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The Institute of Career Guidance states: Career guidance refers to services and activities intended to assist individuals of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers.
As an adviser, being able to offer a quality careers service is vitally important. Much of the income Go Train achieves is dependent on sourcing employment opportunities for individuals. We therefore try to embed CEIAG into every training opportunity, both for economic reasons and also as a means of assisting individuals to improve social, personal and career prospects.
As Go Train is only just commencing delivery of CEIAG it is important that employees understand the importance of the service, the responsibilities that go with it, and what makes a good quality session.
What is the aim of CEG, and why is it important?
Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) describes the support required by people to help them reach decisions about the future. IAG helps people into learning and work and also sustainable employment. A good IAG session can improve a person's decision-making, increase confidence and raise their aspirations. The UK commission stated in 2011 that "career guidance should aim to help people not simply to enter work, but to sustain employment and ultimately to move on to a better job" (UKCES, 2011).
This vision is shared by Go Train. We feel it's essential that all learners have quality IAG to help them find their way in the world, and allow them to make realistic and appropriate decisions that set them on the pathway to success. CEIAG also has a major role to play in breaking down barriers to success, especially in the current climate of the national recession.
Go Train is committed to ensuring all our clients (regardless of age, class, gender, etc) receive high quality, up to date and impartial face-to-face CEIAG. This commitment is evidenced by our policy (Appendix 1.0).
History of CEG
The concept of "careers guidance" is relatively new. As perception and availability of jobs and work roles change, so do the methods for helping individuals make work and/or vocational choices (Savickas, 2008). Ideas to help bridge the gap between education, training and employment over the years have taken many different forms with many different theoretical orientations leading to particular approaches in practice. Most of these theories however make use of face-to-face IAG sessions between advisor and individual, as does Go Train.
Appendix 2.0 shows four career guidance orientations from the past: person-environment fit, developmental, person-centred and goal directed theories. The table then shows how these theories link in with todays, newer methods of IAG given at Go Train Ltd, such as telephone, website, CD software etc.
Location of guidance has also altered. Historically IAG was only offered to school leavers in an educational environment, but now many organisations such as schools, training providers, colleges, youth centres, Connexions services etc all offer "impartial" IAG, whilst also emphasising the importance of matching someone to the local labour market.
In the UK, IAG today is given by advisors with wide ranging qualiï¬cations and training. Some are considered "experts" and some are not. Some advisers have had extensive training; others none.
All training courses that I have been on are based predominantly around developing my listening and communication skills in one-to-one interviews, and not about telling the individual what to do. This enables me to empower individuals to make decisions themselves. My older colleagues have informed me that previously, psychological testing, psychometric testing and counselling training was the norm, as the idea was to gain information and then guide (or in some cases "tell") the individual how to progress.
While face-to-face interviews are the dominant tool, the Go Train adviser has to include a wide range of other services: group discussions, printed and electronic information, LMI, group lessons, structured experience, telephone advice, on-line help etc this can be seen in the job description in Appendix 3.0.
IAG in the UK is sporadic and there are large gaps in services. Employed adults and younger children receive more limited services than students in secondary school and the unemployed. In many settings, IAG is integrated into other activities such as teaching or counselling. Where this is the case, advice and guidance has low visibility, is difï¬cult to measure, and can be hard to deï¬ne. Only through the National Careers Service (NCS) is Go Train able to market IAG to individuals.
Advances in technology allow us to widen access to services. The NCS provides both information and career advice to telephone and internet users. NCS employees have L4 qualiï¬cations and can call upon an online database of over 500,000 courses. Through NCS, the individual can receive advice 365 days per year.
Why is CEG important at this time?
During this time of economic uncertainty, the need for IAG is hugely important. Youth Unemployment Statistics from the House of Commons dated 13/12/12, states: "The unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds is 18.2%, while for 16-17 year olds the rate is 36.3%. The unemployment rate for 16-17year olds has increased steadily since the early 2000s".
The International Labour Organisation indicated that many young people had given up hope of finding a job. "Much of this decline in the jobless rate is not due to improvements in the labour market, but rather to large numbers of young people dropping out of the labour force altogether due to discouragement".
The idea of increasing careers education is good as it allows the individual to consider options and make well thought out decisions, increases enthusiasm and commitment to life- long learning, embraces self- improvement and progression, and gives the learner a feeling of self- worth, which in the long term manifests itself into a feeling of being able to make a contribution to society and the world of work - a vision shared by Go Train.
Education Act 2011
The recent Education Act of 2011 has inserted a new duty into Part 7 of the Education Act 1997, which means schools will no longer be required to provide careers education for students, but will be expected to source and provide impartial, independent face-to-face careers guidance. Schools may work on their own, in consortium or in a larger partnership to "bring in" or "source" the Careers guidance i.e. outside of school. Schools can commission careers guidance from providers engaged in delivering NCS (e.g. Go Train) or from other providers as they see fit.
The new duties are for 13-16 year olds, and states IAG must be presented in an impartial manner, keeping the individual pupil at the centre of the guidance. The delivery must include information on the full range of post-16 education, including apprenticeships, foundation learning and employment and must promote the best interest of the individual. This should rule out any bias towards any particular opportunity.
Although this is a step in the right direction, Professor Tony Watts writes "The Act offers no means for preventing a school from stating that it has discharged its responsibility by signposting to a website or helpline. All the school has to do is to state that it views such signposting, rather than providing face-to-face guidance, as 'the most suitable support for young people to make successful transitions'". A huge negative.
There are also other negatives. The Act states that face-to-face careers guidance will only be provided, when the school feels it is most appropriate, and that the guidance provided 'can' be from a qualified professional rather than stating it 'must' be provided by a qualified individual. This may therefore not guarantee good advice and guidance in the first instance and an external organisation may not be able to provide 100% impartial advice and guidance due to internal KPI's for learner enrolments onto their own programmes.
The ACEG Framework
The ACEG Framework offers guidance for careers and work-related education in England. Written in April 2012, at its heart is a set of learning outcomes for key stage 2, 3, 4 and post-16 education and training. The guidance includes advice on the organisation, leadership and management of careers guidance, and is set out as a matrix/tool to support curriculum auditing, planning and review. The matrix can be found in Appendix 4.0. Go Train advisors are taught the importance of working with the learner to fulfil ACEG outcomes and to motivate the learner to take control of their own career research and employability guidance. The framework is hugely important to Go Train and is embedded not only in careers guidance, but also as part of employability courses, progress and exit reviews carried out with all learners.
What are the legal, moral and professional responsibilities of Go Train and how well are they understood?
This new approach to IAG has led to Go Train offering unfunded NCS sessions to young people as a bolt-on to existing foundation learning, as well as to funded adults from all centres throughout London, the South East and East of England. Go Train is also now advertising availability of IAG from outreach locations such as community venues, employers and schools to cope with increased demand.
As an adviser, I always ensure that learners, regardless of age, class, religion, and gender are treated equally and fairly, and that services provided are uniform, current, relevant, high quality, impartial, and timely. I learnt this both "on-the-job" as an advisor and also during my research on a Level 3 accredited IAG qualification.
As a professional, I understand my legal, moral and professional responsibilities when it comes to imparting impartial guidance to individuals, but I'm concerned that my ideals and views may not be shared throughout Go Train. Employees at Go Train have demanding performance and enrolment targets that need to be met on a monthly basis and this could impact negatively on IAG impartiality as the needs for enrolments onto their own internal courses increase.
My role as an advisor
My career aspirations have changed over time. Appendix 5.0 shows various career theories and how I feel these relate to me now.
I have carried out IAG for over 4 years and feel it's both fulfilling and rewarding. Whilst employed as an advisor I have gained a PTLLS Teaching qualification, IAG qualification and have completed numerous courses to help with safeguarding, H&S, E&D, LMI, ICT etc. All of which allows me to share knowledge with my learners.
Through delivery of NCS, I facilitate delivery of a seamless experience for the individual, regardless of using face-to-face, web or telephone services. I work with the learner in any location and can aid learners (and get information about learners) who were previously engaged with other providers. I am experienced in using the Client Management System, which allows me to pass statistics to prime providers and Government offices and for reports to be generated, evaluated and acted upon by myself and other staff. I can also share best practice and experiences with other providers (great for CPD).
I am fully aware of the sensitivity of IAG data and refrain from writing down personal information or saving sensitive information onto PC's or removable media. I also ensure that the learner understands data is shared across all channels and that Go Train policies comply with Data Protection legislation and SFA requirements.
During the past few months, I have carried out professional development by liaising with Managers, undertaking safeguarding training and working with colleagues to enable me to have the skills to broaden my IAG offer to work with young people in schools and do more group IAG work. I hope that by completing this level 6 qualification, I will have more knowledge on theories behind IAG and how I can use these to aid an individual source employment and/or progression in today's economy. This in turn will benefits Go Train by increasing job outcome figures.
What does Go Train need to include as part of careers guidance and IAG?
In order to align with DfE, Go Train must provide wider career activities, like engagement with local employers and other work-based education and training providers. Managers must embed IAG training with all new recruits and ensure there is an IAG "champion" in every centre. This individual will have gained a Level 6 IAG qualification or above and will offer NCS to young people and adults.
NCS currently markets itself as:
"We offer advice on learning and work issues, help you explore which careers would suit you best, provide tips on searching for a job and help you to improve your interview skills. You can access our service online through this website and through our telephone helpline. Adults with the greatest need will have access to community-based face-to-face advice."
Go Train must also be prepared to deliver an impartial careers service to young people if requested.
To what extent does the whole of Go Train have a common understanding of the wider aims of the organisation?
As job outcomes become more of a priority, employees are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of embedding NCS in every centre. However, there are only a handful of individuals who have the background, knowledge and skills to provide a truly impartial and high quality service in centres that's in line with the ACEG framework.
The NCS is only a small contract for Go Train and is the only contract that requires advisers to be qualified to L4. Employees working on NCS undertake research, training, best practice sessions etc, however these individuals equate to only 5 out of 125 employees. Other staff members embed IAG with little training, no knowledge or background and little understanding of the service or the impartiality it requires.
I feel that in the coming months, trained IAG individuals must be working on all contracts throughout Go Train, in order to ensure a high quality service.
Who decides how CEG is delivered and how is provision coordinated?
Currently "normal" CEG in Go Train is delivered by untrained supervisors, or by trained staff through the more coordinated NCS contract. NCS is coordinated and managed at a regional level by Babcock, who issues a sub-contractor guide and operations manual to all providers (see Appendix 6.0). This gives details of how Go Train has to manage and administer services.
In conjunction with Babcock requirements, Go Train has developed an IAG training programme that is being rolled out to all staff. This package can be found in Appendix 7.0, and once embedded should ensure all staff offer a truly "impartial" and high quality service.
Go Train are in a good position to assist individual through the NCS service, but it's important that we now look at standardising delivery of IAG throughout the organisation.
Go Train have invested in my professional development during my time with them and this has increased my skills, knowledge and experience when working with learners. I now hope that there are similar investments for all other staff members.