international centre for guidance studies - current research

You can learn more about our current and past project research on this page.  

The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) is a research centre with expertise in career development and widening access. The Centre conducts research, provides consultancy to the career sector, offers a range of CPD, and delivers training for career development professionals and Career Leaders, in addition to doctoral-level study.

The Centre employs a team of researchers and lecturers with a range of academic and professional backgrounds. We work closely with a network of research associates and partners who contribute specialist knowledge and capacity as required. iCeGS has a strong ethos that connects social justice to policy and practices through our research. 

Below is an outline of what we are working on and have completed recently.

Our Current Projects

Nicki Moore at iCeGS is working with a team of researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, to conduct research that will examine current provisions and practices which introduce and develop career-related foundational skills in Canadian children in the age range 9 to 11 years. The project will highlight primary educators' critical and often unrecognised work, including their strategies and interventions to develop these vital skills. Little is currently known about teacher practices in this field, and the professional association for career development practitioners in Canada (CERIC) has identified a need to address this knowledge gap. The project team wishes to establish various policies and classroom practices that facilitate career learning and the experience of the learners who receive such activities.  

The project will run from February 2020 until March 2022 and will use a mixed-methods, multi-phase approach to respond to the research questions. The research will include the geographical, cultural, socioeconomic, rural, suburban and urban diversity essential for a pan-Canadian study. Data will be gathered from educators, parents, and 9-11-year-old learners across Canada and individuals into the broader business and industry communities. Data will be collected in English and French using traditional approaches, such as surveys, interviews and focus groups, in conjunction with innovative methods, including digital technology.  

The project will be relevant for policymakers and practitioners tasked with developing effective interventions to aid the development of these critical foundation career-development skills and knowledge. 

At last week's Cannexus conference on January 6th, Nicki Moore presented initial findings of the research into career development for children across Canada in the age range 9-12 years. A Research Circle approach was used to share information about the CERIC-funded pan-Canadian study which is exploring career development among this age group. The project is led by Dr Lorraine Godden and includes several other Canadian-based research partners and explores what is happening in elementary education across jurisdictions in Canada related to introducing and building career-related foundational skills. In the coming months, it will produce a teacher toolkit to inform classroom practice. Listen to the Research Circle to learn more about the project and opportunities to get involved.  

In partnership with SQW, Professor Siobhan Neary has been supporting the National Careers Service to capture and disseminate best practices. The continuous improvement programme, which includes evaluations of new initiatives, annual reviews, and action learning sets, has helped Primes work collectively to identify common challenges and appropriate solutions. The programme has been supported by an online CPD programme, COACH, consisting of 13 units that focus on practitioner development. The Units are all mapped against the National Occupational Standards in career guidance and development at level 4 and level 6.  

Tom Staunton and Nicki Moore have been delivering on the Careers and Enterprise Company's Career Leaders Training since 2019. Over the past year, this has mainly been delivered online, but we are returning to face-to-face delivery for both our accredited and non-accredited programs this academic year.  One of the positive aspects of the program running for a few years now is that we are increasingly having alumni getting in contact to talk about the positive impact training at iCeGS has had. Alumni have particularly focussed on the confidence to argue for careers provision internally in school's and colleges and to see how to translate theory into practice to transform students' lives. 

The Effective Transitions Project is a two-year pilot looking at how providing long-term targeted peer support and careers education can enable disadvantaged young people to successfully transition into and sustain engagement in quality post-16 destinations, namely education, employment or training.

The project is working with secondary school pupils facing significant barriers to help them prepare for the world of work, this includes people on free school meals, those living in areas of high deprivation and people from low-income families. Following an application process, funding was awarded to 10 Careers Hubs across England, with each Hub using their funding to target different cohorts of disadvantaged young people, including students with special educational needs and disabilities, the 'missing middle', young females, and young black males.

Through the projects, the young people receive careers support through additional sessions with careers advisors, multiple sessions with employers, employer visits, work experience and careers fairs and workshops. The pilot programme is being evaluated by iCeGS, the Institute for Employment Studies and the Behavioural Insights Team.  

iCeGS is working with the Careers & Enterprise Company to evaluate their Teacher Encounter programme. The national pilot programme started in November 2022 and will run for a year.

The aim of the programme is to bring together 1,000 teachers and 200 businesses across England to boost collaboration and improve young people’s career opportunities. Research demonstrates that teachers are a key source of career information to students. However, they do not always possess the necessary knowledge to be able to share more information about the range of future options available to students, such as vocational and apprenticeship pathways. A range of encounters takes place, from face-to-face industry and workplace visits to online subject-specific learning opportunities. The iCeGS team are evaluating the Teacher Encounter pilot programme through the use of pre-and post-activity surveys to gauge the distance travelled by teachers in terms of their awareness of post-16 options, career pathways and the world of work. A survey is also being conducted with employers following the running of their encounter activity to gain insight into their experiences of the programme. The evaluation is running until the end of October 2023.   

Professor Tristram Hooley is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to develop a data-led paper examining the ways in which career guidance can ameliorate social inequalities. The paper begins by tracing the impacts that socio-economic differences, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and migrant status can have on the development of individual’s careers. It is argued that this can be seen on multiple levels, including the likelihood of accessing help and support, attitudinal factors and long-term educational and employment outcomes. The paper then looks at the forms of career guidance that have been deployed across OECD countries to address these inequalities.

The Derby Book Festival Shared Reading Project was established in 2017 to bring together communities to share poems, short stories, and words, with the idea being that shared reading increases well-being and social inclusivity. By providing a safe space for its participants, the Shared Reading Project aims to increase confidence, give an opportunity to discuss and share thoughts and meet new people. The reading sessions are run by dedicated volunteers who facilitate the groups and work to ensure that participants feel comfortable in the environment. 

This piece of research is being undertaken as an impact evaluation, exploring the experiences of participants involved in the Derby Book Festival’s Shared Reading Project and any impact the project has had on individuals. The evaluation is particularly interested in gauging outcomes that have been delivered for participants, including personal enjoyment, social inclusion, self-empowerment and confidence. In doing this, the research will analyse the original objectives of the Shared Reading Project and explore how the findings might inform the further development of the project and the Derby Book Festival. 

Professor Tristram Hooley and Dr Hannah Blake are currently working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to develop a career and livelihood development framework for low- and middle-income countries. The framework builds on iCeGS longstanding interest in career management skills frameworks, which can serve as a curriculum for careers education and a framework for service design and development. The project is innovative because it is seeking to develop this kind of framework for countries which are culturally very different from those that normally deploy career management skills frameworks. In the countries where the ILO focuses its activities such a framework has to support individuals to think about pursuing careers through the informal economy, managing familial and cultural expectations and doing all of this in countries where career guidance services are often very emergent. The framework will hopefully be completed by June 2023 and will then be rolled out to careers practitioners across low- and middle-income countries.

Professor Tristram Hooley, Dr Ghazal Vahidi and Terry Lai have been working with the Institute for Student Employers to explore current practice in the recruitment and development of early career hires. iCeGS is now running the Institute of Student Employers’ annual recruitment and development surveys. These are surveys of employers who recruit young people, typically through either graduate or apprenticeship pathways. The surveys explore the mechanisms through which employers engage, recruit, onboard and develop these early career hires from school to the first five years of employment. They also look at the challenges and pain points in this transition process and make recommendations for employers to improve the way in which they work with this group.

iCeGS has been successful in tendering for a prestigious project to evaluate the World Wildlife Fund-UK's Sustainable Futures Programme (SF).  WWF, the global environmental charity, has recently developed a pioneering career education programme in collaboration with Villiers Park Educational Trust and Founders4Schools. This programme integrates sustainability into its core components, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable world by helping young people explore values-based career decision-making. It also has an important focus on engaging and supporting young people and aims to embed sustainability as a formal component of the UK's careers guidance curriculum to encourage schools, employers, and CEIAG providers to adopt sustainable careers activities, resources, and principles. Nicki Moore, Ghazal Vahidi and Terry Lai will lead the evaluation of this innovative programme, which will commence in May 2023 and run until September 2024. The research will include several data-gathering methods but will also engage young people as co-researchers to develop research tools and approaches, aid with data gathering and in disseminating the findings.

Recently Completed Projects

Further details of our recently completed projects. 

In partnership with the Institute of Employment Research (IER), Professor Siobhan Neary was commissioned by the West of England Combined Authority to map the provision of career education information, advice, and guidance across the region. This research project consisted of interviews with providers and users of services to identify how provision could be better coordinated and enhanced. A CEIAG strategy was developed as an outcome of the project.  

Dr Jill Hanson and Professor Siobhan Neary conducted a process and impact evaluation on the CEC’s Personal Guidance Fund from 2018 until 2020.

The evaluation used a mixed-method approach, making use of primary and secondary data to investigate: 

  1. The effectiveness of different approaches. 
  1. Working with different beneficiary groups. 
  1. The impact of personal guidance on students. 
  1. The impact of training on staff and school/college career guidance. 
  1. Key learning regarding scaling up, sustainability and best practice. 

The sixteen funded programmes worked with disadvantaged young people, special educational needs, learners in years 7-9 and parents. The findings suggested significant learning around careers, labour market information, post-16 and post-18 options and future careers. Young people noted increased confidence in making decisions. In delivering practical guidance, technology, full school integration, preparation, and feedback were especially important. 

The topic of Chartered status has been around for a long while. The Federation of Professional Associations in Guidance (UK) produced a document for the Department for Education and Skills (FedPAG 2001) which outlined the advantages of becoming Chartered. This was not the first time that this had been discussed, and a previous president of the ICG, Terry Collins, raised this in the 1980’s.

There have been many changes over the last few years to the career development sector and the organisations who support those that work in the field. The CDI commissioned the team at iCeGS to undertake scoping research in 2021. This research helped us to understand the processes required to successfully petition, some the enablers and motivators, some of the barriers and detractors, and a realistic time frame

This has been followed by a further commission to explore the perceptions of practitioners and stakeholders. This research sets out to determine:

  • The perceptions of the impact of becoming a Chartered profession.
  • The extent to which practitioners, employers and other stakeholders support Chartership for the career development sector and what are the drivers for this?
  • The extent to which the costs, processes and practices required to secure individual chartership are preferred over the existing processes and practices associated with recognising standards and competencies across current professional organisations.
  • To discover the gaps in the evidence base which are needed to secure a successful petition for Chartered Status for the professional body?
  • Recommendations for the next steps for the Chartered Status project?

The research uses a mixed-methods approach, including

  • A literature review
  • A survey
  • Focus groups
  • Individual interviews.

The findings will be reported in July 2022.

A project team comprising Nicki Moore, Siobhan Neary and Hannah Blake have been working on a three-year project to investigate the crucial impacts on children's career choices. The project is funded through the European Commission, Erasmus programme. The project has been led by colleagues from EKS in the Czech Republic and includes partners from Greece, Spain, and Denmark. The project was conducted in two phases. In the first, our partners undertook research, including through surveys and focus groups with teachers and young people. The teams then conducted research circles to help them to interpret the data. This was a first for this methodology for iCeGS staff, and we enjoyed working with practitioners from all over the country. This was a productive activity that resulted in producing a new outcomes framework to aid parental engagement.  

Following on from this phase, the teams worked together to produce a pan-European handbook for practitioners. The book provides many practical tips to support practitioners in their work. 

The Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance commissioned iCeGS to conduct a research project which complements the Thriving Lives Toolkit research. This research project is divided into two parts. Dr Hannah Blake leads part A, and she is exploring the suitability of their recently launched Thriving Lives Toolkit for use by schools in Wales and Scotland. The toolkit was based on work done in 2018 by iCeGS, predominantly in England, which operates in a different policy context and with different terminology. Surveys, focus groups, and webinars are being used to identify how the Thriving Lives toolkit may need to be tailored for use in these other nations. 

Part B is led by Dr Jill Hanson and explores the impact of using the Thriving Lives Toolkit on schools who have engaged with it since it was launched. Surveys and focus groups are being used to capture how long schools have been working with the toolkit, their progress in implementing the seven principles, and the impact this has had on the school, the staff, the service children, and their families. 

Tom Staunton has been working with the careers company Adviza on developing a new career guidance model. This has aimed to bring together a greater focus on digital technology for delivery following the pandemic as well as making use of the new CDI Career Development Framework to underpin work better. The project has focussed on working with practitioners to develop their understanding of careers delivery before and during the pandemic and develop new ideas for delivery moving forward. This project has brought together fundamental challenges for the sector to deliver careers work both during and after the pandemic, digital technology possibilities, and a greater focus on careers education as a framework.  

Dr Hannah Blake conducted an evaluation of the co-location of Career Connect services in settings across the city of Manchester. In 2018 the Manchester Local Authority NEET Reduction and Prevention project was launched by Manchester City Council, which introduced the co-location of a careers service across five settings in the Local Authority. The evaluation of the co-location model set out to:

1. Evaluate the impact of the co-location model in achieving the aims set out in the research brief and improving the outcomes for young people at risk of becoming classed as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

2. Explore the impact of the co-location model in Youth Justice and the Care Leavers Service, which aimed to improve the numbers of young people moving into a secure Education, Employment or Training (EET) destination. The evaluation found that the co-location model worked well where; 

  • It was well integrated into the setting.  
  • There was good communication between Career Connect and their advisers and the host setting. 
  • The advisers had experience and specialised knowledge in which to deal with SEND requirements. 
  • The work undertaken by Career Connect added value to the existing services within the host setting. 

The evaluation saw opportunities for improvement in settings where; 

  • Roles and responsibilities of individuals were not understood or acknowledged  
  • Space that was safe and private was not available to the Career Connect advisers and the young people.  

Recommendations included: 

  • Stakeholders should work to integrate Career Connect advisers as closely as possible within all host settings 
  • Host setting staff and Career Connect Advisers should have a good understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.  
  • There needs to be increased clarity and improvement in the sharing of data  
  • Career Connect advisers need appropriate space to work in their host setting. If this is not available, then an assessment should be made as to whether the host setting is appropriate. 

Nicki Moore has been working with colleagues in the Kenyan Institute for Career Development to support the development of career guidance across the country. This is still in its early stages of development, but Nicki was excited to present at the first annual KICD conference on ‘Quality in career Guidance: Setting the standard’. The conference has resulted in developing a new qualification for practitioners, which will be starting late in 2021.