used by a skilled craftsperson to produce a work of quality, one that is sustainable – possibly unique – something you will keep and treasure. The Jiva conference was, without doubt, hand crafted.

Each delegate would have taken away their own key words and thoughts from the conference – craft may be one, culture, context, diversity, story, narrative, traditions, taking time, listening, grace – were all words on my list. Perhaps the overarching word for me is ‘spirituality’. In ‘busy’ practice there is little time to slow down and pay attention to spirituality – it was central to the Jiva conference. This would not be surprising to those brought up in such a culture, but to most of us from the West, we seldom pay attention to the ways our ‘culture’ influences our outlook and work with clients. In order to see something different we need to change this position and stand somewhere else to look. The Jiva conference provided us all with that opportunity.

Have a look at the photos by clicking on the title above.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

CPT – International IAG Developments

I, with colleagues, am involved in a Leonardo da Vinci Transfer of Innovation project which is now nearing completion. The project brief was ‘Developing an effective tool for career path of secondary school students to prevent unemployment and misemployment.’ The Career Path Test (CPT) brings together Holland’s RIASEC matching model and Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Styles Approach in an online questionnaire. The report is almost instantaneous. There are also curriculum materials to support the inventory, which we have developed as workbooks.

Find out more at the CPT website: www.cpteu.com

CPT is designed to enable young people to start the career planning process and it is especially relevant in countries where IAG in schools is not readily available. Partner countries are Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and the UK. In piloting CPT, we initially thought that our role in the UK would be more of a ‘benchmarking’ exercise as schools do have IAG programmes and there are already established inventories available.

We are beginning to reconsider this position. Positive feedback, particularly around the learning styles aspect of the inventory, suggests that CPT may have more to offer in the UK than we anticipated. Alongside this, the current economic climate and the possible cuts to Connexions services mean that in some areas the Universal provision will be offered online. CPT may provide a useful starting point for young people, and could support other provision.

We would like to hear from you about how you see a tool like CPT fitting in with your provision of IAG.

Alison Fielding

Thursday, 30 September 2010

A common enemy?

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who works in a youth work setting. I explained my own interest in working with parents and carers in careers education and guidance and how, in my experience, this was a really tricky area. The difficulties seem to stem from some key issues that my colleague also recognised.

First there is the client centred approach that we all subscribe to. However, even if a parent or carer is not present in the class room (a rare occurrence I’ll admit) or in a guidance interview (less rare but not as common as some years ago) their influence, beliefs, expectations and input are most definitely there in the voice and attitudes of the young person themselves. The young person may not be aware of this and may believe themselves to be acting independently, and so might we.

Secondly there are our own attitudes and perspectives as professionals to the parents and carers of our clients. I can recall my reactions when a parent accompanied a young person in a guidance interview; a range of feelings from dread and anxiousness to warm collaboration depending upon the parent and the young person. Some parents might take over the interview so that the young person can’t get a word in. Others were defensive, demanding and even aggressive. However many were there because of their genuine concerns about their child, and a need to understand more about their options and next steps.

I have heard teachers voice similar tales and it may be that other professionals who work with children and young people share their concerns. However there is one thing of which I am sure; avoidance of engaging with parents is not an option. Their influence is there whether we choose to engage with it or not and the sooner we acknowledge this the sooner we will begin to find ways in which parents can be included in the tapestry that is the guidance process.

If you have comments or thoughts on this please let us know.
Anne Chant

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The answer is ... 23

A few months ago we heard that applications to universities are up this year by 23%. We were told that the biggest proportion of the increase is in applications from mature students. I guess it could be that adults experiencing redundancy and unemployment are thinking "now's my chance to get that degree I've always wanted".

Around that time it was also revealed that 23% of students who start university courses drop out. This came as no surprise to me - as long as three years ago one of my sons used to tell stories of his fellow students dropping out of courses. These were often straight A students who had simply found themselevs on courses that did not turn out to be what they expected. Something that effective career guidance might have prevented. This is shocking when you think of how much a year at university costs these days, particularly if a student lives away from home. Probably approximately £10,000 (fees - £3500, accomodation - £3000, maintenance - £3000).

Neuroscience tells us that on average the human brain is usually fully developed by age 23, with cognitive skills of self evaluation being amongst the latest to develop. So ... if no-one went to university until they were 23, drop out rates could fall. Like that's going to work!
Barbara Bassot

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Role of Information, Advice and Guidance in Young People’s Education and Employment Choices

One of the key conclusions of this report is that CE/IAG (about either future studies or training/apprenticeships) from Connexions does not seem to have any measurable effect on young people’s opinions or on their eventual choices.

The authors of this report themselves admit that ‘the apparent lack of any effect of Connexions on either short-term attitudes or on actual long-term decisions is surprising and disappointing’ (p.78); but straightaway go on to say ‘the finding needs to be interpreted with some care’.

This is not the first report to fail to find the positive effects from CE/IAG interventions that they are looking for and to fall back on the argument that there is no evidence that it does any harm either!

Wherein lies the difficulty? The researchers do not help themselves by starting with such a skewed definition of what CE/IAG is for. They argue that ‘Good CE/IAG can be thought of as aiming to meet two objectives. The first aim is to increase the stock of highly qualified and highly skilled people in the British workforce. The second aim is to encourage disadvantaged young people to aim high’ (p.4). CE/IAG is for all young people and its overriding objective is to enable young people to fulfil their aspirations in learning and work for the well-being of themselves and for those where their attachments lie.

A further flaw in the premise of their research comes from the statement that ‘Young people can obtain CE/IAG from three main sources: from their family, from their school, or from the specialised Connexions service’ (p.4). The researchers were tied to these three items by the survey data that they were using which had been created for a purpose other than understanding the impact of CE/IAG provision. We all know that young people engage with many other sources of CE/IAG including the media, the internet, opportunity providers and friends. In fact, the ‘informal’ CE/IAG providers often have more impact than the formal providers. Organisers of CE/IAG provision are increasingly trying to harness and strengthen the effectiveness of these informal sources of help. In a typical school year, students may have 10-15 hours of careers education, one hour of contact with a Connexions personal adviser and over 1,100 hours of other lessons. Is it surprising that a quantitative-based evaluation fails to pick up significant effects from formal provision when the inputs themselves are inadequate?

The report concerns itself with two kinds of outcomes: effects on young people’s opinions (which we might call intermediate outcomes) and effects on their actual activities at 16 (which we might call practical or economic outcomes). There is no attempt to examine another important effect of CE/IAG namely the impact on personal attribute outcomes such as changes in young people’s self-efficacy beliefs, understanding of their own interests and their capacity to make life-enhancing decisions. The research does try to control for the effects of some other variables that affect practical or economic outcomes; but there is no discussion of the constraining effect of the wider ‘opportunity structure’ whether it is the limited curriculum offer in the school/consortium or the restricted availability of alternatives such as Apprenticeships and training courses. The report does find ‘that talking to either family members, or to school teachers, about future studies in the course of years 9 or 10 has some positive effects on attitudes to school, and the intention to stay in education and reduces pupils‟ probability of not knowing what they would do after year 11’ (p.7).

The authors do seek explanations to compensate for the shortcomings of the data available to them. One which careers teachers and Connexions advisers will be familiar with is the issue of attribution for the help received. Young people do not always remember where their ideas, information and support came from; and if they’re doing well, they’re more likely to say that they got there all by themselves!

For all its limitations, the report does point to some useful conclusions. The strong tendency for young people who had used one source of CE/IAG to have used the other two, suggests that parents/carers, schools and Connexions services need to work together more closely. The report also supports the notion that earlier CE/IAG interventions have more effect, at least on short-term outcomes, than later interventions.

This sobering analysis of the state of CE/IAG provision should be read by all; but it is not the longitudinal study that we need to help us really understand the role of CE/IAG in young people’s education and employment choices.

Anthony Barnes
Download the report at:

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Robert Frost

Sometimes the more you try to think, to be creative or to have ideas, the less it happens. Conversely I often have moments of revelation when I least expect it; often while driving on the M25. This morning such a moment occurred so I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with you.

It began because I was recalling a visit to the US many many years ago when a friend took me to visit the home of the late poet Robert Frost. I knew little of his work at the time but soon grew to love his most famous of poems, The Road Less Taken. This I found for the first time, written on a board at the point where a path through the woods near his home divided into two. In this work, you probably already recall, he reflects upon how he chose which route to take and how it metaphorically reflected the choices he had made in his life. He chose, as a poet, the road less taken – and that he says ‘made all the difference’.

Here is the whole poem for those who don’t know it or who, like me had forgotten all about it.

The Road Not Taken – by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference

Now it doesn’t take a genius to see the parallels between this and the choices that face young people and others, at key decision points in life and career. Career has often used the metaphor of a journey but what this poem says I think is a little more interesting.

First of all, at the end of the first verse Frost describes how our horizons are limited by where we are. The traveller cannot see what is around the corner, past the undergrowth, unless he walks down that road a little more. Here surely is comment on the importance of experiencing the working world so that horizons are expanded.

In the third verse he makes a choice and keeps one option ‘for another day’, although he acknowledges that ‘as way leads on to way’ he might not ever get around to trying it. Perhaps some years ago this was true for many young people. Way led on to way in one direction so that ‘doubling back’ was rarely an option. But is that still the case today? In a year where so many young people may not succeed in their application to university, does that mean that they will never have the chance again? Perhaps they will in fact take another option and return to Higher Education after having journeyed down this ‘road less travelled’ and benefitted from all the views and experiences that that might offer. Perhaps they will return to their fork in the road with a better understanding of the journeys on offer and perhaps that will make all the difference.
Anne Chant

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Building (successful) careers on the building site

We have the builders in at the moment – three of them.  Chatting to them about the effects of the recession on the construction industry, I learn that in their own personal worlds, everything is just hunky dory and each one is still inundated with work.  So how is it, I wondered, that these three are managing to do so well in an industry that is otherwise suffering?  What do they have in common that is making them successful at a difficult time for the industry?

First we have Mark.  He qualified as a carpenter 30 years ago but has experience in many areas of construction.  Over the years he has taken the initiative to qualify as a plumber, roofer and most recently as an electrician.  He said he hated the ‘college’ work but recognised that the more qualified he was the more work he could attract and many people liked the fact that they can call on one person for a whole range of work.  He takes a real pride in his wide range of skill and expertise and admits he lives for his work.

Secondly there is Jason, the brickie.  He is very different from Mark in that he has no interest in doing anything apart from being a brickie.  He gets satisfaction from getting every brick just right and likes to work in silence doing just that.  He says that bricklaying is his day job but his real life starts at 4pm after work.  In this ‘real life’ he is involved in a lot of charity events and in a range of fitness sports. It is these rather than his job that he lives for.

Finally there is Joe.  Joe is a brickie’s labourer. He is chatty and cheerful and very willing.  Joe cannot read and write well but he is a big guy who can lift a steel beam in one hand.  He spends some of his free time body building, for as he says, it is his strength that he has to offer so he makes sure his body is well looked after.

So what have they got in common that makes them all so successful despite their very obvious differences? Four things I think:

• Fantastic work ethic - they all turn up at 7am on the dot and they work solidly all day with a few short breaks.

• Flexibility - with Mark and Jason labouring alongside Joe if necessary.

• Networking - regular short calls to friends working in the industry, discussing jobs, time-scales and possible opportunities.

• Recognition of their personal selling points - and making the most of them.

They seem to have success sorted ........
Barbara Shottin

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A Bridge to a brighter future

At the end of June I was fortunate enough to travel to San Francisco to take part in the IAEVG Symposium in the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Embarcadero.  Before the event I was asked to choose which themed group I would like to participate in, and I chose “New International Constructs for the 21st Century”.  So, on Monday 28th June I took part in a discussion group, which involved sitting with a group of 15 people from all round the world discussing new and emerging theoretical approaches. A whole day discussing theory? What a treat!

The following day there was a round table event – again this was new to me.  The event took place in a large room with 29 round tables (literally). At each table, an individual presented their work related to one of the themes.  We were asked to make the sessions interactive and to encourage discussion.  Each session lasted for 30 minutes, at which point the convenor announced that it was time for participants to move to another table.  After another 30 minutes the groups changed again.  At my table (number 3) I presented what I now tend to refer to as “The Bridge Model”.  Having three opportunities to share my work was great.  I’m also glad to say that people came to my table (!) and the work was very well received.

If you would like to read more about the bridge model, please click on the title of this blog to open the link.

Needless to say, I didn’t go to San Francisco for a day and a half!  Afterwards we had a fantastic holiday - now I’m back and coping with jet lag – can’t really complain about that though, can I?!
Barbara Bassot

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Policy Update

The good news is that the launch of the careers service for adults has now been officially confirmed, and the contractors have been announced. The brand is to be – wait for it – Next Step! This will now apply to the whole service, including what was formerly Learndirect Advice and is currently the Careers Advice Service. The future of the ‘advancement’ aspects of the service, building on the recent prototypes, is less certain: it was due to be rolled out later, but may now be in question.
The key issue now is whether the service for adults is to be part of a new all-age service; and if so, how and when it will be integrated into Connexions/career IAG services for young people. Linked to this is concern about the immediate future of these latter services, in the light of the massive cuts in local-authority funding: already there are rumours of severe cuts in Connexions budgets in some areas. Also, the new Government’s policy to encourage ‘good’ schools to become academies could lead to fuerther erosion of local-authority services, and hence of the partnership model for CEIAG provision (though it is still unclear how many schools will apply for academy status).

The notion of an all-age service was in the Conservative Party manifesto, and the Liberal Democrats also indicated prior to the General Election that they supported it. So will these commitments be confirmed quickly enough to maintain a sufficient base on which to construct it?

Any feedback on how these forces are playing out at local level would be welcome.
Tony Watts

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Careers videos on websites

Until this week, I hadn't given much thought to what careers websites are trying to achieve that carry video case studies. There are a growing number including careersbox, icould, U-explore and pods4jobs. I suppose I had assumed that they were trying to provide careers information for young people that did not require a lot of reading. Young people for their part would choose to view case studies that matched their interests; while the goal of the producers of the videos would be to boast that they'd added another 20 titles this month! Then I met Andrew Manson of Talking Jobs. His stance is different. He has filmed a set of 40 case studies and written a number of career learning activities around them that can be completed in the classroom or by independent study out of it. Andrew is on a mission to raise awareness of the interdependence and connectedness of jobs in society, to use video stories to help young people clarify their own values and identities; and to enable young people to learn how to manage their careers (even from people who are doing jobs that they themselves might never want to do). It has made me realise that we all need to probe the rationale behind the sites we use and to discuss whether we think they will contribute to good career learning. Has anyone come across any other well-thought out websites with video case studies?
Anthony Barnes

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Happy Birthday CCPD!

Last week we celebrated the 10th anniversary of CCPD with tea, strawberries and cream.  In August 2000 the College of Guidance Studies (COGS) merged with Canterbury Christ Church University and moved from its premises in Swanley to the Salomons Centre.  COGS had offered qualifications in career guidance since their inception, so people gathered together to celebrate the continuation of the work begun there and the further development of this work in CCPD.

The VC gave a fitting speech, remembering the successful merger and thanking those who made it possible; in particular highlighting the work of Chris Bounds, who we were all pleased to see following his retirement, and Andrew Edwards who led CCPD during its first five years.  Professor Jenny Bimrose from the Institute of Employment Research at the University of Warwick then gave an excellent presentation on her work on three different research projects and afterwards there was time to mingle and catch up with some old friends.

At the event the VC also announced that from September Hazel’s title will be Reader in Career Guidance and Counselling in recognition of her work at CCPD, nationally and internationally. Well done Hazel!

Barbara Bassot

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Putting the PD back into CCPD!

In a climate when economic 'wellbeing' (or indeed 'recovery'!) is an understandable priority, I would like to reflect on a comment made by a colleague in a recent meeting.  In a discussion about what we intend to achieve at the Centre of Career and Personal Development, I was heartened to hear her proclaim that she would like to see more focus on the PD in CCPD.  We (as a society that is 'spoken to' by the media and political agenda), can sometimes buy into the potrayed hype of 'career', to be self sufficient and to change the dynamic of 'agent' and 'state'. These may indeed impact upon our personal development - in terms of a sense of achievement and perhaps even, success.

At this time we may be consumed with thoughts of 'recession', 'debt' and 'redundancy', so perhaps now more than ever, a little more attention to personal development is in order? Perhaps career decisions motivated by engagement with our personal aspirations will lead us to more fulfilling resolutions, perhaps encouraging people to discover, to explore and to respond to their 'calling' - as contested as this may be in some forums - is the path to real 'recovery'? Furthermore, in reflecting on the PD in CCPD, there is the opportunity to attend to the role of learning (in its many forms) as potential transitional spaces for growth and change, rather than as a means to an end. As an educator, personal development and the role of transitional space is the process that complements the content of the programmes I deliver and I for one, am happy to be reminded of its significance.
Jo Oliver

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A New Qualification for Youth Support

The activity of ‘career guidance’ involves much more than finding an answer to the question ‘what do I want to do when I grow up?!’ There are times in our lives when we need ‘guidance’ in order to take (or make) opportunities available to us. There is one time in particular, where so much change is taking place (physical, emotional, intellectual, behavioural) that life can sometimes feel confusing (at best) and chaotic (at worst), and where guidance in its broadest sense, is helpful. This time is, of course adolescence.

In recent years the UK Government has responded to the perceived need to offer support to young people through a number of initiatives. Anyone who has visited a school recently will have been struck by the plethora of individuals working in ‘supporting roles’ – learning mentors, personal advisers, teaching assistants, school counsellors, pastoral support workers, education welfare workers and others. Many of these roles are new (they certainly weren’t around in my day!) and it is important, therefore that those who are employed in ‘youth support’ in all its forms, have access to appropriate and rigorous training, leading to professional qualification.

In response to this new and emerging workforce, the CWDC has commissioned a consultation into the development of a Foundation degree for those who work in the ‘Integrated Youth Support Service.’ This qualification will be available to anyone who is employed in a youth support role in either the statutory or voluntary sector. It is hoped that the qualification will be available in 2011.

If you have any views about what such a programme should include, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to hear your thoughts....

Jane Westergaard

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Gender Stereotyping

It was in 2007 that I heard a conversation on Radio 4’s ‘woman’s hour’ with the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone . He was berating careers advisers in schools for ‘still assuming that girls would want to do “caring, teaching, nursing”.’ I rather dismissed this and did what I normally do – shout at the radio! However I was recently shown some destination figures for last year’s leavers which suggest that about 75% of girls still choose to begin their careers in the ‘5Cs’ – Caring, Catering, Cleaning, Cashiering and Clerical. Will the new statutory principle to challenge gender stereotypes do anything to change things? I’d like to think so, and I’m sure that introducing career learning into the primary years will help. However until we engage more with parents, anything we deliver to young people may be whistling in the wind. Should we be doing more to work with parents so that not only gender stereotyping can be challenged, but aspirations more generally are addressed? Part of the Parent Guarantee says that parents should have access to information advice and guidance so that they can support their children’s choices. Will this help or are these perceptions of what girls and boys can do too deeply engrained?
Anne Chant

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Is Careers Guidance Training ageist?

With the development of the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service comes the introduction of a new qualification for those working as career guidance practitioners with adults.  LLUK have worked hard to establish this Diploma as a minimum level 6, and it is likely that universities may run it at post graduate level 7 –the latter being the same level as the current Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG).  The difference is that the QCG consists of 120 credits, the new Adult Diploma will be 60 credits.  The QCG has traditionally been aimed at those wanting to work with young people although many graduates from the programme successfully pursue careers in the adult career guidance sector.

I have a few questions:

Do you feel there is such a difference between working as a careers professional with young people and working as a careers professional with adults that we really require two different qualifications?

Do you think we need a different knowledge base? Do we need different skills or do we use the same skills in different ways?

Why do you think it is that the adult qualification will be only half the size of the QCG?  Does working with adults really require less knowledge or fewer skills, hence a shorter programme of study?

I personally wonder if there are not as many differences between the work with different groups of adults (professionals, women returners, unemployed, ex prisoners etc) as there are differences between working with young people and adults?

What do you think?  I am currently working on developing the Adult Diploma and would really like to have your thoughts.
Barbara Shottin

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Reading in silence and wonder!

Recently I read an article by Finn Thorbjorn Hansen and Norman Amundson (2009) which was inspirational! It is called, Residing in silence and wonder: career counselling from the perspective of ‘being’. The authors recognise the difficulty when asking for a more spiritual and moral approach to career counselling. Drawing on what is referred to as ‘philosophical counselling’ (p. 32) they argue for ‘felt presence’, and not rushing to solutions that close down the opportunity for more meaningful engagement. As an example of a deeply reflexive approach to career counselling that is truly centred on the ‘client’, they write about ‘stillness, openness and undoing’ (p.34), as is evident in the following reflection on the counselling process:

A session filled with activity needs to be tempered with a willingness to just “be” in the situation. Certainly this involves periods of silence, but it is more than just sitting quietly. At the most fundamental level it means that I need to have a sense of patience, self-assurance and confidence that the activities will be helpful if I just stay with them. This process proceeds at its own pace (often slower than I would like) and it is important that I don’t try to force the situation (p.33).

Inspired to read more?  The reference is below.
Hazel Reid

Hansen, F.T. & Amundson, N. (2009) Residing in silence and wonder: career counselling from the perspective ‘being’. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, Vol 9, 1, 31-43.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Today's the day

Well, the campaigning is over and the polls are open. I don’t know about you, but deciding who to vote for this time around has been much more difficult for me.  Like lots of other people I watched the leaders’ debates on TV, so now I can name a Liberal Democrat! But by the time I watched the third debate no-one seemed to have anything new to say.

So what might the result of the election mean for career guidance?  Thirteen years ago who would have thought that the world of careers would fare so badly under New Labour?  Of course the Tories have promised an all age careers service as our friends and colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have.  But where will the money come from?  Particularly remembering that money for career guidance in England is no longer ring-fenced, but put into the coffers of local authorities.  The recent strategies (Quality Choice and Aspiration and Impartial Careers Education) seem positive, but what can we expect in the light of public sector cuts?  And the Lib Dems?  If you live in Doncaster Central, Glasgow North or Runnymede and Weybridge you could vote for some fellow career guidance professionals!

Barbara Bassot

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Making Plans for Nigel

I recently heard the XTC song 'Making Plans for Nigel' again after 30 years!

It made me think about how the process of making decisions about career choice is perceived by people other than careers professionals.  It's not clear from the song whether it's parents making plans, or other adults, but Nigel seems not to have much say in this.  They do recognise, though, that 'He must be happy in his work'.

As careers professionals we want young people to make their own, informed choices about their futures.  Parents and other adults have a part to play in supporting their young people, but I suspect that many see their role as very like that of Nigel's parents - making the best decisions for their children.  We need to empower young people to make their own choices - perhaps we need a new song for 2010: 'Nigel is Making Plans for Himself'!  Perhaps we also need to consider that Nigel may now be the parent of a young person, and may want his children to have a different experience.

Apart, of course, from the Careers Officer in 'Kes' what other media portrayals of 'careers' can you think of - and what messages do they send?

Alison Fielding