What makes a difference in Careers – The Research

One of the major hurdles to schools developing effective Careers, Education, Information, Advice and Guidance CEIAG has always been the lack of hard proof of its effectiveness. Also, one of the most common queries I’ve heard in my day job as a consultant, is :-

How do I prove my CEIAG offer is effective to SLT & Ofsted.

Thankfully, over the past year or two there has been a significant amount of research going on into the role of careers learning in schools and its efficacy.  This research should move us closer to being able to answer that question. There are a number of research papers quoted throughout the report which can be cited when negotiating with SLT for time, money and resources.

Careers Events - What WorksCareers Events – What Works – The Careers & Enterprise Company Research

Below you’ll find a very brief synopsis of the latest piece from a forthcoming series of CEIAG research pieces from the CEC.

What are Careers Events

The CEC defines careers events as talks, speed networking/carousel events and careers or job fairs and goes on to summarise a number or previous research papers and trots out the well worn quote of that there is evidence that pupils that recall participation in four or more careers events  :-

  • Are less likely to be NEET (Not in employment, education or training)
  • Display improved confidence
  • Have widened horizons
  • More likely to take up STEM related subjects

The research then goes on to highlight the lessons for practice

  • Tailor the event to suit the demographic of your cohort – age, socio-economic background, attainment level & gender
  • Consider the timing – events are most effective when timed to coincide with key decision making activities.
  • Authenticity – the employers you select/recruit to work with your pupils should have first hand knowledge of the area about which they are speaking
  • Relevance – This of course links back to tailoring the event to your demographic – I’ve long championed the importance of surveying your pupils to find out what kind of careers they are considering – this has the added bonus of alerting you to the pupils that have no idea.  Effecting such a survey helps you target the type of employers and events that you put on.
  • The importance of preparation & follow up.  Not just the pupils but also of the employers.  Is everyone on the same page with achievable objectives?

The report then goes on to compare and contrast the types of events and their relative uses.  Though I’d like to end with a direct quote from page 16 of the report which I’ve been highlighting for some time.

A number of educational professionals noted that whilst advice from people from the world of work was a crucial element in any careers provision, follow up advice from a careers professional helped to consolidate and make sense of the informaton provided.

So how do we measure the efficacy of our CEIAG programme?

The lack of data to prove the value of CEIAG provision  has long been a barrier to anyone trying to get support for developing a good CEIAG programme in schools, where there isn’t a SLT member who is already supportive.  The CEC report gives you research to back up your case but what do you do when you’re asked to provide cold, hard data to prove that you’re CEIAG offer is effective.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England have been doing some work on metrics for measuring  learning gain from careers learning. A recent blog cites

Ravensbourne’s Learning Gain pilot sought to create a taxonomy of activities that prepare students for work, and demonstrate the statistical validity of measuring the relationship between these activities and gaining employment.

however it goes on

In this blog, the college explains that – despite creating successful methods of measurement – they are no closer to a one-size-fits-all metric than before their exploration began.

So the message is, work out what you want the CEIAG programme to achieve and measure that.  Your school’s measurement of success should be individual.

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