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Benefits of guidance

There is pressure to justify investment in guidance and to identify evidence-base for practice on the benefits of guidance. This section of the website aims to:

Examine the multiple benefits of guidance
Highlight research on the benefits of guidance

Economic Benefits of Guidance

The question of whether guidance brings economic benefit has been widely researched. The studies and reports in this section provide a comprehensive and detailed overview of the debate.

Studies on other benefits of guidance

Different studies on the benefits of guidance are included in this section.

Evaluating the effectiveness of Guidance

The Warwick Institute for Employment Research is currently undertaking a longitudinal study into the effectiveness of career guidance over a five year period. From here you can access the latest reports. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/research/eg/

An investigation into the benefits of Careers Guidance

This project, undertaken in 2001, examined the benefits of Careers Guidance for Open University students in receipt of financial awards. It stemmed from concerns that students in this group may need more than just financial support in order to be motivated to continue with their studies. The finding from the report suggest that the value of careers guidance provision, its relationship to achievement and retention across the whole student cohort is worth further investigation.

This project, undertaken in 2001, examined the benefits of Careers Guidance for Open University students in receipt of financial awards. It stemmed from concerns that students in this group may need more than just financial support in order to be motivated to continue with their studies. The finding from the report suggest that the value of careers guidance provision, its relationship to achievement and retention across the whole student cohort is worth further investigation.
Key findings after analysing comments from students were:

Many students wanted careers discussion in order to support course choice and to confirm that it would fit-in with career plans
Many participating in the project were motivated to continue their studies
Many wanted to confirm existing career ideas or wanted information
Some students had a poor awareness of career planning and how they could use previous skills and qualifications to support and inform future career plans
Some students were following inappropriate courses to achieve their career aims (and subsequently changed their course reservations)
Some students had unrealistic career aspirations (due to age, skills, study achievements) which indicated a lack of job market knowledge
The majority found the careers experience to be useful
The percentage of students registering for 2002 was greater from the cohort participating in the project (55%) than the client group being investigated in total (42%).

Students participating in the project and receiving careers guidance achieved greater success in their studies (pass rate of 72.5%), than the cohort in total (pass rate of 34%). Although this cannot be fully attributed to the provision of careers advice, it may indicate the motivating effect of one-to-one guidance.

Full Report: An investigation into the benefits of Careers Guidance

Jane Timms November 2001(2), Open University. An investigation into the benefits of Careers Guidance opportunities for Open University students in receipt of financial awards.
Abstract

Careers guidance opportunities offered to all Open University students within the West Midlands Region, in receipt of financial awards. Students opted to participate in a range of provision, particularly one-to-one guidance. The experience was valued by students and increased their awareness of the opportunities both within the Open University and externally, as well as their motivation to continue with their studies. Issues related to further promotion of careers guidance were raised. Provision of Careers Guidance Opportunities for students receiving Financial Support June - October 2001.

Background

Each year the Open University has a substantial number of students who are in receipt of financial awards. This is seen as offering positive support to students who are facing financial difficulties related to unemployment, low pay or disability and who wish to study with the OU. There is concern, however, about the number of students within this category, who do not continue with their studies. This project was one of a number of initiatives that the Open University sought to fund in order to investigate ways in which this group of students could be further supported enabling their experience with the OU to be worthwhile and encouraging them to continue with their studies. This investigation was undertaken in the West Midlands Region which (at the time of writing) had 658 students in receipt of financial awards.

Project aim

The aim of this project was to offer a careers guidance interaction to all new students in receipt of financial awards to ascertain whether this would enable them to have a clearer understanding of their study and career plans with the Open University. Additionally it was hoped that it would encourage them to continue with their studies. (It was agreed from the outset however, that if it was felt that study outside the Open University would be a more appropriate option, then this would be discussed with the student.)

Related aims

To consider issues related to retention/withdrawal To assess the careers guidance needs of students

Brief Project Outline

All new students who were currently studying and were in receipt of financial support were identified and initially contacted by letter during May 2001, to offer them the opportunity to discuss their career pathways. Provision was offered in a variety of formats with students having the opportunity to select the type of provision they would prefer. The options available were:
Face-to-face guidance interviews (at the Regional Centre or study centres)
Telephone discussions with Career Advisers
Career planning workshops at the Regional Centre
Specific career workshops at the Regional Centre
(At the initial contact stage, it was hoped to obtain an indication of students' references, so detailed information about the type of support being offered was not provided.)

Statistics were kept relating to the number of students participating in the provision, as well as their existing patterns of study and their preferred next steps. Additionally, their career ideas were recorded. The interactions with students were monitored and evaluated to ascertain whether students felt that the quality of provision was appropriate and also to gain an insight as to whether they found the experience to be of benefit. After analysing the responses from students and considering the staffing resources, the following provision was offered, spanning the period from June to October 2001.

The Careers Provision offered to students.

Dates - Activity:

16 June
Careers interviews Worcester
27 June
Careers interviews Regional Centre
30 June
Careers interviews Telford
14 July
Careers interviews Stoke
14 August
Careers interviews Regional Centre
22 August
Careers interviews Regional Centre
11 September
Careers interviews Regional Centre
19 September
Careers interviews Regional Centre
25 September
Career planning workshop
6 October
Careers interviews Regional Centre
6 October
Careers interviews Coventry
In addition: telephone interviews were offered by one Careers Adviser students opting to attend careers talks were invited to the existing planned provision (unfortunately the numbers attending these workshops were not monitored)

Methodology

Initially, the appropriate student group were sent letters to ascertain their interest in participating in the provision on offer (Appendix 1)

After consideration of time and staffing resources, students who had indicated an interest in the provision on offer were sent appropriate letters depending on the activity they wished to participate in. (see Appendices II a, b, c,)

Students booked into the provision by returning the appropriate letter or by telephoning the Regional Centre. All students, as far as possible, were asked to complete a Career Guidance Student Questionnaire (Appendix III), in order for the Adviser to have a clear picture of the student's background inside and outside of their study with the OU.

At the end of each one-to-one interaction, students received a Summary of Guidance (Appendix IV) with details of the discussion and any Action Points they were advised to carry forward.

Additionally, they were asked to complete a Careers Guidance Evaluation (Appendix V) in order to provide some feedback on the student's perception of the value gained from the interaction.
Staffing

The project was primarily conducted by an Adviser in the West Midlands Regional Centre with responsibility for Careers Guidance (and qualified with Diploma in Careers Guidance), with support from two Careers Guidance Advisers who currently work in the West Midlands Region.

Funding

The funding allocated to this project was £2784.71

Project Summary

658 students on all levels of OU courses were contacted by letter
100+ students responded, requesting some form of careers provision
67 students have had a careers interaction as detailed below.
20 students were invited to attend careers talks
Telephone interviews

52 were invited to complete a careers questionnaire after indicating that they would like a telephone interview. 36 participated in a careers discussion 18 who did not respond initially received follow-up letters 4 responded 2 were no longer interested, 2 were interviewed 4 students had withdrawn

Personal interviews

37 were invited to complete a careers questionnaire after indicating preference for a personal interview either at the Regional Centre or in a study centre. 28 were interviewed, 7 of these in the study centres 13 who had not responded had further follow-up letters 3 responded 3 indicated that they were no longer interested 3 students arranged and then cancelled interviews

Careers workshop

7 expressed an interest, with 5 agreeing to attend 3 students actually attended

Key findings

The following table gives an indication of the number of students participating in the investigation and their resulting plans for study with the Open University.

After analysing comments from students it was found:-

Many students wanted careers discussion in order to support course choice and to confirm that it would fit-in with career plans
Many participating in the project were motivated to continue their studies
Several were Special Needs students with various health difficulties
Many wanted to confirm existing career ideas or wanted information
Some students had a poor awareness of career planning and how they could use previous skills and qualifications to support and inform future career plans
Some students were following inappropriate courses to achieve their career aims (and subsequently changed their course reservations)
Some students had unrealistic career aspirations (due to age, skills, study achievements) which indicated a lack of job market knowledge
The majority found the careers experience to be useful
It was thought that it would be useful to undertake some further investigation to ascertain how many students participating in the project opted to continue with their studies, compared with this client group as a whole, and the following picture emerged:

It can be seen that the percentage of students registering for 2002 is greater from the cohort participating in the project (55%) than the client group being investigated in total (42%).

Additionally, it was found that students participating in the project and receiving careers guidance achieved greater success in their studies (pass rate of 72.5%), than the cohort in total (pass rate of 34%). Although this cannot be fully attributed to the provision of careers advice, it may indicate the motivating effect of one-to-one guidance.

Further issues worth highlighting

Most were level 1 students
Most opted for one-to-one discussions
Very few had previously had any careers information/ advice from the Open University or elsewhere, for careers aspirations
A few students were undertaking voluntary work to support their career ideas
A few students has not considered issues around credit transfer
Of the students responding but not wanting to participate in the project, the majority were just not interested (20), others just wanted information (4) whilst others indicated that they felt the following reasons would prevent them working: age, disability (6)
Main careers of interest to students

Health 4
Computing 5
Social Work 11
Counselling 4
Teaching 10
Psychology 3
Further student comments:

Gave me a clearer knowledge of OU routes and local opportunities
I would like more advice on progress through OU courses
First class service from knowledgeable and experienced person who delivered what I needed.
Very helpful and information sent out promptly Invaluable
Very thorough
Very helpful
Helped me focus
Informative, interesting, helped to steer me in the right direction
Workshop very helpful “nice and personal” small group
Will need further advice later on
Most enjoyable day- very relaxed Pathfinder very useful
Yearly interview needed to check and reschedule course of my degree
Continue to offer this support
Reflections

There were many issues that came to light as a result of this investigation but the key points relate to the fact that students who were offered the opportunity to discuss their studies and career plans with a qualified professional are motivated to continue with their studies and are provided with the guidance to take appropriate next steps. The question should be raised here as to whether this would be particular to this client group alone or whether the student body as a whole would similarly benefit? It would be fair to stress, however, that many students receiving financial awards may be in receipt of unemployment and related benefits and that the issue of finding appropriate work opportunities would be very significant. The value of careers guidance provision and its relationship to student achievement and retention across the whole student cohort may be worth further investigation.

Arising from this then, are issues related to raising students awareness of careers support available, through promotion of careers provision and additionally investigation as to whether the existing provision is the most appropriate.

In conducting the project it became evident that due to staffing issues, the time lapse between commencing the investigation and seeing it through to its final stages was too extensive, with some students having to wait a considerable time for appointments, which could have had an adverse affect on their future study decisions.

Recommendations

Careers advice and guidance continues to be offered to students in receipt of financial awards (within shorter time-span perhaps in May/June)

It is felt that as a result of this investigation and the recognisable advantages of providing careers support to students receiving financial support, that similar provision should be offered on an annual basis.

Consideration is given to providing similar support to students following Openings programmes.

It may be worth considering offering careers support to Openings students, as they make their decisions about future course choice with the Open University. This would encourage them to make appropriate decisions related to specific career ideas (if appropriate) and be aware of the implications of their course choices whether in the Open University or with external organisations.

Raise awareness of the careers provision in the Region.

It is felt that as the students participating in the project were so enthusiastic about the careers provision offered to them and prior to the project really had no clear idea of the Careers Service provision within the Open University, that the West Midlands region should further promote the careers support that they are able to offer.

Provide Associate Lecturers with information related to careers support available and work more closely with them to consider issues related to course choice /progression /career choice - through staff development

It may be helpful to raise the awareness of Associate Lecturers related to careers provision, in order to support them in their tutoring of students. Having a knowledge of the extent of the Careers Service, the information available and the support offered would enable them to refer students to the most appropriate source of advice and guidance.

Increase job market information available in the Open University Regional Centre As many students participating in the project felt that job market information would be very helpful and a useful resource when considering career options, it is felt that we should investigate ways in which we could enhance the existing job market information and make it more accessible and available to students.

LSDA study summary

Friends, teachers, tutors and parents are the preferred source of information and advice for most 16 – 19 year olds when deciding on their choice of university. The professionals young people turn to most readily are their personal or form tutors. This study provides a fascinating insight into where young people look for advice, which sources they value and just how misinformed many are.

Friends, teachers, tutors and parents are the preferred source of information and advice for most 16 – 19 year olds when deciding on their choice of university. The professionals young people turn to most readily are their personal or form tutors. This study provides a fascinating insight into where young people look for advice, which sources they value and just how misinformed many are.
The project was carried out by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Education Liaison Office and the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA). It investigated factors affecting decisions about higher education made by sixth form and FE students, looking at awareness of financial arrangements in higher education, interest in higher education, main sources of advice and guidance. Key findings include:

Advice from personal or form tutors was considered more significant than other professional sources such as careers advisers and the Connexions service.
Most youngsters about to leave school or college are confused by the barrage of news and initiatives on financial support and ignorant about the level of costs and fees they are likely to meet at universities.
About half of students expecting to be charged fees made unrealistic estimates of how much they would have to pay, with as many expecting to pay more as expecting to pay less.
Most students either underestimated the costs of accommodation and living or didn’t know what they might be.
Awareness of the student loan was reassuringly high, but the numbers expecting a grant of some sort were described as worrying.
Students rely heavily on published sources of information (to which they attach greater importance than any person) such as prospectuses, although they look at relatively few before making their choice of university. Web sites and university open days are also rated highly.
Many young people begin serious investigations about HE options relatively late. The majority want to enter higher education and are confident of getting a place.
Only 2 out of 216 responses to one of the questionnaires indicated parental opposition to entering higher education.
The majority of young people intend to study at a local higher education institution and live at home with parents.
The perceived relevance of higher education to career development is very high, with 94% rating it as important, although only half had any idea what that career might be.

Getting Them In


An investigation of factors affecting progression to higher education of 16-19 year olds in full-time education by Susan McGrath and Peter Millen is available from Susan McGrath at Manchester Metropolitan University, Education Liaison Department
A survey of more than 300 Manchester-based 16-19 year olds in full-time education at all local schools and colleges with a wide social mix - reveals that most are confused by the barrage of news and initiatives on financial support and ignorant about the level of costs and fees they are likely to meet at universities.

The research was a joint project between Manchester Metropolitan University Education Liaison Office and the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA). Its prime purpose was to investigate factors affecting decisions about higher education made by sixth form and further education college students. As well as investigating awareness about financial arrangements in higher education, young people were also questioned about their interest in higher education, plus their main sources of advice and guidance.

Main findings

Financial arrangements

Only 39% of Year 12 and 57% of Year 13 students knew both that they had to pay tuition fees and how much they would be. Even more alarmingly, only 9% of Year 12 and 30% of Year 13 students realised that top-up fees are due to come into effect only in 2006 and did not apply to them.

About half of students expecting to be charged fees made unrealistic estimates of how much they would have to pay, with as many expecting to pay more as expecting to pay less.

Most students either underestimated the costs of accommodation and living or didn’t know what they might be.

Awareness of the student loan is reassuringly high, but the numbers expecting a grant of some sort are worrying.

Advice and guidance

The people 16-19 year old students rely on most in choosing which universities to apply to are their friends, but teachers, tutors and parents also exert a strong influence. Advice from personal or form tutors is considered to be more significant than other professional sources such as careers advisers and the Connexions service.

Students also rely heavily on published sources of information (to which they attach greater importance than any person) such as prospectuses, although they look at relatively few before making their choice of university. Web sites and university open days are also rated highly.

Other findings

The research reveals very high levels of interest in higher education, although many young people begin serious investigations about HE options relatively late. The vast majority (88% of year 12 and 92% of year 13) would like to enter higher education and similar numbers are confident, although unrealistically in some cases, of getting a place.

More than 90% of students say they have "parental support". Only 2 out of 216 responses to one of the questionnaires indicated parental opposition to entering higher education.

The majority of young people intend to study at a local higher education institution and live at home with parents. However, this pattern may not be typical of other areas of the UK as there are more HEIs in the Greater Manchester area than any other UK city other than London.

The perceived relevance of higher education to career development is very high, with 94% rating it as important, although only half had any idea what that career might be.

Investigation of the reasons why some students do not take up offers of places at universities was carried out by Manchester Metropolitan University's student adviser team through telephone interviews. Although numbers were small (this was not part of the main research project) financial factors were the most frequently cited reason for withdrawing.

Susan McGrath, Head of Education Liaison at Manchester Metropolitan University and project co-leader comments on the findings: Ignorance about financial arrangements and the role of friends in advising about higher education were the two findings that most concerned us. The friends they rely on are those still at school or college, not those already in HE. We have found finance to be a major factor in decisions by students not to enter HE. So ready availability of clear, authoritative information is an urgent need.

McGrath points out that the current drive to increase participation rates in higher education makes sharing knowledge and good practice on progression particularly important. She says: Getting progression right is vital. If students don't get places on the right course, at the right university, they won't be likely to finish their courses successfully.

Judith Edwards, LSDA's Regional Director for the north-west and project co-leader adds: It is encouraging to see such enthusiasm for higher education, but worrying that so few young people really appreciate what it will cost or have any idea what kind of career they might be preparing for. The reliance on friends, parents and form tutors for information and advice is also significant, suggesting that the more accessible the source the greater its perceived importance. But the reliance on people who are not trained advice and guidance professionals is a concern. Perhaps we need to consider how to provide accurate information to those from whom they will, in fact, seek it.

IAG in the workplace: summary

Does IAG exist in the workplace? This report is based on the author’s experience of piloting Matrix Quality Standards with employers where she found that terminology got in the way. She describes her initial discussions as a translation of what they provided to their employees into what matrix advisers would term IAG.

Does IAG exist in the workplace? This report is based on the author’s experience of piloting Matrix Quality Standards with employers where she found that terminology got in the way. She describes her initial discussions as a translation of what they provided to their employees into what matrix advisers would term IAG.
Information, advice and guidance in the workplace

In the companies involved in the study there was commitment to IAG but little standardisation around delivery. The report highlights the need to redefine IAG in a way that is meaningful to all and which reflects the concept of individuals managing their own career.

The report also discusses Employer Training Pilots ETPs and work done by Union Learning Reps and examines what more needs to be done to encourage employers to recognise the benefits of IAG. Details of useful related publications are included.

IAG in the workforce original

IAG in the workplace

Siobhan Neary, The Guidance Council
IAG is often delivered as an ancillary service within an organisation whose core business is not guidance, for example careers education and guidance within a school, or a human resources function within a commercial sector organisation. In such a setting, what factors might support and/or hinder IAG work and its impact? For example, how is IAG viewed by others in the organisation not directly associated with its delivery and is there any evidence that such views influence the planning, delivery and impact of IAG services?

Over the last two years I have been trying to find out if IAG exists in the workplace and what it looks like. Most employers (we hope) provide some from of training and learning for staff – if only to familiarise them with new processes or machinery. Many employers will offer appraisal, not always seen as positive but, an opportunity hopefully to discuss training needs or career development. We can assume therefore that some information and advice may be provided to support individuals in accessing training and learning even if it is only on what is available on an internal basis.

The Guidance Council has for some years been working with employers on delivering quality IAG in the workplace. In the National Quality Standards for Learning and Work a set of standards (the D standards) were under trail with employers as were ‘Good practice guide lines for individual development in organisations’. These were superseded by the matrix quality standard for information, advice and guidance services. In 2002- 2003 I was involved in piloting the matrix quality standard with employers. This was a unique opportunity to work with companies and define what IAG really looked like for their employees.

The main difficulty we had to overcome with employers and this was the same for all, was that IAG is jargon, which only means something to those in the sector. Much of the initial discussions with companies concerned a translation of what they provided to their employees into what we ‘matrix advisers’ would term IAG.

What we found with all the companies and this included some small and medium sized enterprises, was that there was a great commitment to IAG. Although we have to bear in mind that these companies were pretty forward thinking anyway. But that information, advice and guidance was interpreted differently within each company dependent on the levels of support provided to staff. There was no standardisation as to whom it was delivered by, unless they had a learning centre/company university, in which case there was dedicated staff. For all the others a range of individuals could deliver it, both face to face and through electronic mediums.

A report subsequent to this published by the Guidance Council identifies what IAG was defined as within Large companies and SME’s.

Information Advice and Guidance Partnerships (IAGPs) have also to varying degrees been working with employers through a range of initiatives including the DfES Guidance Pilots, LSC funded Quality Development Funds (QDF) and most recently the Treasury funded Employer Training Pilots (ETPs). But how successful have these been? Again this varies. IAG is a core part of the ETP entitlement yet many IAGPs report they have very little take up. This may be for a number of reasons; limitation of options available to employees, lack of understanding of what IAG is by intermediaries such as the business support agencies, sufficient promotion of IAG by the projects themselves. These projects provide a major opportunity to embed IAG visibly within training and development, yet at the moment it appears more tokenistic then real, (my personal view).

On the other hand the TUC have made a huge impact in providing IAG in the workplace to support access to learning. In the TUC annual survey of Union Learning Reps, (ULRs) for 2003, they have found that 81.7% of ULR’s have provided information and advice on learning and work to members. This area is one of the most popular areas for ULR training with nearly 1/3 of respondents to the survey wanting to do more IAG training, over _ wanted to do the NVQ in advice and guidance.

So what about non unionised workplaces? Reports about training and SME’s tend to show that SMEs are not adverse on the whole to training and learning, but they are adverse to what they see as irrelevant qualifications. I am not aware of much research around IAG and SMEs but what I have seen is that SMEs are unhappy with the time and effort it takes to find out about learning opportunities and funding for learning. They welcome support, (but not necessarily the business support agencies), but want a joined up approach. * I have this report, I am trying to get agreement to make it available.

Learndirect are currently marketing a ‘Training Adviser’ service to employers to support them in identifying training needs and identifying appropriate courses.

So what we are exploring here is that IAG is available in the workplace, both formally and informally, delivered in a range of mediums by a range of providers. We know that some organisations are quality assuring their provision, specifically the TUC. What we need to be considering how we can encourage employers to;
recognise the benefits of IAG
to provide access to it
promote a partnership approach ( employer, state, individual) to individual career management
promote the benefits of impartiality
What we need to do is to redefine IAG into something that means something to everyone. We need to move away from IAG being something we DO to people and to move towards a model of individual ownership where people can manage their own ‘career’ what ever it may be. We do recognise that difficulties of the word ‘career’, but see it within the context of life generally and not just defined within the context of paid work.

The CIPD have recently released a research paper, Managing employee careers, issues, trends and prospects, 2003. This identifies that “line managers and HR staff also need to be trained to deliver career support to employees. Gaining the buy-in and commitment of senior management is vital to ensuring that career management is given the due attention, resources and importance it needs in order to be delivered effectively to employees”

So we are doing quite a lot from the bottom up to support access to IAG and career management/development – whatever we choose to call it. We now need to start from the top down.

The Guidance Council campaigning agenda call for careers education, information, advice and guidance to become an integral and distinct part of all learning and working.

Publications

Hirsh, Jackson and Kidd. (2000). Straight Talking: Effective Career Discussions at Work, CRAC

Useful publications in this area.

CIPD 2003
CIPD. (2003), Managing employee careers, issues, trends and prospects

Useful publications in this area.

CIPD 2003
CIPD. (2003), Reflections, Trends and issues in career management

Useful publications in this area.

LSC 2003
LSC. (2003), The role of Intermediary Agencies in promoting information, advice and guidance in the workplace - research report

Useful publications in this area.

Mackay & Neary 2003
Mackay and Neary. (2003), Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) in the Workplace: Report of desk research into the nature of employer support and variations between large, medium and small employers

Useful publications in this area.

Jones 2003
Jan Jones (JMJ Associates). (2002), Information, Advice and Guidance in Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: The Views, Attitudes and Perceptions of Some Owner/Managers” - Report of Pilot Research Project for Somerset Learning and Skills Council

Killeen and White 2000

Killeen, J. and White M. (2000) The Impact of Careers Guidance on Adult Employed People, DfEE, Research Report RR226: Sheffield.

The aim of the study was to provide a rigorous evaluation of the net impacts of guidance on adult employed people, with particular emphasis on economic outcomes.

Effectiveness of HE careers services

Report presenting findings from iresearch which nvestigated how some UK university careers services measure their effectiveness.

Report presenting findings from iresearch which nvestigated how some UK university careers services measure their effectiveness.
With funding support from HECSU's Putting Research Outcomes into Practice (PROP), Aminder K Nijjar (2009) has produced a report entitlted: 'Stop and measure the roses': How university careers services measure their effectiveness and success. This report investigates the ways in which some UK university careers services measure their effectiveness and success.

Other HECSU reports are available from: www.hecsu.ac.uk/hecsu.rd/research_reports.htm.

Guidance and Post 16 Retention

Drop-out rates among full time students at colleges are around 20%, and some college lecturers blame poor advice and guidance for this. Can good guidance make a difference to student retention rates? This question is explored here through discussion and reference to relevant resources.

Drop-out rates among full time students at colleges are around 20%, and some college lecturers blame poor advice and guidance for this. Can good guidance make a difference to student retention rates? This question is explored here through discussion and reference to relevant resources.
Questions are posed on the causes of student drop out and recent research is highlighted. It seems to indicate that the quality of pre-course guidance and of the teaching have some impact on student drop-out. However, other factors are also influential e.g. age, level of course studied and late enrolment.

Guidance and retention full text of stimulus material NOT AVAILABLE
To provoke discussion around the theme, participants in the earlier stages of this website development, responded to the stimulus material provided here.

Full text of the discussion NOT AVAILABLE

Guidance and Retention discussion summary

Student Services Guidance people keep sending us the wrong students, students who don’t really understand what the course is all about and students who are not particularly up to it; no wonder we get so many dropping out. It was different in the past when we could recruit our own students.

This lively discussion debates the role of careers guidance in relation to economic needs and benefits. The underlying question is around where priorities lie. Is there a conflict between meeting the needs of the individual and meeting the needs of the economy? If so which should take precedence?
Questions discussed include:

Should careers advisers resist becoming social engineers, concentrating instead on empowering clients?
Should LMI dominate the career decision process or simply be seen as another piece of relevant information?
Can we afford courses that have little market value?
What is the point of gaining qualifications and experience in an occupational route that is in decline or has few opportunities in your travel to work area?
Is there a need for career choice to be informed by the wider context of the needs of the economy?
Is a maths degree of any more vocational value than a media degree?
Why should an individual invest in occupationally specific training if the only incentive is to become part of a flexible work force on a temporary contract knowing that they can be dismissed as soon as their services are no longer needed?




Discussions: A business perspective of careers guidance

This lively discussion debates the role of careers guidance in relation to economic needs and benefits. The underlying question is around where priorities lie. Is there a conflict between meeting the needs of the individual and meeting the needs of the economy? If so which should take precedence?

A Business Perspective of Careers Guidance - Extracts From Discussion

We have to consider the bigger picture and look at the ability of the service to meet the needs of the economy, in effect measure the impact of the service by its ability to deliver the skills needed by business. Where do our priorities lie, with the client or somewhere else? Lets say the need for plumbers begins to dictate the process itself, then how many scientists and doctors do we lose and what new shortages do we create for the future. More importantly what lost potential is gone forever? What we cannot afford is the situation where many people are doing courses that have little market value - such as media studies. These options whilst they may be the preferred choice for the person they do little either for the individual in terms of their employability or in supplying the skills needed for continued economic growth and stability. We have a shortage of plumbers so it makes sense to encourage take-up of plumbing… but the scarcity of plumbers does not necessarily translate into training opportunities for plumbers. What do you tell the client in this case? We need plumbers but it's unlikely that you'll be able to train unless you have a relation or friend in the business who can provide a placement. A client who pursues a career of little interest to them but does so with the aim of satisfying economic needs is unlikely to derive job satisfaction and, in the longer term, is likely to look for a move. Retention is as important an issue as recruitment for most employers. The role of the guidance practitioner is not a kind of social engineering so that if 10 plumbers are required, we are deemed successful if we have directed 10 people into plumbing. The role of the guidance practitioner is to empower the client with the knowledge, understanding and skills to make appropriate career decisions throughout their working lives based on all relevant information. We cannot get away from the need for the choice to be exercised in the wider context of the needs of the economy. Failure to ensure that sufficient people go into the right careers will result in a mismatch between the skills needed and the skills available. This can only harm the economy. Although we advocate free informed choice, I am not sure there is such a thing in reality. It is the business perspective of the universities themselves that make these options available. There are loads of Media Studies courses because they attract lots of applications and universities make an income from them - or is this too cynical? Prospective students must be influenced by the availability of places and possibly and of course mistakenly, see it as an indicator of potential employment in the area. Just to stir things up, I'd also question how directly relevant many well-respected courses are. Taking mathematics, once you start looking at 60 dimensional spheres, chaos and string theory, how practically relevant is that? Yet there isn't a huge campaign to discredit those courses because it is acknowledged the problem solving and analytical skills (whatever) that are developed to high levels are of greater significance. So too we should defend media courses that necessitate team working, communication skills and a terrifying schedule of deadlines. It has been said 'in a time of drastic change, it is the learner who inherits the future, the learned are equipped to live in a world that no longer exists' (Eric Hoffer Reflections on the Human Condition). If this is true then it is the enthusiasm for learning that needs to be nurtured, not the acquisition of time bound skills that may be superseded as the technology of the age transforms the world of work and takes it in directions we haven't even dreamt of. Perhaps there is a role for the guidance professional as the honest broker with the long-term view and the ability to protect /defend options for the client, stopping in the worst case scenario the unfettered market outcomes.

Impact Analysis group's Discussion on the Business Perspective of Careers Guidance - Full Text
1) Theres No doubt that careers guidance...

2) How easy does a business...

3) Where do our priorities lie...

4) Clearly there are issues to be resolved...

5) As practitioner...

6) There is a need for better information

7) Individuals tend to make choices between the available options...

8) Where to start with this one

9) Sadly many of our courses...

10) The business case for me...