International Career Guidance Policy

Submitting Institution

University of Derby

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Specialist Studies In Education
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration

Download original


Summary of the impact

The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) specialises in careers education and guidance. Across different national jurisdictions, government engagement with, and support for, career guidance has varied considerably. iCeGS has a track record of engagement and influence on the development of policy in the UK and overseas. Major areas of influence can be summarised as follows:

1) development and systemisation of the evidence base around career guidance;

2) re-orientation of career guidance paradigms around learning and career management skills models;

3) development of innovative new models of delivery involving new technologies;

4) analysis and development of career guidance policy frameworks.

Underpinning research

iCeGS has undertaken research in the areas of careers education and guidance for fifteen years (1998-Present). In this period it has produced over 150 research publications. The Centre has consistently addressed lifelong guidance and has produced work on careers education and guidance in schools; disengaged young people; further education; higher education; human resource management and unemployment. The Centre has worked in a range of countries including all UK nations, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, the USA, Sri Lanka, China and Malaysia. The majority of the Centre's research has been funded by government or by leading policy stakeholders. A full list of publications is available at

A focus of the work of the Centre has been its on-going project to develop and systematise the evidence base on career guidance. Findings have demonstrated strong user support for career guidance as well as showing that career guidance can have a positive influence on learner retention in the education system, on educational attainment, on successful transition from learning to work and on a variety of measures of work and life satisfaction.

A second focus of the Centre's work has been the challenging existing paradigms associated with career guidance practice and scrutinising the approach taken in new government innovations. This research identified the importance of ensuring that career guidance is well contextualised and meaningfully linked to wider curriculum or workforce development activities. Other findings challenged models which locate career as a once in a lifetime choice and proposed alternative models which recognise the importance of lifelong career building. In policy terms this has provided an evidential basis from which to challenge policies which seek to divorce career guidance from mainstream education and which unduly focus on choice-making.

The third area in which the Centre has influenced policy has been in the development and evaluation of new technologies used in careers work. This work has shown that it is possible to conduct high quality career guidance at a distance through both telephone and online channels. It has also mapped the terrain of what is possible with respect to career guidance at a distance and how such services fit with conventional face-to-face services.

The final way in which the Centre has been active in influencing policy has been through work that explored the interface between career guidance policy and practice itself. This work has helped to define important public policy interests in career guidance as well as exploring and clarifying mechanisms through which career guidance programmes can serve these interests.

References to the research

Hooley, T., Hutchinson, J. & Watts, A.G. (2010). Careering Web 2.0 and 3.0 Technologies for Career Development and Career Support Services. London: UKCES.

This publication was commissioned by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to help inform the development of policy around the use of technology in careers services. The publication explored a range of different models of online careers services and proposed a typology to organise this practice and to frame policy development in this area (that online career services can provide information, automated interaction and communication). Grant details: Tristram Hooley, Improving Individual Choice in Career Direction and Learning, UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), August 2010 — October 2010: £23,775.

Hooley, T., Marriott, J. & Sampson, J.P. (2011). Fostering College and Career Readiness: How Career Development Activities in Schools Impact on Graduation Rates and Students' Life Success. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

This paper provides a comprehensive literature synthesis around the efficacy of school-based career development interventions. The paper was commissioned by a North American career development company and has been of critical importance to the development of their business. It has both shaped their products and provided them with a strong academic basis for discussions with schools. The paper has also had a wider value as it has been drawn on in various studies exploring the efficacy of school-based careers work. It was cited in a paper prepared by BIS and the DfE to help inform the development of careers services when the Coalition Government came to power. As part of this process Tristram Hooley (Head of iCeGS) was invited to take part in an expert seminar, to meet with civil servants and to comment upon the paper that was being prepared. The paper has also been utilised by the Ontario Provincial Government to inform the development of the provinces new career guidance policy. Grant details: Tristram Hooley, The impact of career learning on graduation rates and students' life success, Career Cruising, November 2010 — March 2011: £13,000.

Hooley, T. & Watts, A.G. (2011). Careers Work with Young People: Collapse or Transition? Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

This paper presents research done in response to the Coalition Government's decision to withdraw funding from the Connexions service. The research sought to establish the range of local responses to the shifts in policy and funding, and to examine how they impacted on the delivery of careers services. It noted that current government policy was leading to a substantial decline in the level of local authority provision in this area but noted that local authorities were pursuing a range of different approaches to managing this decline (extreme cutting, focusing solely on vulnerable young people, `wait and see' approach and working to sustain universal career guidance (at least 15 Local Authorities). Despite its critical stance, the paper was recognised by BIS and DfE as providing a contribution to the current knowledge base. The report's authors were invited to address key stakeholders and the paper was posted on the DfE's community of practice concerned with the commissioning of careers services. The report received some press coverage and was cited in parliament to provide evidence in for a question asking about the cuts to Connexions. Grant details: This work was done out of Centre resources. However, the research team worked closely with stakeholders from trade unions and professional associations to obtain the sample.

Hooley, T., Devins, D., Watts, A. G., Hutchinson, J., Marriott, J. & Walton, F. (2012). Tackling Unemployment, Supporting Business and Developing Careers. London: UKCES.

This publication was commissioned by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to help the organisation to think through the relationship between career guidance, employers and unemployed workers. The report was published as a research report with an additional employer focused version being produced for dissemination to employers as part of the Commission's work to shape employer practice and tackle unemployment. The report suggested that there was an important role for career guidance to mediate between employers and the labour market. It developed a typologies of "action spaces" within which employers can useful engage with career guidance: influencing the labour market; recruitment; workforce development; redundancy; and community engagement. Grant details: Tristram Hooley, Review and analysis of the contribution employers can make to career guidance, UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), July 2011 — December 2011: £25,475.

Hutchinson, J. (2012). Career-related learning and science education: The changing landscape. School Science Review, 346: 91-98.

This article emerged out of a strand of research focusing on the interface between STEM subject choice and career decision-making, guidance and education. This strand included empirical studies, and the development of good practice guidance guides for both schools and higher education. This publication sought to draw together the Centre's research and understanding of the policy landscape and present it in a clear way for practitioners and policy makers to access. Grant details: Jo Hutchinson, Gatsby School leadership: researching their role in career related learning and STEM, Gatsby, September 2011 — May 2013: £31,000

Hooley, T., Watts, A. G., Sultana, R. G. & Neary, S. (2013). The 'blueprint' framework for career management skills: a critical exploration. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 41(2): 117-131.


This publication emerged out of work conducted by iCeGS with Skills Development Scotland who were seeking to develop a new framework for service delivery (a blueprint) in Scotland and parallel work undertaken in England around the development of an equivalent blueprint in England being developed by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. On publication of the article findings were fed back to policymakers in England, Scotland, the US, Canada and Australia to inform the on-going development of career management skills frameworks worldwide. Grant details: This work was associated with two connected projects in Scotland and England. Tristram Hooley, Developing a career blueprint for Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, January 2010 — July 2010: £48,375 and Tristram Hooley, Development of the Blueprint for Careers, LSIS, June 2011 — April 2013: £20,000.

Details of the impact

iCeGS' work has been influential in policy development both in the UK and overseas. iCeGS has a commitment to engagement with the sector and to maximising impact through four main strategies:

  1. Commitment to open access/online sharing. The Centre has invested in the maintenance and development of its website. The website serves as a resource base for the sector and features a regular news update and a monthly synthesis of research information and policy developments. The Centre's website receives an average of 50,000 hits per year. The Centre works with funders and publishers to make as much material freely available online as possible through the UDORA research archive. Staff are encouraged to develop their social media profiles, to engage in blogging and to share their research with networks of practitioners and policy makers.
  2. Practitioner engagement. The Centre maintains a database of over 3000 practitioner contacts and communicates with them regularly through research projects and through a monthly email newsletter. Staff are regularly invited to speak at events organised by key professional bodies such as the Career Development Institute.
  3. Engagement of intermediaries. The Centre works closely with key intermediary bodies that sit between practitioners and policy makers. These include professional organisations, employer bodies, for example Careers England and the Education and Employers Taskforce, and a range of government and third sector bodies, such as the UKCES, LSIS, EHRC and HEFCE. In many cases, these intermediary bodies fund iCeGS' research to enable the Centre to input into the policy development process.
  4. Direct engagement with policy makers. iCeGS maintains direct relationships with policy makers in local and national government. This activity includes conducting directly commissioned research, regular meetings with key civil servants and politicians, and contributing to policy consultations and enquiries.

Examples of Impact:

UK: Following the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010, the Head of iCeGS met with civil servants in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education to discuss the evidence base around careers work and input into the emergent policy. This included participating in a DfE seminar on the evidence base and reviewing the DfE's internal paper. Engagement with Government has continued with staff from the Centre continuing to meet with representatives of government departments and agencies (HEFCE, Skills Funding Agency, UKCES etc.) While the Centre has sought to build a productive engagement with government, the direction of policy has run counter to the evidence base. Consequently, the Centre has published a number of research papers which have been critical of government policy. These have frequently been undertaken in close consultation with key policy stakeholders in this area (Unison, the Career Development Institute, the Career Sector Strategic Forum). This research has resulted in both media coverage and further involvement in the policy sphere. The Head of Centre was appointed as the Specialist Adviser to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Career Guidance for Young People and met with the Labour Party shadow ministers responsible for career guidance. iCeGS Staff have been asked to input specialist expertise to HEFCE and Offa to help shape strategy for widening participation and the Skills Funding Agency in the construction of the new procurement arrangements for the National Careers Service.

Europe: Three staff from the Centre have been involved in providing expertise and consultancy to the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network since its foundation in 2007. This body brings together policy-makers from across Europe to develop lifelong guidance policy and practice.

Sri Lanka: The Centre was invited to contribute to the Education for Knowledge Society Project funded by the Asia Development Bank in 2011. Siobhan Neary led the career guidance strand which developed a cohesive and coherent approach to career guidance in schools. This included the establishment an Advisory Committee, a National Action Committee and an inter-ministerial mechanism so that careers work in schools could benefit from coordination with careers services provided by other government ministries. The Centre then supported implementation of these policies through training and the development of a practitioner focused website.

Canada: The Centre has built links with policy makers and key stakeholders in Canada. In August and September 2011, the Head of iCeGS has been invited to speak at conferences in Canada and to meet with key provincial policy makers in New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta. The Centre was funded by a Canadian company to produce a critical review of the evidence base around careers education and guidance. This has then been used by stakeholders and policy makers in the development of a new Ontario policy on career education and guidance.

Sources to corroborate the impact

iCeGS research is cited in the majority of careers related research reports. Recent examples include Bowes et al., 2012, London Skills & Employment Observatory, 2012, and Sissons and Jones, 2012. iCeGS research is also widely covered in the press with articles about iCeGS research appearing Times Educational Supplement, The Guardian, Times Higher Education and

FE News. Examples include:

  • Collapse or Transition. Hooley and Watts (2011) received press coverage relating to cuts in Connexions, particularly from the TES (2011) and TES, FE News (2011), and was reported in Hansard (2011) following an opposition debate on Careers Service cuts.
  • Careers 2020. Hooley, Marriott, Watts & Coffait (2012) formed the basis for the Pearson submission to the Education Committee Inquiry into career guidance. It also resulted in invitations for Tristram Hooley to contribute articles to The Guardian (Hooley, 2013a & 2013b) and FE Week (Hooley, 2013).
  • Education Committee Inquiry into Career Guidance for Young People: Tristram Hooley (Head of iCeGS) was Specialist Adviser to the Education Committee Inquiry. The report was published in 2013 and drew on a number of pieces of iCeGS research as part of the evidence base for its findings.
  • Impact of the Centre's work on the use of new technologies in careers work: The Centre has discussed the interface between career guidance and new technologies through a number of publications (e.g. Hooley, Hutchinson & Watts, 2010a&b; Hooley, 2012). This work has been extensively cited in key policy papers exploring this issue (Borbley-Pecze & Watts, 2011; Hoyos et al., 2013).
  • Impact of the Centre's work on STEM careers: The Centre has undertaken research into how young people think about careers related to STEM subjects. The research has also explored how career support needs to be organised and what policy framework needs to exist to support STEM careers (Hutchison & Bentley, 2011; Finegold Stagg and Hutchinson, 2011; Hutchinson, 2012). This was cited in the Gatsby STEM Careers Review (Holman & Finegold, 2011) which in turn informed the funding for a £200k investment in STEM Careers managed by the National STEM Centre.