Scotland's careers strategy: moving forward

Strategy highlighting the role that career education, information, advice and guidance (CIAG) services in Scotland can play in helping to address future skills demands and deliver inclusive growth.

5. Collaborative Working: Target Groups And Career Learning Episodes

The increasingly complex and rapidly changing economy drives the need for education, employability and enterprise leaders, managers and practitioners to come together and collaborate, co-operate and co-ordinate CIAG services more effectively for Scotland’s young people and adults. 

Both career management skills and meta-skills are required by employers to help prepare individuals for the challenges, choices and responsibilities of work and adult life. Students acquiring the skills and behaviours associated with career management, and the world of work, must become one of the major objectives of each learning institution. Often this takes place more on an informal rather than formal basis. Funding and outcomes measures can sometimes act as a barrier to co-design, innovation and collaborative approaches. We are committed to overcoming barriers, building capacity and high quality CIAG resources within and across organisations and agencies in Scotland. 

The role of professionally trained and qualified career advisers delivering high quality, impartial career guidance is a cornerstone of Scotland’s careers sector. Skills Development Scotland work with individuals across Scotland to help them know where and how to find careers resources and support tailored to meet their specific needs. But there are other key influencers who bring differing levels of knowledge, experience and expertise in CIAG. This new strategy provides an opportunity to work more closely on the co-design and co-delivery of services in education, employability and local community settings. There are at least two fundamental requirements to achieve this effectively:

  • To develop personalised services to individuals with different needs and circumstances, while maintaining the principle of providing universal access and entitlement to CIAG services, in accordance with statutory obligations and non-statutory requirements. 
  • To ensure that interventions by careers advisers and other key players are timely, relevant and delivered to achieve positive impact, so that individuals’ talents, aspirations and life chances can be optimised.

Building upon current policies and practices: a springboard for action

Work with parents and/or carers

Young people often identify parents and/or carers as the most significant influencer in their career choices and decisions[19]. A recent International symposium held in Norway[20] highlighted major gaps in provision for CIAG work with parents and carers. This is a useful starting point for organisations and agencies to collaborate on their approach to, and engagement with, this specific target audience. Those delivering CIAG services also recognise that parents and carers may themselves require support to progress and advance their own career, including where they may need to upskill and reskill in response to shifts in the economy and labour market. The My Kid’s Career online platform[21] acts as a powerful vehicle for innovative work with parents and/or carers. This is only one single strand of work with parents/carers – more can be achieved through a multi-agency outreach approach. Also, there is scope to begin career-related learning early in primary schools. 

Work with marginalised and vulnerable groups

CIAG work with marginalised and vulnerable groups cuts across a wide range of agencies’ work. There are many career learning activities that take place in libraries, job centres, high street one-stop-shops, gyms, cafés, community centres and in people’s houses. The co-design of services for vulnerable groups across agencies requires “flexibility and a focus on nurturing relationships. It involves the ability to work with uncertainty and ambiguity across organisational boundaries. These skills include the ability to inspire others into whole-system thinking and recognitions of shared problems” (Ramsden, 2019).[22] Targeted services can achieve more positive outcomes when agencies work more closely together achieve shared goals.

Local support mechanisms for individuals and families to adjust and make successful transitions into new communities are essential. CIAG services can support individual paths to self-sufficiency, better well-being and provide stability by addressing trauma, displacement, mental health, transitional readjustment, or simply opening up access to opportunities, and creating new ones. Each of these services provides a place and space for individuals and/or groups to find their own identity and to gain a sense of hope and optimism for a better future[23].

In British Columbia, a hope-centred approach to working with vulnerable refugees in a multi-agency context demonstrates task-focused and project-based learning can help improve levels of optimism about life and work circumstances. The Hope-Action Theory (HAT) study[24] adopted an experimental design.  Proximal outcomes such as self-efficacy, hope-action competencies, job search clarity, and career adaptability were assessed, and distal outcomes including employment status, job-seeking activities, career growth, hopeful career state, work engagement, and job satisfaction were also assessed. A two-way mixed effects analysis of covariance and a serial mediation analysis demonstrated the programme was effective in developing hope-action competencies, general self-efficacy, and job search clarity. The experimental group participants exhibited higher hopeful career state and work engagement. 

Work with employers 

The role and contribution of employers to this ambitious strategy is of significant importance. While employers have a responsibility to support their employees to develop their career management skills and promote organisational and individual resilience, the role of CIAG services across Scotland is critical in building this responsiveness and adaptability into the workforce. 

Through the Developing the Young Workforce programme, we have been helping employers understand and navigate the education landscape. This strategy shifts the conversation on how to work effectively with employers, towards finding a more joined-up approach that benefits both industry and individuals. Strack et al, (2017) highlight that without “the talented employees who are able to use existing digital technologies and adapt to evolving methods and new approaches, companies will struggle to benefit as they should from the latest advances everything from Industry 4.0 and robots to artificial intelligence, data science, virtual reality, and new digital business models.”[25]

From an early age, multiple encounters with employers in the classroom can help increase young people’s belief that schooling is worthwhile and an important contributor to the achievement of longer-term career goals.[26] Scotland’s regional Developing the Young Workforce groups connect businesses with education and help young people broaden their career aspirations. Marketplace is an online tool connecting schools and colleges with business. Employers register using ‘Our Skillsforce’ and start passing on knowledge of their sector through workshops, talks, workplace visits or placements. There is scope to do more employer engagement co-ordinated activities with partners in primary, secondary, vocational education and training providers, further and higher education institutions. 

Skills Development Scotland continually work to ensure Labour Market Intelligence is more accessible and useable for service users. Labour Market Intelligence is also woven through many existing online resources, with work underway to strengthen Labour Market Intelligence and ensure it is relevant, useful and forward looking to keep up with the fast pace of change. It has become more prominent in helping people understand current employment opportunities, those forecast to grow in the future and the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to adapt and thrive. It also assists employers through helping to reduce skills gaps.

Adult workforce

We need to enhance the support available to the adult workforce, particularly those affected by digital advancements in the workplace. Intrinsic motivations (driven by internalised goals) and extrinsic motivations (subject to social/ contextual influences, such as expectations of reward or consequence) have both been shown to impact on adult workers’ learning behaviour. External factors are identified as motivations to learn, including: opportunity and the extent to which learning is supported/ encouraged by employers; access to and the flexibility of learning provision; quality of training and the effect of positive/ negative learning experiences on future intentions; career motivation and engagement including commitment to their current employer; and social contexts, such as level of peer support and encouragement for learning (Stutz et al, 2019)[27]. Behavioural models such as the Capability Opportunity Motivation Behaviour (COM-B) framework[28] can help determine learning behaviour. Careers professionals in different parts of the system have Career Education, Information, Advice and Guidance resources and toolkits to assess adult engagement in career learning. However, often these are not shared across organisations and professional bodies.

Since 2017-18 the Scottish Government has allocated £10m a year to the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF)[29]. Eligible employers can use the FWDF to address priority skills gaps in their organisation by accessing up to £15,000 in funding to create tailored training programmes with their local college. This has been increased to £20m for the year 2020/21. 

Individual learning accounts (ILAs) have been introduced in several countries, providing individuals with resources they can use to take up further digital (and non-digital) training on their own initiative. By linking training rights to individuals rather than to specific jobs, ILAs are intended for use throughout an individuals’ career, with potential to improve career adaptive responses. In Scotland, in line with the Scottish Government’s Labour Market Strategy, Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) were launched by Skills Development Scotland in October 2017. ITAs are available to help people develop the skills they need for work, giving learners who meet the eligibility criteria up to £200 towards a single training course or training episode per year. The money does not need to be paid back.

In France, all employees are entitled to a ‘career interview’ at least every two years. It allows employees to consider their career development in terms of qualifications and jobs. Every six years, the employer (in enterprises with 50 or more employees) has to produce a written appraisal of all employees’ careers, this document is used to check whether the employee has benefited from sufficient training. The document is sent to the bipartite body in charge of managing the professional training at sectoral level (OPCA); if not, the employee may be credited with additional training hours off work, which will be automatically added by the OPCA to their individual training account. Interviews draw on training passports and compte personnel de formation (free tuition on government approved programmes with paid leave from work worth up to €800 a year to the learner).

As adults become more engaged with the idea of learning (or re-learning) they are likely to require CIAG which provides tangible solutions for situational barriers to encourage uptake, whilst for those already engaged with learning, communication and support should focus on embedding the value of learning to ensure completion and on-going commitment (Stutz et al, 2019)[30]. This requires the co-creation of career learning episodes designed to meet the needs of young people and adults.

In Singapore, government is taking action to extend the working lives of older workers through its re-employment policy and job re-design grants of up to 80% of the project costs or 20,000 Singaporean dollars, whichever is the lower, with an employer able to make multiple submissions. The National Trade Union Congress in Singapore is also taking steps to widen the support to would-be returners including professionals, managers, executives and technicians. Employers also receive a retention bonus if the worker is retained for at least three months after a trial period of six months comes to an end.



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