From education to employment

Continuing our series on careers, Sue Baker and Kiran Rami from the Careers Service at Uxbridge Col

Uxbridge College Careers Service works in partnership with Connexions and Nextstep London West to provide impartial and confidential advice and guidance to young people and adults.

Clients are offered support in the following: –

·Looking for another course at Uxbridge College or elsewhere including progressing to Higher Education.

·Writing personal statements for university applications.

·Information on finding and applying for work.

·Producing CV’s and covering letters.

·Career change or development.

Besides one-to-one appointments, advisers visit courses to give group presentations on all aspects of choosing and applying for Higher education. Increasingly we are delivering the service via group work, rather then one-to one work. Also we are currently looking at developing e-guidance and telephone guidance.

Pre entry work is undertaken in local schools and the local community. This may be providing an information stand at a Careers evening or giving group presentations on Further Education options. Other work is also carried out with organisations such as Surestart, YMCA or special projects with employers such as Train to Gain.

Day to day work will vary according to the time of the year, for example in the first term we are mainly concentrating on UCAS applications, pre-entry enrolment guidance, and students changing courses. Also induction for new students

After Christmas we concentrate on progression guidance, mainly for Level 1 and Level 2 students moving on to the next level and in the third term we go over HE options for year 1 level 3 students, as well as offering job search and pre-entry guidance for applicants to the college.

In addition to the above we also delivery services in the community, to employers, Train to Gain students, and attend external marketing events such as year 11 parents evening etc.

Adult guidance services

As a general rule, adults do not have the range of service open to them compared to the16-19 year olds. Funding criteria plays a large part in this. However, at Uxbridge College, we currently offer adults access to our full range of services, including limited evening appointments. So for those people working in the day time it can be difficult to find a suitable slot.

Overall there is lot of help for 16-18 year olds, even if they don”t need it! Connexions will follow up all school leavers and the College Guidance Service will see individuals who are leaving the course early. College is also required to send details of all 16-18 year old early leavers to Connexions, in a bid to reduce the number of NEETs.

Adults on the other hand need to search out help, if they need it. Service for adults is fragmented and delivered by rang of providers with varying degree of expertise. Uxbridge College is currently able to offer a high level of service to all adults, however things will change in the future, with more college adult funding coming via employers and the advent of the Adult Guidance Service.

A group of learners who are disadvantaged and need guidance is ESOL learners and recent arrivals. While in some cases they need to learn English in the first place, their learning needs to be put on context of their career goal, rather then an isolated learning. We get a large number of ESOL learners who say they are fed up learning English and want to move on.

Challenges of the Job

Enabling clients to move forward gives job satisfaction, especially when a client has reached their goal and returns to thank you. FE is challenging and enjoyable because you just don”t know who is going to walk in the door today. The variety of clients means your skills are tested everyday to the maximum. FE is still the last bastion of sharing good practice amongst professionals without being charged for it. How long will this last?

The most frustrating thing about the job however is the ever changing criteria for funding! We do sometimes find ourselves in Catch 22 situations. It’s very frustrating not being able to find a learning opportunity for adults due to funding.

The role Connexions plays

Connexions make a positive contribution in providing 14-19 yr olds with the support they need. Connexions in the college runs a professional service, but they are tied to targets. They provide a specialist service for young people who are on the edge of dropping out. Connexions play a vital role in ensuring that young people, in schools, and their parents and guardians get impartial advice and guidance. This is important for the college.

The only difficulties with Connexions is that their staff turnover is high and the experience of the advisers varies considerably. With the local authority playing a bigger role in planning young people services, including Connexions, no doubt there will be structural changes. The influence of the school lobby will be interesting, since the competition for 16-18 year olds will increase with the advent of the Diplomas and funding changes in school 6th forms.

Kiran Rami, Head of Information and Guidance, and Sue Baker, Careers Guidance Adviser, Uxbridge College

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