We spoke to Janet Colledge, Chief Education Consultant at Outstanding Careers and also Education Director of National Careers Week, for her expert advice on how to make sure students continue to receive one-to-one careers guidance while schools are closed.
Why are one-to-one guidance and interviews so important for students’ careers education?
Children are subjected to information from lots of sources—reliable and unreliable—but they don’t often have the ability to sift that information and prioritise it in their decision-making process. Qualified careers professionals are trained to post-graduate level with skills to enable them to support and enable the decision-making process.
In addition, many of the sources of information are biased in some way. Parents who would like their children to fulfil their own unfulfilled dreams, teachers wanting to fill their GCSE and A level classes and organisations trying to recruit young people into their talent pipeline. Qualified careers professionals are duty bound to be unbiased and to offer advice in the best interest of the young person, as required by the statutory guidance for careers education.
Finally, the majority of well-meaning advice is often based on the adviser's own experience which may well be out-of-date, whereas careers professionals spend a lot of time keeping up-to-date. It’s a requirement of their professional registration to undertake at least 25 hours CPD per year.
Lots of schools are concerned about safeguarding with one-to-one guidance. What is your advice on conducting one-to-one guidance safely?
This depends on the venue. Face-to-face in schools, the guidance professional will have been subject to safeguarding procedures. Choosing a Career Development Institute registered professional from the CDI Register will ensure that the practitioner is fully qualified and has signed up to the CDI Code of Ethics. The register can be found here.
This translates across to online guidance. However, you should ensure that the platform you use complies with your organisation’s Data Protection needs. Safeguarding details of the main video conferencing platforms can be found here and TeacherToolkit have put together some good guidelines.
Do you think this period of remote learning offers any unique opportunities for careers guidance?
It offers a unique opportunity to involve parents in the process. This is an important aspect of careers education that is often still to be addressed by many schools. Research by Warwick University shows the value of parents' involvement, and Spain is working on adapting the Gatsby Benchmarks to include parental involvement. I’m currently working on some parent/child worksheets to facilitate career planning and conversations which will be on the NCW website.
Do you have any advice for students whose work experience plans have fallen through?
Get out there and arrange your own in the holidays if you can. Your school’s Careers Leader should be able to support you and help ensure your own safety.
What is your advice for teachers having conversations with students about their career plans?
While teachers shouldn’t be conducting careers guidance interviews, they can offer advice and have career conversations with students, whilst recognising that they are not equipped with the tools to offer the level of support that a careers professional would.
My advice would be:
- Always end the conversation by suggesting a discussion with the school careers professional or a call to the National Careers Service.
- Get to know your pupils – ask about their aspirations and dreams.
- Conversations should be light and not a “You’ll end up working in McDonalds if you don’t pull your socks up” talk. ALL jobs are useful to society and shouldn’t be seen as a punishment.
- Don’t be afraid to say "I don’t know."
- Develop a list of trusted go-to resources (your school Careers Leader and/or Adviser will be able to help with this).