Leadership and Careers Provision: A New Dawn (FETL)

Further Education Trust for Leadership

This new research conducted by Deirdre Hughes OBE explores the ways in which leaders can provide young people and adults with the pathways they need to achieve success, and aims to encourage discussion around ways forward in these uncertain times.

Executive Summary:

FETL commissioned this ‘think piece’ to stimulate ideas and discussion on how leaders can best create career pathways to success for young people and adults during volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times. The content builds upon recent announcements in the Comprehensive Spending Review (Treasury, 2020), a literature review of leadership and careers provision, and 13 in-depth interviews with senior managers from further education (FE) and careers sectors in England. There is an urgent call for national, regional and local leadership designed to take action on improving careers provision for young people and adults across England. Job roles and labour markets are changing rapidly. Job security has been abruptly and cruelly diminished for many, without warning. Staying healthy, paying the bills and managing to ‘put bread on the table’ are priorities for many individuals and families. At the core of the need for action are the issues of identity, trust, dignity, livelihood and sense of belonging and fulfilment. Mental health and wellbeing is often associated with one’s job status and income level. This will require new skills and mindsets focused on opportunities, career adaptability and resilience.

Places and Spaces

When it comes to providing hope and opportunity, there are two simple questions:

• Where can young people and adults go to for trustworthy careers information, advice and guidance/ coaching in England? (Places)
• What type of high-quality blended careers support can be made available in local communities, both online and offline? (Spaces)

This paper argues for more collective action, and local places and spaces for inclusive careers support. This is crucial in supporting individuals’ education, economic and wellbeing outcomes. If ever there was a moment in time to take stock and improve the life chances of individuals surely now is the time. A new leadership and leaderhood movement can bring about positive change and prosperity to individuals’ career progression and their livelihoods. It is a ‘no-brainer’ to ramp up inclusive careers support across England, with FE colleges and partners at the forefront.

Six Key Recommendations

For government policy-makers, leaders, professional bodies, trade unions and practitioners:

1. Inclusive careers support services and leadership should be prioritised and clearly framed within national, regional and local economic and social recovery plans.
2. The future development of England’s National Careers Service, Work coach programme (DWP) and Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) policies should be coowned and assisted by a cross-departmental taskforce/advisory body with a clear governance structure.
3. A new lifetime skills and careers advice and guidance service should be hosted within colleges (where appropriate and subject to resourcing) situated in the context of a strong partnership approach with national and local careers and employability providers.
4. The 2012–2020 careers experiment in England should be formally reviewed. The ‘knowledge hexagon’ of education, businesses, training providers, trade unions, careers and employability professionals should be strengthened as a condition for jobs, skills and growth 2021–2031.
5. Time, energy and resource must be invested in more and better careers information, advice and guidance from well-trained and qualified professionals.
6. A highly visible and well-resourced careers support campaign is needed to address skills mismatch, skills gaps and promote career adaptability and resilience in a post-Covid era.

Read the full report.