Introduction To The National Careers Service Education Essay

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For this assignment I delivered 6x1.5hr workshops with six unemployed adults. Sessions took place over 3 days first day for IAG and assessment, and days 2/3 for workshops. All sessions took place in the Go Train centre, in the heart of Maidstone, allowing easy access for learners travelling by foot, public transport and/or car. Invitations were sent out to current and past learners, with all new learners being asked if they would like to participate on the programme when signing up with Go Train during February 2013.

From a shortlist of 20 participants, I chose 6 individuals that covered a wide range of abilities, needs and desires. This meant a diverse group, ranging from entry level, aged just 19, to older individuals who were long term unemployed. Workshops also included a learner with higher level skills who had been made redundant (Appendix 1.0 shows a learner breakdown).

I ensured workshops catered for varying abilities and learning styles by thoroughly assessing learners on signup.

Assessing learner needs

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There are many theories that address the importance of assessing and facilitating learners. Appendix 2.0 shows the different types of information that needed to be considered during initial assessment. Because of time restraints, I decided to use the following tools/procedures:

My first method is a face-to-face National Careers Service session. An example of paperwork can be seen in Appendix 3.0 By completing this with the learner, I am able to establish age, background, educational and qualification levels, along with aspirations and needs. I also ascertain special needs due to disability or health issue. An example could be the provision of paper based materials in a larger font or different colour for a visually impaired learner, or the use of a scribe for someone who finds writing difficult.

Initial Assessment is then completed. This assesses abilities in literacy and numeracy and defines learners against a level from the core curricula. I use the learndirect tool, as it is adaptive and questions are generated according to performance. The results are then used to identify areas requiring further learning and allow me to see the levels at which I need to engage the learner at. (Examples can be seen in Appendix 4.0)

The Life and Work Skills IA

This is a tool that helps me understand strengths and weaknesses in relation to personal development, and finding and retaining work. It assesses the learners confidence, skills and barriers to work. It contains four separate assessments - Finding a job, applying for a job, staying in a job and skills, motivations and interests. An example can be found in Appendix 5.0

Learning Styles - Theories around learning styles have been around for decades. In the 1980's and 90's, the principles and ideas of David Kolb were developed further by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (Honey, P. & Mumford, A. (1982) Manual of Learning Styles) , who identified four distinct learning styles: Activist, Reflector, Pragmatist and Theorist. These styles describe how a learner likes to learn.

Honey and Mumford developed an 80 item questionnaire that is now used by Go Train. With this, I am able to identify "how a learner learns best". See Appendix 6.0

My reasons for selecting each method of initial assessment and diagnostic can be seen in Appendix 7.0. Once these have been completed I am then able to understand how to tailor the lessons for the individual and how to be fully inclusive, using a host of different means of assessment and facilitation (Appendix 7.1). Some of the many different theories behind my choices can be seen in Appendix 7.2 with more information re the importance of facilitation in 7.3.

If I feel a learner wouldn't benefit from workshops at this time, I will signpost elsewhere.

Workshop 1 - Introduction to the National Careers Service

I chose this subject matter because I felt that the National Careers Service was a vital tool for individuals and one that needs to be advertised to as many eligible learners as possible. People are aware of NCS, but do not have information regarding the three strands (website, face to face and telephone) or the tools and applications that are available to them. I created a lesson plan that included this and catered for all types of individuals using different learning styles.

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The lesson was facilitated through the use of online activities, a PowerPoint presentation and various exercises using a whiteboard.

Although there was no representative from the NCS at this time, I am a qualified advisor and was able to use literature and marketing materials to promote the service to all, thus ensuring partnership working. An overview of the session, and what I felt went well and what could be improved upon can be found in Appendix 8.0.

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 8.1)

Observation (Appendix 8.2)

Feedback (Appendix 8.3)

Workshop 2 - Lifelong Learning Accounts, Skills Health Check and LMI (with JCP Advisor)

As I was going to be working with this group of leaners for three days, it was vitally important that I knew as much as I could about each person's backgrounds, wants and requirements. So far I had gained results of IAG, initial assessment, work skills check and learning styles, but I also needed a better understanding of goals, motivations, transferrable skills etc, as this would allow me to link subsequent lessons to individual requirements. It was therefore important that for workshop 2, I looked in greater depth at this information by embedding an online skills health check.

I also used this workshop to introduce Go Train's first partner, a JCP Advisor. This individual was able to give an accurate account of LMI and link this in with the individual skills check results for each learner, ensuring relevant, sector specific information was given to each learner. An overview of the session can be found in Appendix 9.0.

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 9.1)

Observation (Appendix 9.2)

Feedback (Appendix 9.3)

Workshop 3 - CV and Cover Letters

A very important aspect of employability is creating a good quality CV and cover letter, and this was therefore the topic of discussion in workshop 3.

I was aware through assessment and facilitation of previous sessions that some learners required more assistance with their writing and we would benefit from a scribe in the group. The use of an apprentice was therefore embedded. The session was split into learning and doing, with examples of good and poor quality CV's, video feedback from HR advisors and examples of layouts and contents of CV's found on the internet. The "doing" was then carried out using a CV builder tool from the NCS Website, which enabled the CV to be tailored to the individual. An overview of this session can be found in Appendix 10.0

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 10.1)

Observation (Appendix 10.2)

Feedback (Appendix 10.3)

Workshop 4 - Application Forms

This workshop contained a lot of differentiated learning. Learner abilities ranged from learners needing assistance with simple form filling, to those that wrote in-depth reports and could complete complex applications with ease. Use of a scribe was again a must during this session.

To ensure relevance, application forms were selected for each learner, linking in with their own health check results. Humour was then added through "what not to write!" sections. The session was a mixture of online work and paper-based forms, and an overview is in Appendix 11.0.

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 11.1)

Observation (Appendix 11.2)

Feedback (Appendix 11.3)

Workshop 5 - Interview Techniques (Manager to interview candidates)

The penultimate workshop was split into study, role play and reflection and included partnership working with Managers from own and other organisations. The workshop was facilitated through online learning materials, quizzes and formal role play.

Study materials on interview questions, body language, what to wear and what to say ensured learners were prepared for the role play, and when asked were able to cope well with the 1:1 interview that had been tailored for them by Managers.

Time for reflection at the end of the workshop meant this was a great success. An overview of this session can be found in Appendix 12.0.

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 12.1)

Observation (Appendix 12.2)

Feedback (Appendix 12.3)

Workshop 6 - Progression Routes and Partners

As a climax, it was important that I talked about "what next?" and included as many progression routes and partners as I could. I invited a number of colleagues including college representatives, apprenticeship providers, local employers and training organisations to discuss their own services in greater depth. This meant facilitation was through observation and professional discussion.

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These discussions gave learners a true understanding of progression routes and showed that pathways could contain any number of routes. Feedback from this lesson was extremely positive and all individuals confirmed they had a better understanding of "what next" than they did before. An overview of this session can be found in Appendix 13.0

Please see:

Lesson Plan (Appendix 13.1)

Observation (Appendix 13.2)

Feedback (Appendix 13.3)

Benefits and Understanding of Partnership Working

Partnerships are formed by organisations and individuals who have a shared interest and are able to work together to fulfil a range of objectives. I've found that a successful partnership benefits the learner by opening more doors; it allows me to provide a more comprehensive service, increases and broadens the range of training opportunities and encourages the learner to progress.

The benefits and risks I've found of working in a partnership have been highlighted in Appendix 14. However I feel the pros outweigh the cons and by embedding partner's services in my workshops, I was able to manage a more efficient, wider range of services, make use of better resources, utilise my team better, and draw upon the skills and knowledge of others to work with my learners. By utilising Managers to carry out interview role plays, apprentices to assist learners, JCP advisors to talk about LMI and staff from other organisations to discuss progression routes, I was able to utilise my own time better, safe in the knowledge that learners were benefitting from expert knowledge.

During my time with Go Train, I have learnt that it is important to ensure partnerships are built on firm foundations, and that there is an air of trust, honesty and openness between parties. I also make sure that there is regular and accurate communication between partners and that data and information is shared when appropriate. By talking to all my partners before the workshops I was able to pre agree goals and aims whilst ensuring each individual was aware of their own remit and role, and how this linked in with overall workshop goals.

I am good at my role, but could not class myself as an expert in every subject. By ensuring I work with trusted partners, I can signpost learners to the most appropriate organisation, safe in the knowledge that we will work together for the benefit of the learner and that the learner won't suddenly disappear to another training provider. Some of Go Train's many partners can be seen in Appendix 15.

Conclusion - what went well and what could be improved

The workshops were well thought out and well received by the learners. A lot of thought went into the preparation and planning stages which ensured I was able to cater for all types of learning styles and levels. I also ensured differentiated learning was present for those that needed either additional assistance or those that needed additional work to remain focussed.

By the inclusion of partners in the workshops I was able to ensure information was imparted to the group by the most qualified and knowledgeable individuals. This also freed me up to facilitate the lessons and ensure relevant assessment of learning was conducted throughout.

Feedback on workshops was positive, but I felt I squeezed a lot of information in to a 1hr30min session. I would like to have been given additional assistance to give 1:1 support when required, and would also like to have created more easy-read documents, audio and video tools to cater for learners with disabilities and/or learning difficulties.

I will be sending out another feedback form to participants in 3 months' time (tracking). I hope then to receive both an update on individuals' progress, plus a more honest opinion on my workshops now content has been fully digested.

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