Increasing social mobility through individual development and opportunity awareness

By listening to the problem (or, put another way, the need) from the viewpoint of the individual it is possible to help them to see how best they should approach it and how to adapt to different challenges. For some there will be multiple issues at play and for others these may boil down to one or two obstacles only. One area highlighted above is the need for supportive information, advice, and guidance in managing one's career. Young people are citing the lack of access to such help and it is true that the area of careers learning, advice, and guidance is undergoing a major upheaval, particularly for young people in England and many of the support structures that existed previously are either reducing, fragmenting, or disappearing altogether. The severe reduction in funding for young people's support services since 2010 and the removal of services such as Connexions in many areas of England has had a profound impact on the way in which young people can access help. Nationally more than £200 million of funding for careers advice and guidance services to schools has been withdrawn and the availability of wider information, advice, and guidance services for young people outside
school has become fragmented and something of a postcode lottery. The decision to create a statutory duty for schools to provide access to impartial and independent careers services has not been matched with the resources for schools to ensure this is done adequately.

For many years the aim of careers advice and guidance services has been the ability to help young people understand themselves and what they have to offer when it comes to employment. Raising selfawareness as well as opportunity awareness is essential if individuals are expected to manage their careers in a dynamic and constantly changing job market. Career development support addresses the personal qualities and skills that people need to make decisions, become more mobile and gain sustainable work. This often includes:

• Developing self-awareness—what interests, aptitudes, and abilities an individual possesses

• Developing self-confidence—increasing an individual's self-esteem and how they can apply themselves to succeed

• Developing career decision-making skills—utilising relevant and up-to-date labour market information and assimilating this information to suit personal needs

• Developing motivation—creating a momentum for change

• Career goal setting—understanding routes into work and setting targets to achieve

• Career planning—breaking down “big” career goals into measurable and achievable steps, with clear timelines

• Taking action—following through on the career plan and adjusting steps to overcome barriers or changes to circumstances

• Reflecting on decisions and the actions taken to put these decisions or choices into practice—understanding the journey and being able to navigate unforeseen or unsuitable outcomes.

For unemployed young people the opportunity to access support from trained careers personnel can be instrumental in helping them on this journey. Having access to trained and knowledgeable professionals can help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and address these in ways which helps them make learning and work choices that best suit.

Evidence shows that young people in Britain spend much less time with adults during their teenage years than contemporaries in other
developed countries. Probably, as a result of this disengagement, British teenagers are more likely to to be influenced by their peers. This results in a lack of guidance and support for young people at what is a crucial time for character development.9 Nuffield/Rathbone10 found that many young people suffer from a lack of belonging and of failed relationships and need someone they can trust and rely on, to help them re-engage.

This support need extends beyond that of the help of a careers adviser as young people are making career plans. When in employment many young people benefit from a guiding hand from their employer, be this through a formal career development plan or appraisal function, where this exists, to the experience and support of an experienced and, often older, work colleague who can provide instruction and support. This“trustedadult” relationshipshouldnotcreateasituationwhere a young person becomes dependant on others, rather its unique benefit is in providing a role model from which to learn important behaviours and skills, in the case of workplace colleagues or supervisors.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >