This section describes some research studies into the use and effectiveness of career programmes - characterised by there being multiple, structured interventions of different types to achieve one or more outcomes that are typically delivered over a period of time - weeks, months or even years (in education).

We have included several articles that discuss career programmes in general terms, such as their construction from different interventions, but studies into how these are optimally constructed are relatively rare in the literature. We provided examples of case studies of specific career programmes and their evaluation studies, which were far more common.

In providing some selected publications, we have suggested the insight that they might contribute to career practitioners or careers service managers who are considering the design, improvement or evaluation of career programmes.


  1. Practices and outcomes - Demonstrations of achieving different outcomes in a range of settings

  2. Further illustrations and perspectives - Sources of further perspectives, from discussions, podcasts, video etc

  3. Future research questions - Candidate topics for future research based on the CDI’s discussions with stakeholders.

1. Practices and outcomes

Selected publications that describe practices and outcomes for different challenges are listed below, with links in the title column. We have mostly included open access sources, but where the sources requires payment, it is noted next to the link by “(Paid)”.



Brief description

Careers Hub Cornwall and Isle of Scilly, (n.d.). Case studies (Link)

Reviewing case studies in primary and secondary school

The Careers Hub provides a range of case studies on how career programmes have aided with different objectives in schools. Case studies are aligned to the aims of the Gatsby Benchmarks. 

Education Development Trust,(n.d.). News (Link)

Targteting transition programmes at groups in need

The Education Development Trust carry out a wide range of projects, reported through their news stories and research reports. Projects include a wide range of targeted projects aimed at employability, such as supporting refugees, and international initiatives.

In Equilibrium, (n.d.). Corporate Coaching (LInk)

Developing programmes for employees and organisations

There are very many coaching companies across the UK providing programmes for organisations and their employees. In this example, one such organisation describe case studies that straddle career coaching, executive coaching and support for employees who have suffered trauma. 

Reese, R. J., & Miller, C. D. (2006). Effects of a university career development course on career decision-making self-efficacy. Journal of Career Assessment, 14(2), 252–266. (Link)

Creating a course with young adults to raise decision making capabilities and confidence

The effects of a career development course on career decision-making self-efficacy were demonstrated. The paper showed particular benefits lay in the areas of obtaining occupational information, setting career goals, and career planning. The authors also argue for the importance of basing such courses of career theory.

Koivisto, P. (2010), Preparing for working life: Effects of group counseling on adolescents career development and mental health. People and Work Research Reports No 92. Finish Institute of Occupational Health (Link)

Creating short programmes to enhance career preparedness and reduce mental health risks of transitions.

This report for the Finnish Institute of Health describes two experiments which both involved 1-week long group programmes with adolescents aimed at helping them to become ready for career transitions from school. The first group was concerned with work transitions and the second was readied to make educational choices. Positive results were found in both, and in the second, indicators of mental health risks were redued. 

Solberg, V. S., Phelps, L. A., Haakenson, K. A., Durham, J. F., & Timmons, J. (2012). The nature and use of individualised learning plans as a promising career intervention strategy. Journal of Career Development, 39(6), 500-514. (Link)

Using career plans (in a compulsory education setting)

The paper reports the practice of career learning plans being adopted in secondary schools. Research finds that “Parents, teachers, and students indicate that ILPs result in students selecting more rigorous courses, better teacher– student relationships, and positive parent–school relations.” However, there are some challenges to overcome to get the buy in of the whole school.

Moore, N., Zećirević, M., & Peters, S.A. (2014). Establishing Croatia’s lifelong career guidance service. Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling. (Link)

Aligning a service to national (or higher level) policy agendas

Set against a growing agenda in Europe for lifelong learning systems, the recent election of Croatia as an EU member state, saw the need for the country to develop a lifelong learning guidance service. This paper describes how policy imperatives shaped the requirements for a new system, shaped by a new national strategy, through to the marketing and the operationalisation of the new services. Tensions between various policy ends are also described.

Stipanovic, N., & Stringfield, S. (2013). A qualitative inquiry of career exploration in highly implemented career and technical education programs of study. International Journal of Educational Reform, 22(4), 334-354.(Link) (Paid)

Developing programmes for post-compulsory education.

This qualitative study explores career counselling and guidance services as provided to students engaged in five year career and technical education programs. The services offered are described, and the research finds careers development occurs amongst students in a variety of forms. 

Browning, L., Thompson, K., & Dawson, D. (2014). Developing future research leaders: Designing early career researcher programs to enhance track record. International Journal for Researcher Development, 5(2), 123-134. (Link)

Building a programme for early career adults, to support a path towards leadership, based on the success factors of their leaders

The purpose of this paper is "to describe a novel strategy for building research capability in a young university with an emerging research culture.” The researchers first gained a view of how current leading researchers had become research leaders and how universities can design strategies to attract, retain, develop and promote researchers. The researchers then designed and implemented a career development programme for early career researchers. Early career researchers were taught how to build a track record, which can lead to a successful research career. Additionally, the programmes offered the benefit of increasing research productivity for the individual researchers and for the organisation.

Taylor, A. R., & Hooley, T. (2014). Evaluating the impact of career management skills module and internship programme within a university business school. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 42(5), 487-499. (Link)

Constructing a programme with a work experience component for school graduates

This study evaluates the impact of an intervention on business school graduates’ employability comprising of a curriculum-based career management skills (CMS) module and an industrial placement year. The study uses data from the destinations of leavers of higher education survey to examine the employability of different groups within the cohort (no intervention, CMS module only and CMS module plus structured work experience). It finds that structured work experience has clear, positive effects on the ability of graduates to secure employment in ‘graduate level’ jobs within six months of graduation. Furthermore, participation in the CMS module also has a clear, positive effect upon the ability of participants to secure employment

Spurk, D., Kauffeld, S., Barthauer, L., & Heinemann, N. S. (2015). Fostering networking behavior, career planning and optimism, and subjective career success: An intervention study. Journal of vocational behavior, 87, 134-144. (Link)

Ensuring that different programme components are additive

This German-based study evaluated a programme of training in networking skills for STEM students in higher education. Groups received training with and without coaching, while a control group received no coaching. The results showed that the training had a positive effect on career planning behaviours. However, the addition of the coaching element did not seem to provide any further benefits .

Draaisma, A., Meijers, F., & Kuijpers, M. (2018). The development of strong career learning environments: the project ‘Career Orientation and Guidance’ in Dutch vocational education. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 70, 27 - 46. (Link)

Creating a shared vision amongst staff and stakeholders for a programme that supports a learning culture

The paper is based on the context of careers education in Dutch secondary schools, with schools having been encouraged to create a strong learning environment for such work. This paper describes the influence of the project, using interviews with n=50 teachers who administer the work. The research finds that there is variability between the teachers on the extent that they support their’ school’s career focus. The authors conclude that the lack of support is, in part at least, down to the lack of a shared and inclusion vision for the programme.. 

Howell, D., Serignese, M., Anderson, S., Dodson, R., McDowell, J., Miller, J., ... & Shehan, B. (2019). Promoting the Value of Career Education Programs. Inquiry, 22(1), n1. (Link)

Reflecting on success, best practice and challenges using an example of a US vocational training and careers programme

The paper is written in context of the US situation where, at the time of writing, 12,5m secondary and postgraduate students were involved in Careers and Technical education programmes (CTE), which involve a combination of vocational training and work experience. This paper reviews these programmes, outlining strengths, challenges and best practices.

Gee, K. A., Beno, C., Lindstrom, L., Lind, J., Post, C., & Hirano, K. (2020). Enhancing college and career readiness programs for underserved adolescents. Journal of Youth Development, 15(6), 222-251. (Link)

Gathering insights prior to program design, for disadvantaged groups

The authors “share insights from our program development process that can inform the work of program developers, educators and youth services providers who seek to build and enhance career and college readiness programs aimed at underserved youth.” Insights used by the researchers come from a literature review on college and career readiness and stakeholder-input (student, parent and educator) via focus groups. Methods of incorporation into development and design of college and career readiness activities and programming are discussed.

Womack, V. Y., Thakore, B. K., Wood, C. V., Jewett, D. C., Jones, R. F., Ingram, S. L., ... & McGee, R. (2020). The ASPET mentoring network: enhancing diversity and inclusion through career coaching groups within a scientific society. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 19(3), ar29. (Link)

Conducting group career coaching for expert groups with culturally-diverse representation

This report builds on past studies that show how career coaching can help to increase the diversity of the STEM workforce and provide increased awareness of options for STEM-trained graduates beyond ‘research scientist’. In this study, a 12 month online group programme is described that offers career support to young scientists. Methods are described where the researchers draw from different social science theories in building the programme, including using social capital ideas as part of accounting for the potential additional barriers or diverse groups within the design. Surveys are used to demonstrate the range of benefits, which including measuring trust and cohesion within the group, as well as post-intervention scores covering ‘awareness of career options’, and feeling equipped to act. Scores were generally very positive.

Blake, H., Kashefpakdel, E. and Hooley, T. (2023). Evaluation of the Teachers Encounters Programme. Report by the University of Derby for the Careers Enterprise Company (Link)

Recognising the value of careers educators (teachers) engaging with employers to increase their capability to educate their students

This report is an analysis of the impact of the year-long national pilot programme which delivered over 1000 encounters between teachers and employers. The programme was operated through The Careers & Enterprise Company’s Careers Hubs in partnership with combined authorities, local authorities and LEPs. The Careers Hubs bring together schools, colleges, employers, apprenticeship providers, combined and local authorities and LEPs to increase the ability of education providers to improve how they prepare young people for their next steps and their career.

2. Further illustrations and perspectives

Other sources provide some further perspectives on this practice, including meta-analysis and economic analysis.



Brief description

Neumark, D., & Rothstein, D. (2006). School-to-career programs and transitions to employment and higher education. Economics of education review, 25(4), 374-393. (Link)

Describing and justifying school-to-career programmes

In the aftermath of changes to US career provision, this study provides an economic evaluation on the nation’s school-to-career programs, which had been costing $1.5bn prior to the changes. This paper assesses the effects of STC programs on transitions to employment and higher education among youths leaving high school, with a focus on estimating the causal effects of this participation given possible non-random selection of youths into STC programs. The authors find some “sizeable” effects for the programmes on employment rate. They also describe the “selection problem”, where, for instance, individuals are selected for research that have unmeasured characteristics associated with post-high school enrollment.”

Whiston, Susan C., et al. "Effectiveness of career choice interventions: A meta-analytic replication and extension." Journal of Vocational Behavior 100 (2017): 175-184. (Link)

Selecting interventions for building career programmes

This meta-analysis of career choice intervention is a replication of an early one by Brown and Ryan Krane (2000), and covers the evidence for the effectiveness of 19 different interventions which themselves could be included in a programme. 57 studies were included in the review. Separate analyses were carried out for different outcomes, like career maturity and vocational identity. The biggest effects were found for self-efficacy. Comparisons were made between counselling and interventions as diverse as computer guided and world of work information.

Whiston, S. C., Mitts, N. G., & Li, Y. (2019). Evaluation of career guidance programs. International handbook of career guidance, 815-834. (Link)(Paid)

Comparison of the relative preferences for interventions and a method for evaluating a career program.

The authors first examine previous research related to the effects of career guidance programs or interventions with a discussion of the effectiveness of career guidance programs, which modalities are preferable in providing career guidance, which clients benefit from these interventions, and outcome measures that are typically used in the evaluation of career guidance programs. Second, the authors provide a summary of how to conduct an evaluation of a career guidance program.

Careers and Enterprise Company (2023), Our impact. (Link)

Reviewing the range of impacts that are achieved with the national programme in schools

The Careers and Enterprise programme provide a national programme in England. This article reviews their annual impact. At the time of this report, 92% of schools are in a Careers Hub. Students are showing systematic improvements in their career awareness and decision-making capabilities, as measured against the Gatsby framework. The programme also shows a 20% reduction in NEETs.

SQL (2023),Evaluations of universities’ employability programmes for TASO. Report for TASO (Link)

Evaluation of higher education employability programmes for for opportunities to reduce inequality gaps

TASO (Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education) is an independent charity that addresses inequality in higher education. In 2021, TASO commissioned an evidence review (from SQW) to identify effective approaches to reduce equality gaps of employability programmes in several higher education settings at Cambridge and Exeter Universities.

3. Future research questions

From the CDI’s discussions with stakeholders, there is a perception that the careers field has demonstrated the overall value of individual interventions (e.g. a guidance interview, work placement). However, there is far less known about the optimal configuration of interventions into a programme. (Our literature review supports this view, with no evident sources that have examined the ways to construct programmes out of various component interventions in an optimal way). Therefore an outstanding future research question is:

  • How are individual career interventions optimally configured into programmes?