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Careers LMI: Evidence and impact

The following presents some of the IER research evidence that has proved that high quality LMI is needed to improve the efficiency of labour markets by understanding the supply and demand for different skills.

Role of LMI in career guidance and individual development

The first phase of research relates to an internationally unique qualitative, longitudinal case study in England (2003–2008), which explored the effectiveness of
career guidance by analysing data from interviews with 50 adults tracked over a five year period. Funded by the [then] Department for Education and Skills, it was the first example of a study that tracked career trajectories over time to evaluate the role career guidance in individual development and progression. Fifty adults were followed up over a five year period, with new knowledge produced that emphasised the high value placed by clients on access to high quality LMI. This phase of work was continued with two other research grants examining individual career progression across Europe (2010 - 2011) and career adaptability in England and Norway (2011 - 2012).

Development of Information and Communication Technologies supporting the use of LMI

Findings from these studies were extended during the second phase of research, funded by a European Framework 7 project (MATURE, 2008-2012). An important focus was on developing information and communications technologies (ICT) to support knowledge transfer amongst careers guidance practitioners in their use of labour market information (LMI) with clients. A more general aim was to facilitate knowledge maturation processes in the career guidance community more widely. A key assumption underpinning the project was that individual learning processes are linked to organisational learning in a ‘knowledge-maturing process’, during which knowledge continually changes in nature. This knowledge can take many forms (e.g., related to work tasks or processes) and tools were developed to support the processes of knowledge maturation and transfer (e.g. website to support expertise development in organisations: SOBOLEO). The research process involved on-going dialogue with policy makers and careers service managers about the changing nature of careers, how the careers sector could harness knowledge of labour markets and embed this at a grass roots level and what changes in practitioner knowledge, skills, behaviour and attitudes are required to support innovation in practice. The knowledge maturation processes discussed with key partners (Connexions services in Northumberland and Kent) were useful in scoping the nature of challenges the profession faced and developing technologically-enhanced solutions (including the subsequent development of two online learning modules, one on LMI and one on STEM: located on the NGRF website) together with a three country ‘LMI Concordat’ to implement the LMI module across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales), which acknowledged the constraints facing practical realisation.

Details of the impact

This research has resulted in two main areas of impact.

Information and Resources for Careers Guidance practitioners: UK and International

The research has benefited practitioners through the creation of the National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF); a website which informs practitioners about relevant developments in careers research and a ‘one-stop shop’ for high quality LMI. Subsequently, the Learning and Skills Agency (England) commissioned distilled ‘job information’ for careers practitioners and their clients, accessed from the National Careers Service website. From April 2012 to June 2013, access to the LMI module has been paid for by nearly 1,000 registrants, with over 150,000 downloads recorded and the STEM module had just over 2,000 visits.

Internationally, Professor Jenny Bimrose and Dr Deirdre Hughes were keynotes at a Symposium on LMI for careers practice held in Australia in May 2013 and made significant contributions to the subsequent ‘Communique’, which set out the recommendations for the sector. This event was the first international e-career
services symposium on state-of-the-art technologies and provided opportunity for over 100 professionals and key stakeholders to shape the future direction of the electronic delivery of career services.

In addition, from 2011 to 2013, manager practitioners in the Republic of Ireland and the Republic of China integrated the protocol on career decision making into careers education programmes developed from the 5 year longitudinal research into practice with 661 students from Dublin Institute of Technology and the National University of Ireland and 588 students at East China Normal University, Shanghai. Impact was positive and its implementation is now being integrated into careers service practice in these HEIs.

Policy Frameworks and Advice: UK

The IER team worked with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES); presented evidence to Parliamentary and Assemblies formal proceedings, supplemented by direct Ministerial advisory support in England and Wales and close working links with Ministers and/or senior policymakers in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Professor Jenny Bimrose was appointed as a member to the UKCES ‘expert panel’ (2011 – 2012), Dr Deirdre Hughes was appointed to a Ministerial advisory role as Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2011-present) and Dr Sally-Anne Barnes was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship (2011 - 2013), also at the UKCES.

In May 2012, Dr Deirdre Hughes was appointed as Chair of the National Careers Council in England; an advisory body to Government (June 2013). The Council’s report to government (‘Aspirational Nation’) references IER’s unique contribution to ICT and LMI developments, emphasising the need for new skills sets for career development practitioners, career adaptability and resilience, and early findings from the UKCES commissioned ‘LMI for All’ initiative. As a result, the National Careers Service forthcoming procurement plans (September 2013) will feature ICT, LMI and career resilience prominently to help transform careers services at both a national and local level. The cumulative findings from the IER research significantly contributed to the UKCES’s investment in LMI and ICT research in the ‘LMI for All’ project managed by Professor Jenny Bimrose, (2012 - 2015). This is informing and supporting UK-wide careers policies and practices at Ministerial and senior policymaker level, as evidenced by its incorporation within the UKCES business plan (2012 - 2013) and references to the research in Departmental policy reviews and Parliamentary and Assembly hearings on the design, development and impact of careers services.

Elsewhere in the UK, senior Scottish Government officials consulted with Professor Jenny Bimrose and Dr Deirdre Hughes on a new careers policy strategy in 2011. The resulting report ‘Career information, advice and guidance in Scotland - A framework for service redesign and improvement’ has been approved by the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning and has recommendations for organisations in Scotland responsible for the planning, management and delivery of Career IAG including Skills Development Scotland, schools, colleges and local authorities. IER’s contribution focussed on the use of LMI within and across the national careers service. As a result, Skills Development Scotland began exploratory talks with IER and has established a Celtic Nations LMI Concordat.

IER delivered a training event in 2011 to build capacity in the use of LMI in Northern Ireland. One hundred careers practitioners attended, as did the Minister for Employment and Learning who wanted to learn more about the challenges faced by careers practitioners. The outcomes from this event fed into a policy review of LMI by the careers service, a subsequent Assembly Inquiry and strengthened policy developments between and across the Celtic Nations, which the Minister
endorsed as a positive development to increase the impact of careers provision.

Policy frameworks and Advice: EU

Dr Deirdre Hughes was appointed by the European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) as an expert consultant on quality assurance and evidence-based policy systems development in 2011 - 2014. Dr Deirdre Hughes and Tibor Bors Borbély-Pecze (senior advisor of the Hungarian National Employment Service) led on the initial design and testing of a new ‘Quality Assurance Framework’ for policymakers. Dr Deridre Hughes has continued the work in 2013 working with Jennifer McKenzie, a senior adviser to the Irish Government. The impact of the new framework is demonstrated by a growing number of countries using this to gather intelligence to inform professionalization discourse and future investments in careers provision.

Selected references to the research

  • Brown, A., Bimrose, J., Barnes, S-A. and Hughes, D. (2012). The role of career adaptabilities for mid-career changers. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, pp. 754-761 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2012.01.003.
  • Bimrose, J., Hughes, D. and Barnes, S-A. (2011). Integrating new technologies into careers practice: Extending the knowledge base. Wath-upon-Dearne: UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
  • Bimrose, J. and Barnes, S-A. (2010). Labour market information (LMI), information communications and technologies (ICT) and information, advice and guidance (IAG): the way forward? London: UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
  • Brown, A., Bimrose, J. and Barnes, S-A. (2009). Collaborative work-related learning and technology-enhanced learning. In: Maclean, R. and Wilson, D. International handbook of education for the changing world of work. New York: Springer, pp. 1687 - 1698.
  • Bimrose, J. and Barnes, S-A. (2007). Styles of career decision-making. Australian Journal of Career Development, 16(2), pp 20-29. Available from:
  • Bimrose, J. and Barnes, S-A. (2006). Is career guidance effective? Evidence from a longitudinal study in England. Australian Journal of Career Development, 15(2), pp 19-25.
  • Bimrose, J., Brown, A., Barnes, S-A. and Hughes, D.(2011) The role of career adaptability in skills supply. Wath-upon-Dearne: UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Selected reports and policy documents citing IER research:

The research outlined here was underpinned by four research grants from the Department for Education and Skills, EACEA, UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the European FP7. Other research grants relevant to this strand of investigation were from the Skills Funding Agency and the Sector Skills Councils.