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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 good 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 individuals to help them reach decisions about the future. An important aspect of IAG is Careers Education & Guidance (CEG), something all schools must now deliver.
IAG includes activities that assist individuals become better equipped and more self-reliant to manage future development. IAG includes provision of accurate, up to date information about lifestyle issues, personal issues, career opportunities, training courses, progression and where to find and access help. IAG also helps individuals to gather, comprehend and interpret Local Market Information and to use it to aid their own situation. Finally it helps people understand themselves better, along with their needs, any barriers, how best to resolve conflicts and make progress whilst developing new perspectives.
The aim of Careers Guidance is to identify the learners' potential whilst unearthing skills, attributes and abilities they didn't realise they had. CEG also gives the individual the opportunity to talk through options with their advisor leaving only the most realistic opportunities available in order to assist decision making.
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). Methods to help bridge the gap between education and training and then into employment over the years have taken many different forms,. e.g. - guiding, mentoring and counselling.
The location of guidance has also altered. Many organisations such as schools, training providers, colleges, youth centres, Connexions services etc have all offered "impartial" IAG, whilst also emphasising the importance of matching someone to the local labour market.
In 2003, OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) undertook an Education Policy Analysis, and published a document entitled "Careers Guidance: New Ways Forward". Chapter 2 of this document states that "Historically, psychology is the discipline that has under-pinned careers guidance theories. In particular differential psychology and developmental psychology have had an important inï¬‚uence (Super, 1957; Kuder, 1977; Killeen, 1996; Holland, 1997). One-to-one interviews and psychological testing were for many years seen as its central tools. There are many countries where psychology remains the major entry point into the profession even today".
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 personally been on have been based predominantly on developing my listening and communication skills in one-to-one interviews rather than telling the individual what to do. My older colleagues have informed me that previously, psychological testing, psychometric testing and counselling training was the norm, but now this emphasis seems to have changed as the individual themselves is given more responsibility, and expected to "help themselves" .
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 1.0.
IAG is sporadic and there are still 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 is Go Train able to market IAG to individuals.
Advances in technology allow us to widen access to services. The National Careers Service (NCS) provides both information and career advice to telephone and internet users. NCS staffs have relevant qualiï¬cations and can call upon an online database on over 500,000 courses. The website ensures that individuals can receive IAG 365 days per year.
Why is CEG important at this time?
During this time of economic uncertainty, the need for careers guidance is of paramount importance. "Global youth unemployment will continue rising over the next five years",Â according to a reportÂ from the International Labour Organisation. "The effects of the euro crisis will spill over from developed to emerging economies", the ILO says, increasing youth unemployment to 13% by 2017.
The ILO also 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 ILO says.
The idea of increasing careers education in secondary schools and training providers 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.
What are the legal, moral and professional responsibilities of Go Train and how well are they understood?
For nearly 40 years, responsibility for offering CEG to young people at school was given to external organisations, namely careers services and Connexions. Pre September 2012, the approach to Careers Education in schools was haphazard and was likely to be delivered by a teacher with no training in CEG, and was likely to be "pro school" and focussed on achieving in-house progression targets.
This lack of impartiality has therefore led to Go Train offering an unfunded NCS session to young people as a bolt-on to existing foundation learning services, as well as to the funded over 19 year old. As an adviser, I have worked on both "NextStep" and "NCS" contracts, always ensuring 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" and also during my research on a Level 3 accredited IAG qualification.
As a professional, I understand the legal, moral and professional responsibilities of Go Train when it comes to giving impartial advice and guidance to individuals, but I'm concerned that my ideals and views may not be shared fully throughout the organisation and other employees may not understand their responsibilities as advisors and the requirements to assist learners reach outcomes from the ACEG framework.
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 2.0. 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.
My role as an advisor
Through delivery of NCS, working within the ACEG framework, IAG qualifications and use of client management systems (CMS), I am able to facilitate delivery of a seamless experience between face-to-face, web and telephone IAG services. All NCS advisers are able to access learner information, track a learners journey, record outcomes and progression, and allow the learner to register for a Life Long Learning Account at any centre. This ensures a seamless advice and guidance journey for the individual regardless of location or adviser.
CMS also allows regional information to be passed to prime providers and Government offices and for reports to be generated, evaluated and acted upon by Go Train Management and staff as required. Learner feedback and evaluation ensures the emergence of best practice sharing between Go Train, regional NCS centres, and stakeholders at strategic and operational levels. All advisers now use CRM to enable the delivery of a truly integrated service; therefore good quality training is a must. Everyone who has access to CRM is subject to a satisfactory enhanced CRB disclosure and a baseline (personnel security) standard check within three months of commencing work.
Go Train advisers are aware of the sensitivity of data and are aware of those around them who could view the information on the screen. Advisers refrain from writing down personal information, will not save sensitive information onto PC's or use removable media. I understand that a learner must feel confident about providing and receiving information across all three NCS channels, and in turn, I ensure that the learner understands that data is shared across all channels and that Go Train policies comply with Data Protection legislation and SFA requirements.
During the past few months, we have widened our offer to work with young people, to give a truly impartial face-to-face service that has been neglected in schools. A change in statutory guidance in April 2012 means that from September 2012 this was no longer required, as responsibility for securing impartial guidance is passed directly to the school. This new regulation is part of the Education Act 2011, which amends part 7 of the Education Act 1997.
Education Act 2011
This new piece of statutory guidance is intended for schools, but also has a major impact on Go Train. From September 2012, 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 (such as Go Train) or from other providers as they see fit. Therefore Go Train will look to broaden delivery locations asap.
As of September 2012, guidance has to be provided for pupils aged 13-16 and 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.
The Department for Education (DfE) also encourages schools to provide wider career activities, like engaging with local employers and work-based training providers such as Go Train. For pupils with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, the school's IAG has to "include information on the full range of specialist provision that is available" - again Go Train should benefit from this.
The DfE carried out a further consultation to see if IAG should be extended down to year 8 and up to age 18 which closed on 1 August 2012. The DfE plans to review the guidance by March 2013.
What does Go Train need to include as part of careers guidance and IAG?
In order to align itself with the DfE, Go Train will provide wider career activities, like engagement with local employers and other work-based education and training providers. It will recognise where learners would be best to continue their studies at a further education college, training provider or other establishment and for adults and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, IAG will "include information on the full range of specialist provision that is available".
NCS currently markets itself as:
"We can 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."
The Education Act 2011 means in the future, Go Train must be prepared to deliver an impartial careers guidance service to schools and young people (through separate funding streams) 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 good quality careers service as part of training, both to secure outcome funding and to give the individual a personal service. However, there are only a handful of individuals who have the background, knowledge and skills to provide a truly impartial and good quality service for Go Train that is in line with the ACEG framework.
The NCS is only a small contract for Go Train and it is the only contract that requires advisers to be qualified to Level 4 in IAG. Employees working on this contract undertake research, training, sharing of best practice to ensure best service, however these individuals equate to only 5 out of 125 employees. The other 120 staff members are being asked to embed careers advice with little or no 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, and are offering a good quality and impartial service to everyone - regardless of contract, age or funding stream.
Who decides how CEG is delivered and how is provision coordinated?
Currently CEG in Go Train is delivered by untrained supervisors at branch level on an as-needed basis, or by trained and knowledgeable advisers through the more coordinated NCS contract. This contract is delivered, administered and managed identically by all subcontractors in the region, to ensure a uniform service. Therefore Babcock (the prime contractor) issues a sub-contractor guide and operations manual to all providers. This guide can be found in Appendix 3.0 and includes details of how Go Train has to manage and administer the service.
In conjunction with these requirements, Go Train is updating in-house training and development plans to ensure that staff have career development training in the future. This package can be found in Appendix 4.0, and only when this programme is fully embedded, do I feel that Go Train can offer a "truly" impartial careers service.
Go Train are in a good position to support students to achieve their potential through the NCS service, but it's important that we look at standardised delivery in all venues and contracts to ensure our customers are getting an equally positive experience throughout the organisation. Go Train have invested time, money and resources in NCS advisers and now need similar investment in all other staff members.