What makes a “Good Job” ?

Most of us need to work, if only to obtain money to enable us to live the life we desire. However money is not the only factor in what makes a good job. Indeed many people will talk about the jobs they have enjoyed, or careers they have experienced, without mentioning the money obtained. I though it would be worth balancing out the money focus by looking at the other factors which make up a “good job”, at least according to other people anyway.  One report by the Work Foundation http://www.workfoundation.co.uk/assets/docs/publications/197_good_work_final2.pdf shows the following factors as valued :-

Characteristic of a Good Job  (% as indicated)

Being valued/appreciated (getting credit for the work you do) 16%

Interesting/Fulfilling role/personally rewarding/Job satisfaction 16%

Autonomy/decision making/responsibility/Working conditions/environment (including location) 14%

Team working/staff morale 13%

Good management/management support/Training/staff development 11%

Enjoyable work 11%

Challenging/Variety 9%

Success/doing a good job/ achievement 8%

Meeting the needs of the customer/client 7%

Flexible (inc. working hours) 6%

Promotion prospects/advancement/Participate/contribution to decision making 5%

Skills/ability/equipment/tools to do the job/Other fringe benefits (eg healthcare) 3%

Clear objectives/goals/expectations/Good communication 2%

Another section lists 7 Key things that need to be in place to make up a “good job”

• Employment security;

• Work that is not characterised by monotony and repetition;

• Autonomy and control and task discretion;

• A balance between the efforts workers make and the rewards that they receive;

• Whether the workers have the skills they need to cope with periods of intense pressure;

• Workplace fairness;

• Strong workplace relationships (social capital).

Apart from the employment security aspect, (which is difficult to evaluate in many areas), how many of us consider the other aspects when looking at possible careers ? Something for students to ask when they are talking to anyone about their career and reflecting on whether it would be the right one for them. Of course in terms of job security the best investment is gaining skills, qualifications and knowledge which are in demand.  This can involve lifelong learning and should enable anyone to change careers and explore new areas as they go though life. Adult & Graduate Guidance is key to this success and lifelong learning is already a part of many career areas though continuous professional development (CPD), which can surprise some students !  Indeed some careers demand CPD as proof you can continue to do your job of for continuing professional certification in areas such as Accountancy and Medicine, plus other careers areas which you might not expect, such as local Fire and Rescue Services for example.

Some of these factors may change based on a students age and interests, although getting and keeping a good job is always a challenge, it can be immensely rewarding. Of course it is not always possible to get exactly the job or career any of us want straight away, but as the saying goes “Until you find the work you enjoy, enjoy the work you find”.  As I always say it will help anyone to learn more about what they do want to do and can also help to pay the bills whilst they are searching

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Brief summary and links to Higher Ambitions – Future HE plan for UK

HIGHER AMBITIONS – The future of universities in a knowledge economy

A Brief Summary

Britain still has too few people who have the ability actually going to University. More able but educationally disadvantaged pupils should have recognized fair access routes into University

UK participation rate in HE has gone from 7th in the OECD to 15th since 1998. 75% of UK 2020 workforce have already left school. A percentage of the 6 million UK workers who have Level 3 qualifications but no HE experience should be engaged in Higher Education to raise skill levels.

Increase diversity of HE students through range of access methods to study. More part-time study; vocationally-based foundation degrees; work-based study and more study whilst living at home must be made available.

Clearer routes from apprenticeships to advanced apprenticeships and new technician qualifications into foundation degrees and other vocational higher education programmes should be made.

Growth in HE cannot be met by more 3 year full-time courses and we cannot continue growth of public funding of Universities as we have done

To ensure that all those who have the ability to benefit can get access to higher education there are 4 Key Changes to achieve this:-

1)    We will improve the advice and encouragement that students receive earlier in their education with respect to setting their sights on university.

2)    New university admissions procedures to assess the aptitude and potential to succeed of those from poor backgrounds.

3)    Consider action that could be taken to widen access to highly selective universities for those from under privileged backgrounds.

4)    expand new types of higher education programmes that widen opportunities for flexible study for young people and adults and reflect the reality of the modern working lives.

The Government is committed to the enhancement of locally accessible higher education, through innovative partnerships between universities and further education colleges, and by support for new local higher education centres under the New University Challenge initiative. This could be good news for the Somerset University partnership !

To support universities in making an even bigger contribution to economic recovery and future growth there are 4 Key Changes to achieve this:-

 

5)    Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to devise new funding incentives to develop HE programmes that deliver the higher level skills needed’

6)    Universities, employers, HEFCE and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to join and identify and tackle specific areas where university supply is not meeting demand for key skills. All universities expected to describe how they enhance students’ employability (This information should help students choose courses that offer the greatest returns in terms of graduate opportunity.)

7)    Business expected to be engaged, active partners with universities, not passive customers.

8)    A review into the future of postgraduate provision to be concluded

Need to strengthen the research capacity of our universities, and its translation into economic impact via 3 Key Proposals:

9)    Tighter fiscal constraints and increased competition from other countries will require a greater focus on world-class research and greater recognition of the potential benefits of research concentration in key areas.

10) Establishing strong new incentives to increase the economic and social impact of research.

11) Support stronger long term relationships between business and universities.

 

To promote excellent teaching for all students in HE, with universities competing to attract students on the basis of the excellent service they provide via 2 Key Changes in this area:

 

12) All universities should publish a standard set of information setting out what students can expect in terms of the nature and quality of their programme. (Via unistats as mentioned here: https://headviser.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/which-is-the-best-university-to-study-history-in/)

13) support universities’ work to strengthen the role of the external examiner

To further strengthen the role of universities at the heart of our communities and shared intellectual life, and as one of the key ways in which we engage with the wider world via 3 Proposals

14) Build on the contribution that universities have made, in partnership with Regional Development Agencies and local business, to regional economic development

15) Champion the international standing of our universities (Currently there are 340,000 foreign students in the UK from 239 different countries; the UK is second only to the USA as a destination for such students.)

16) our universities to be world leaders in the growing market in transnational education based on e-learning. (UK higher education to remain a world leader in online learning, and grow its market share by 2015 via university-private sector partnerships)

 

To ensure that our universities continue to maintain excellence, even under tighter public financial constraints

We need to nurture an HE system, responsive to the demands of both undergraduate and postgraduate training, embedded and integrated in a wider education and skills framework and capable of equipping all students with the capabilities and confidence to prosper.

Growth based so heavily on state funding cannot continue, that is why the development of a diverse set of funding streams is important if the quality of higher education is to be maintained and improved. Universities will need to seek out other sources of funding, from overseas sources as well as domestic ones.

Our world class universities are unique national assets, and must be recognised as such. Along with this recognition come reciprocal responsibilities. We need to treat these world class institutions for what they are, and the institutions themselves need to recognise their own obligations to UK undergraduates, in terms of excellent teaching and fair access on merit and potential, regardless of family background.

In future the burden of financing higher education’s diversity of excellence will need to be more equitably shared between employers, the taxpayer, and individuals.

17) A review of the fees structure in English universities will be launched, as promised at the time of the establishment of variable fees for full time undergraduate students in 2004.  The focus of the review will be the objectives of sustaining genuinely world-class institutions and fair access to universities, while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.

A strong university system is essential to a country’s economic success and the vibrancy and depth of its intellectual and cultural life. Universities embody both our values and our aspirations. They play a huge role in our communities through the provision of cultural and sporting amenities and in passing on and preserving a set of

shared societal values, including tolerance, freedom of expression and civic engagement. They shape how we engage with the rest of Europe and the wider world.

Link to Full report below:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/publications/Higher-Ambitions.pdf

 

Link to Summary report below:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/publications/Higher-Ambitions-Summary.pdf

HE opportunities after access courses for Adults

I attended the recent higher education opportunities day for adults who had completed their access courses in Somerset this week. Excellent day with 10 providers of HE attending, Universities such as Bath, Bristol and Plymouth etc plus those FE colleges offering HE, such as Trowbridge College which offers a BSc in Social Work. A good buzz about the day and it was interesting to hear people’s journeys which had taken them to this place. Spoke with prospective HE students from 18 years of age to… well a bit older (!) and it did remind me of the true value of the work we all do.  Got a nice writeup in the local paper which might encourage more adults to explore this as an option. http://www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/news/4709099.Student_boost_from_university_open_day/

Perhaps this type of event could be make into more of an awareness raising event for local communities wherever it takes place. Good to see so many HEIs coming into the community. I do realise many do this but unless you see it yourself it is easy to forget what happens. After the exciting side of choosing possible careers that some HE options might lead to, the big issue was funding and how it might be managed alongside the other circumstances of the students. Hopefully the advice they received from the various attendees  would have helped them to answer these questions.

International Career Resources – from London Met

Following on from my comments previously about the increasing internationalisation of the student body in HE, (and indeed FE), I thought it would be useful to share this site from London Met Uni. Quite nice summary of info and, when used in conjunction with other resources on the net, such as careers europe, gives a good start to this field on international careers guidance particularly for those students returning to their own country. If there are othe resources you are aware of and would like to share please do let me know and we’ll include it on our site. https://intranet.londonmet.ac.uk/studentservices/careers/current/csinternational/international-career-resources/international-career-resources_home.cfm

Building a common career language – from Alberta, Canada

If you’ve ever wondered about how to use the word “career” or what “career development” is really defined as, you now have a tool that can help.  I came across this whilst doing some work on careers recently and thought it was a useful summary to spark comments and ideas. Obviously this is from Canada and so we might feel some aspects should be changed for the UK, but it is food for thought. Particularly in light of the general confusion of “careers” and “careers advice” I’m quite aware that we can all use the same words to mean very different things.  I particularly like the 6 career development terms they have listed down the left hand side. Aspects such as “Community Economic Development” and “Labour Market” are going to be key aspects embedded within the phrase ‘careers’ in the future I feel, especially their values and benefits. Check out  http://www.careerdevelopment.ab.ca/matrix/ for the whole thing !

What to expect from a careers interview – guidelines…

Following on from the previous post, one thing that is clear is how the generic “careers adviser” who gives “careers advice” in a “careers interview” often isn’t anything of the sort.  This can be due to the various people who play the role of advisers from parents, family, teachers and other adults, allied to what actually happened in the session. The summary which goes along the lines of  “I had a computer test when I ticked a few boxes and it told me what to be” does come around time after time.  All of the careers education and guidance work is often not mentioned, or perhaps recognized as such, nor is the fact that no test will tell you want to do. Indeed often these comments seem to refer to the original Jiig-CAL questionnaire which 21 years ago was the bright young thing on the guidance world. An interesting flashback on it from the BBC is here for those too young to remember it J !  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7463561.stm

Of course the fact that Jiig-CAL should have been part of a Careers Education and Guidance (CEG) programme of 8 weeks or so duration is often missed out, indeed it seems that the quick fix of a sheet that would tell you what to do has an enduring power in our society. Perhaps this is where the career of Leela from Futurama as a “career placement officer“would develop from. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turanga_Leela.

Returning to the present is there a need to be explicit on the role of the careers interview and what to expect from it ?  Some universities already do this, Bath http://www.bath.ac.uk/careers/guidance/guidanceprep.pdf has a nice example, as does UWE http://www.uwe.ac.uk/careers/about_us/careers_interview.pdf. to name just two examples. Is the old common understanding of the careers adviser telling people what career to do, (or more often remembered as telling them what they cannot do), still current in our work ?

What to expect from a Careers Interview…

One thing that seems to be endemic in most of the discussion about careers advice is, often without too much qualification, how rubbish it was. Indeed  this can be reported by everyone from cabinet ministers downwards without much argument or moderation. One interesting report on this area of careers was carried out by Edge Hill University in a project funded by HEFCE on how working class undergraduates made their decision. One of the fascinating aspects I found was the session on “Reversing previous experience of Careers”,  as they said in their report “It emerged that contact at school or college had been patchy, and was not always with qualified careers advisers. The workshops enabled staff to de-bunk misconceptions, and explain the differences between university and school careers provision. To enhance students’ perception of a quality service, staff placed greater emphasis on publicising the regional and national awards gained by the Careers Centre.”

The whole report is worth reading http://www.prospectsnet.com/cms/ShowPage/Home_page/Main_Menu___News_and_information/Graduate_Market_Trends_2008/Working_Class_Students__the_Career_Decision_Making_Process_and_Employability__Autumn_08_/p!ebXXXdd and perhaps will be reflected on when the discussion of careers advice again is raised on the political agenda.