Sunday, December 17

Careers Work: Help, Advice, Counselling, Guidance And Information

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I was a Careers Adviser for the Humberside service in England, UK, for 24 years. So, I have been mulling over whether to write an article about career choice and advice. After all, I might as well put all that experience to good use.

Using Google for careers advice, information and guidance

Today I Googled words like careers, counselling, connexions etc. Well, in the UK the Connexions Service (of which careers is a part) still exists and they have their own national website. There is a rider on it, though, that their views may not quite match those of our newish Coalition government. However, they still run their Jobs 4 U database, which is based on a good model built by COIC and associates from about the 1970s. Connexions is for 13-19 year olds BUT its job information is good for people of any age. Simply put: want information? Google it. The web is an excellent source of information, dare I say sometimes better than a human adviser’s memory. Jobs 4 U cannot surely have a monopoly any more (if ever) on information. I could not find any sign of a coordinated careers service in the states, sorry guys. Some American Universities do have a service though.

See a Careers Adviser or Worker for help, counselling, choice making skills

Actually I preferred to call myself a Careers Worker rather than adviser. More than that, I often operated as a “counsellor”.  People don’t like to think of themselves as being “counselled” as it implies there is something wrong with them. So I never told anyone they were being counselled. It is all about helping wherever help is needed.

This is what the Trent Nottingham Careers Course trained  me to do (amongst other things). Professors Carl Rogers and Gerard Egan gave us “client-centred”, “non-directive counselling, which is all about being helpful. All that happens is that you share your thoughts with your careers worker so that you can decide your career and get on the right path towards your goal. Of course, thinking a bit before you see that worker doesn’t do any harm. Yet a problem shared is a problem halved. Only humans can do this.

Naturally, Ken Roberts and his structural-functionalist supporters will turn round and say, nice, but what about a job. Well Connexions does advertise job and training vacancies. So does Job Centre Plus or whatever in the UK. When I worked for Connexions, however, I always felt this was our Achilles Heel. Of course, there is always Google…

Further thoughts

Another possible Achilles Heel, if you can have two, is that some see the client-centred approach as a cop-out. A CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) counsellor I worked with (called Paul Martin) certainly dismissed Rogers and company as any good. Then again some Careers Advisers might use some CBT with clients.

Connexions is primarily a 13-19 service and I’m not sure whether they see “Adult” clients to any great extent. In the UK that means you may have to try Jobcentre Plus (who once employed OGUs (Occupational Guidance Units). Indeed an OGU led me to the Careers Service in 1980.

Some Advisers use Careerscape, Kudos and other computer programmes to help with making choices and getting information. In the past we used CASCAID and the Morrisby profile – special tests to help this process. Enough for now.

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