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Developing Career Trajectories in England: The Role of Effective Guidance

This third report is based on data collected from the 36 clients who were successfully contacted two years after the case study interview (three years into the study). It focuses on how the career trajectories of participants in England are developing.

This third year of investigation builds on findings from the initial case study interview and the first phase of follow-up by continuing to focus on the career progression of clients, their perception of guidance received and its role in their career development. In particular, it highlights barriers and influences, the changing reflections on the guidance interview, together with client views of their career choices and decisions. Two years on, clients were asked to assess: the usefulness of the guidance they had received in the light of developments over the past two years; the type of support, if any, they had received (and from whom); the influences and circumstance affecting their decisions and choices over the last year.

Evidence suggests that the majority of clients in this study perceived the concept of ‘career’ as having relevance to them. Further, their particular perceptions of this concept involved formal employment patterns rather than employment as autonomous workers out-with organisations, or as self-employed. Those who are currently disengaged from the labour market wished to re-enter and participate in career development. Those at the point of transition to the labour market had accepted the need to invest considerable resources in their own human capital development if they were to succeed in achieving their ambitions of entering career pathways and progressing.

Findings also suggest that those clients who are currently disengaged from the labour market are struggling with multiple barriers to their progression. In addition, a large proportion of clients were actively investing in their human capital development, for the purpose of increasing their market value. Most were graduates, who had accepted the need to go beyond their initial degree qualifications to add further qualification and training – even complementing these formal academic credentials with work experience. Consequently they were sacrificing short term gains for longer term benefit.

A distinguishing feature of the career trajectories of sixteen of the clients was the career changes they had made in the two years since their initial case study interview. Two types of career changers were identified: strategists and opportunists. Findings further indicate that many of the clients have been actively managing their careers and progressing their future plans. They have undertaken various activities for this purpose, experienced changes in their thinking and changed career direction. Finally, clients were able to identify skills, attitudes and knowledge that have assisted their career development. Many clients attributed their newly acquired career management competencies to the guidance practitioners with whom they had worked.