With the advent of the Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance in 2018, and the Careers and Enterprise Company in 2015, then the importance of careers provision to young people was re-stated. The new OFSTED inspection framework (September 2019) makes career guidance provision a much more explicit part of the inspection process. In addition, a new role of Careers Leader was identified, and schools and colleges in England are expected to appoint such a leader, with responsibility for leading, managing and co-ordinating careers provision, as well as networking with internal and external stakeholders. The Careers Studies Unit (CSU) in the Centre has been running a PGA for careers leaders since January 2019, with c.190 leaders taking part in the programme. This experience has given us extensive insights into the nature, scope and development of the changes noted above.
Some of this experience was distilled into a journal article, published by John Gough in the National Institute of Career Education and Counselling (NICEC) journal in October, 2019. Here, he reflected on some of the insights into the impact of the Gatsby Benchmarks on provision in schools and colleges, as well as the experiences of some career leaders in grappling with their new role.
At the time of writing, we are coming to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on our society, and indeed, the whole world. It may seem a little irrelevant to consider the implications of the lockdown on career guidance provision in schools and colleges. At the same, the CSU as part of its commitment to its learners, has taken advantage of various software packages to offer training and development to career leaders. The latter includes offering training days delivered through Skype for Business and Moodle. We’ve found that the leaders on the programme have been willing to ‘keep going’ with their development, and to engage with the modified learning approach.
One aspect that has emerged from our recent work with the leaders is that, in common with so much else, they are working day to day and week to week, with their plans being subject to future political decisions regarding the lockdown. In addition, schools and colleges are unsure of their resource position, like so much else in society. What is also striking is that the careers leaders we have worked with remain committed to helping learners, particularly those who are nearing, or at, transition points, such as enacting their GCSE and other course choices; or moving to college or university. In addition, they are concerned with supporting those who are at risk of failing to secure further education, training or employment. This is despite some projects, like work experience placements, employer and education provider visits and the like, being cancelled.
One further hopeful aspect is that the CEC aims to continue to provide training and development for existing and new career leaders for 20/21. We hope that the economic and political picture means that we can continue to develop and support those who take up this crucial role.