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Effective Guidance One Year On: Evidence from Longitudinal Case Studies in England

This second report from the study focuses on the first phase of the follow-up investigation. The 50 clients from the initial case study investigation (December, 2002 to March, 2004) were all contacted by telephone, approximately one year after the guidance interview that featured in the first report (October 2004-March 2005). Forty-five of these clients agreed to be interviewed. The follow-up interviews, one year on, tracked the achievements and aspirations of clients, providing rich insights into contrasting career trajectories.

The first year of follow-ups documented further evidence of the positive impacts of guidance (which complemented evidence collected during the initial stage of research). It was found that guidance had acted as a catalyst for positive change, even where agreed action had not been implemented or advice followed. One year on, over half of the clients (53%, n=24) were improving their occupational competence, by engaging with education or training. They were involved variously with up-skilling, re-skilling or training for re-entry to the labour market. Four barriers to career progression were identified, which had prevented clients from implementing the action plans agreed during the case study interview. These comprised: financial constraints; childcare commitments; health issues and local labour market conditions.

Findings from this research emphasise the importance of incorporating the concept of ‘distance travelled’ by the client in evaluations of the impact of guidance. Even where no direct relationship was found between agreed action and subsequent career progress, guidance was found to have played a crucial role. Career transitions are often complex and lengthy, with quantifiable outcomes (like placement into education, training or employment) alone inadequate indicators of whether a client has, actually, made progress towards a longer term career destination.