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Inspiring Your Continuous Professional Development - October 2020

22 10.20

Measuring the value of careers work

This topic reflects a frequently asked question, which has proved difficult to answer for many reasons. Not least amongst these is the question itself: how to define ‘value’. What matters to us as professionals may be different from what matters to those holding the purse-strings, and both aspects are important. What matters to our clients is even more important, but often the least examined.

There are no quick fixes here, and this monthly newsletter has a comparatively high proportion of longer items. This is inevitable in exploring the questions, approaches and findings relevant to the topic.

CPD Newsletters offer ideas, not compulsory activities. Just remember that undertaking 25 hours of CPD each year is a condition of registration for Registered Career Development Professionals. For all members, undertaking CPD meets the principle in the CDI Code of Ethics relating to professional development.

Choose items and activities – here or elsewhere – that suit your role and your style so that you can explore a topic, interact with others and create a reflective record in the Members’ Area of the CDI website.


Hot off the press

The CDI is grateful to the Oxford University Press for permitting us to use a chapter from the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Career Development [Robertson, P.J., Hooley, T. & McCash, P. (Eds) 2021]. Many chapters are already published online but behind a paywall. As a contribution to this newsletter, we have been given free access to the chapter Evidence-based practice for career development in which Robertson (2020) notes that ’(e)valuating the effectiveness of career development interventions presents formida­ble methodological challenges, not least the conceptual and definitional issues raised by the selection of outcome measures … To best inform practice, research evidence should be combined with local knowledge, practitioner experience, and input from service users.’ He presents a simple integrated model for this process.


Young people’s transitions

In Contemporary Transitions: young Britons reflect on life after secondary school and college (2016), the authors reference ‘a crisis in school to work transitions’, citing the proportion of young people who are unemployed and the levels of earnings of those in work. The report examines specifically the part that employer engagement can play, and seeks to understand how it helps.


Addressing inequity

An OECD report Working It Out (2018) develops further the theme of inequity, adding concern for the quality of jobs and conditions of work. It identifies the value of careers work in tackling inequity, addressing the key question: ‘What makes for effective provision?’


Meaningful work

An IES report for the Youth Futures Foundation also addresses the question of job quality in Supporting disadvantaged young people into meaningful work (2020). Questions of correlation or causality exist in all these reports, with this report specifically identifying the importance of one-to-one advisory support and continuity of adviser.


What matters and what counts?

The National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF) website was a valuable resource, but is no longer updated. We have drawn from it the detailed report of a conversation on impact assessment entitled What Matters and what counts in guidance? It remains a thorough and useful exploration of all that we need to think about when approaching the questions implied in its title.


What works?

This has been a key question for the Careers and Enterprise Company. For any career development professionals working in or with schools, it is worth visiting the Research section of the CEC website, and using the search terms ‘What works’ and ‘Impact’ to locate their range of publications relating to different school and college concerns.


Soft outcomes and distance travelled

Counting ‘hard outcomes’ (entry to work or training, for example) is the comparatively easy bit. Some guidance users of all ages will need support on their journey to work or training. A report by Warwick IER for the European Commission (2019) examines the potential and the issues that arise in trying to measure the stages of the journey. Its focus is on the feasibility of measuring progress in the context of work with long-term unemployed people.


Higher education – international and institution-based evidence

From Australia, Michael Healy offers a summary of the international evidence of the value of careers and employability work in HE. He concludes by suggesting that that is only part of the story: institutions need to undertake their own evaluation studies too.


Setting up a new programme or initiative?

Evaluation should be built in from the planning the stage. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation offers a succinct publication Evaluating community projects – a practical guide with principles, good practice and worksheets. Its step-by-step approach is easily transferable to career development contexts.


Thinking about sustainability and social justice

This takes us back to the opening comments about defining value and what matters for whom. This months’ review by the ONS on Children’s views on well-being and what makes a happy life  summarises young people’s concerns: In discussing their future happiness and well-being, the main areas raised included living in a country at peace and where children's needs are considered by those in positions of power; empowering children to express themselves and have a say in decisions that affect their lives; and preservation of the environment and addressing climate change.

So, no mention of careers? This raises the importance of linking career thinking with children’s deep concerns, particularly about the environment and climate change, a topic addressed by Peter Plant in Paradigms under pressure: green guidance. [Our thanks to Peter, a Danish professor and a NICEC International Fellow, for sharing a pre-publication version of this article.]


Further research

All of the above reports grapple with the importance, but comparative lack, of quality in programme evaluation. The CDI recognises the role that practitioners can play in research and evaluation on their professional services, as this is essential both to improving professional practice and to collecting evidence of the value of careers work. Earlier this year we held our first Demystifying Research – Encouraging Curiosity conference and most of the proceedings are available. The CDI will be offering another research event in February 2021. Keep an eye on the newly redesigned Training and Events area of the CDI website for details.


Using our LinkedIn and Facebook groups – a good way to stay in touch

The CDI has many Community of Interest LinkedIn groups, which are a good place for discussing professional development issues and personal dilemmas with other members. They offer a chance for connecting with colleagues and alleviating the emotional strain of isolation.

The moderated Community of Practice for Career Leaders was launched last September, so if your work includes school-based activities, it could be a useful community for you.

The Facebook group Career Development Professional Community of Practice is very active, now with over 600 members. It rapidly became a place where members share resources (including up-to-date LMI materials), and pose questions and requests for ideas – an ideal place for keeping in touch and keeping up with the news in these strange times. The moderators have recently launched a fortnightly live broadcast series #wearecareers


Recording and reflecting on CPD

Access is through Your CPD diary > in the CPD Area.

Reading, talking and reflecting on topics and resources such as those above all count towards your CPD hours as long as you write a short reflective report in your CPD Record.

If you have any issues with accessing the members’ only area please email or  and they will be able to sort these out for you.


For any questions relating to CPD Recording please contact:

Dr Lyn Barham
Project Associate (Research)

(If you have any questions relating to this email please contact