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 !

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Subject Choice and how it can affect earnings…

As we progress through this academic year I’m finding some questions have a familiar ring to them. Not so much from students as from their parents…or indeed other adults with an interest in HE. Basically this refers to the fact that some subjects provide a better change of earning money that others, and that not all subjects are the same in terms of helping you get the famed “Graduate Job” with matching salary.  In its bluntest form this can relate to old issues of Arts subjects verses Science subjects, which is an incredible simplification of a complex area anyway. I believe this is probably related to the BBC post of several years ago which mentioned research showing that ‘A degree in an arts subject reduces average earnings to below those of someone who leaves school with just A-levels, a study shows.’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2823717.stm  Although this was from several years ago it obviously made an impact. Fuller information can be obtained from the governments own stats website. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=7431&More=Y  Of course this data can often throw up more questions than answers and we all know of exceptions to the rule, or reasons why the apparent failure to earn the ‘big money’ can be a rational choice by the student. However with all the talk about costs and debt, especially set against the recession we are currently experiencing I don’t think this sort of questioning will be going away anytime soon.  More current stats will be hampered by the fact that the economy which students are entering is very different that the one the data refers to. Watch this space I feel

Why do we need a Blog on HE ?

When this was planned some people have asked, why do we need a blog about HE. What is the deal about HE anyway? Don’t we have too many graduates already taking the wrong courses ?    Perhaps I’ll begin with a bit of background. For several years now the need to have higher level skills/degrees to compete in the world economy has been identified by various government reports and private bodies, such as the CBI. Those jobs that will be around in 2020 will be requiring higher skills, and those jobs with lower skill demands will be fewer in number. Skills that were once seen as technical and only used by a few, such as those within Information Communications Technology (ICT) are now mainstream. According to the Leitch report,http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/furthereducation/uploads/documents/2006-12%20LeitchReview1.pdf By 2020 more that 40% of jobs could be filled by graduates, currently this stands at about 30%.

You can also gain a degree whilst working, combining the experience, (and money!), of a job whilst getting a qualifications. Some companies are offering this, such as Flybe at Exeter, Tesco and McDonalds Restaurants. I’ve also attended a ceremony at Yeovilton of graduates of a Royal Navy initiative which provided a foundation degree as part of their study package see the BBC news coverage here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/somerset/7122014.stm

If you think this sounds a bit like an apprenticeship, yet it’s on an HE blog, then you are quite right. Words like Higher Level Skills, Foundation degrees, and NVQ 4 and 5 are all part of the drive to upskill our workforce and make Britain a positive economic country in Europe and beyond. As I go through I’ll be looking in such areas in more depth, but if you have any questions about Higher Education why not email me? If it’s an interesting question it might even be answered (anonymously if you wish) on this blog.