Diversifying the career-development workforce: rectifying the deficit

Project summary

The research student will be required to:

Recent research (Neary and Hanson, 2018; Neary, 2020) identifies that the career-development sector routinely attracts white, middle-aged women seeking a career change. As such, the sector fails to provide clients with a workforce that reflects their lived experience. This homogeneity of the workforce could be perceived as a barrier to recruitment. Employers within the field have identified this as an issue and are concerned about the lack of diversity, including young people and particularly those from BAME communities wanting to enter the profession.

When considering diversity in the workplace, Parker and Roan (2015) refer to the need to achieve a critical mass, which defines the quantity required to start a chain reaction, which would represent a more diverse profession in terms of age, gender and ethnicity. It would be interesting to consider what a critical mass would look like in terms of BAME for the careers sector.

This research would aim to provide a critical lens to examine the opportunities to greater diversify the career-development workforce. It is likely to be a qualitative study which problematises the lack of diversification within the workforce and seeks to identify existing strategies that are currently successfully addressing this issue and how these can be more widely applied.

Research cluster 

International Centre for Guidance Studies

Entry requirements

For our PhD programmes, we normally expect you to have a First or Upper-Second (2:1) honours degree in a relevant subject such as Sociology, Psychology, Education, Organisational Development or Human Resource Management, or qualifications that we consider to be equivalent.

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements 

How to apply

Please contact Dr Siobhan Neary (s.neary@derby.ac.uk) in the first instance

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements 


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.



Neary, S. (2020). Diversifying the careers workforce: opportunities and challenges. Journal for Perspectives of Economic, Political and Social Integration, 25 (2), pp. 65-81. DOI: 10.18290/pepsi-2019-0009

Neary, S. and Hanson, J. (2018) A New Career in Higher Education Careers Work, in Burke, C. and Christie, F. (eds) Understanding Graduate Careers: Research, Policy and Practice in Context, London: Routledge.