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.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Who needs professionals?!

One of the features of the current coalition government has been to claim that they are handing power back to professionals; localism has become a regular byword for respecting professional expertise and knowledge, particularly in education. However this is in stark contrast to the direction of movement within the careers world. Despite the responsibility outlined in the Education Act 2011 that all schools must make impartial career guidance available to their students, response to this statutory requirement is patchy. This was outlined by the Ofsted report in April 2014 but despite efforts by Department of Education the BBC’s Katherine Sellgren  reported today that schools are using teaching assistants and even receptionists to offer careers advice to students.

We might expect parents and teachers and other adults in a young person’s life to offer ideas and experiences and even a little advice. Our experiences of career is something we all feel we have something to offer. Similarly we might comment on our beliefs about healthy living, diet, fashion or even holiday destination. But how many parents, when concerned about their child’s health would assume their own experience is enough, or feel it was acceptable that the doctor’s receptionist would be just as useful as seeing the doctor themselves? Why then does it appear that schools feel it is acceptable to put any reasonably competent adult with a bit of time on their hands to guide, advise or counsel young people on their future working lives? The answer may lie in the lack of understanding within Education of what careers work, career learning and career guidance and counselling is all about. Perhaps 50 years ago it was simply about deciding what a young person might like ‘to be’ when then grow up; a familiar question of young people by grandparents who aren’t sure what else to ask them. But the complexity of the labour market, the opportunities available and the pace of change is such that today more than ever young people need skills, knowledge and information from professionals who are specifically trained to provide it. It cannot be delivered in a half hour discussion with the head of year 11, let alone with the receptionist or librarian. Careers, more than ever before, must be integrated into the curriculum from the early years of secondary school at the latest and supported by fully qualified professionals to help young people make complex decisions and smooth transitions.

If we don’t get this right, all the grade A*s achieved could be as passports into an unknown wilderness. By all means support the achievement of the passport but, please also ensure that young people also get some decent maps, from someone who knows about the new landscape and the new roads to get there.

Anne Chant, Centre for Career & Personal Development
Canterbury Christ Church University