Chartered Status for the 'Profession'?
See below or the latest issue of News and Views for NAEGA's Statement and click here for the Strategic Plan for Chartered Status of Career Guidance for submission to the Department for Education and Skills.
A statement by the NAEGA Executive
The Institute of Career Guidance, ICG, has circulated members of FEDPAG and other interested bodies with a Strategic Plan for Chartered Status of Career Guidance. The NAEGA Executive, on learning of ICG's intentions in the summer, expressed their initial concerns both to ICG directly and through FEDPAG. Since then we have received the Strategic Plan, dated 15 August, and the Executive response is summarised below. ICG have indicated that amendments are being made and also their willingness to consult widely on the regulatory process which Chartered Status would require. However NAEGA concerns are about the scheme in principle and we have not therefore commented in full on the operational detail of the plan. The document is the first stage in the process of seeking a Royal Charter, which requires the endorsement of government through the Privy Council. ICG are awaiting a response from the DfES, to inform future action.
Please send your comments on the Executive statement to:
The plan is based on the assumption that 'career guidance practitioners' form a 'distinct qualified professional group'. It refers to a particular group of 'professional career guidance practitioners'with 'unique'skills, knowledge and personal qualities, operating primarily through 1:1 interviews, supported by 'group sessions, assessments and classroom inputs'. There is an expectation that those on the register would hold Level 4 qualifications. Practitioners operating at Level 3 are quoted as having technician status. This initiative is therefore focused on a particular group of practitioners. ICG has operated a voluntary register of career guidance practitioners since 1999. Acceptance on to the register includes a requirement for Level 4 certification. Membership, which is free, stands at around 200. ICG quotes figures of around 3-4000 practitioners holding qualifications at this level in England, Scotland and Wales. NAEGA is described in the Plan as having around 1000 members, most of whom are qualified to S/NVQ Level 3 in guidance or advice and guidance. NAEGA has not been asked for this information, nor is it is accurate. NAEGA membership is characterised by both its breadth and depth. It includes:
This reflects the range and diversity of roles and responsibilities of people delivering information, advice and in depth guidance to adults in a variety of contexts. Such staff will have a range of experiences and qualifications, up to and beyond Level 4, many in advice and guidance, but also in teaching and other related areas. This feature of adult guidance delivery has been recognised during the on-going development of the national standards, now the matrix standard. Training in the appropriate skills and knowledge can be already present or is being incorporated into a number of qualifications at several levels.
Successive national surveys have shown that adults identify employers and learning providers, schools and colleges, as the key providers of guidance. Information, advice and guidance (IAG) are delivered by those for whom it is a main job role and others, for whom it is a part of a related role. An area still needing a great deal of development work is the referral and support relationships between these two groups, even when working in the same organisation.
In our view, the staff working at the cutting edge of adult guidance development today, are those working in the community, employed by a variety of organisations, and in the workplace. Their role is to help individuals develop positive attitudes to learning, help them take the necessary steps to improve their ability to learn and to take responsibility for planning their own lives.
Chartered status could exclude the majority of this group. We believe it could downgrade the importance of high quality information and advice, as well as guidance, as a part of this work and undo the progress that has been made in improving the quality of information, advice and guidance delivery integrated into other roles.
Chartered status appears to be exclusive, rather than inclusive, and could even be considered elitist. The NAEGA Executive consider that moves towards a tiered qualification system could trivialise the experience and qualifications that staff bring with them to IAG roles, from a wide variety of backgrounds.
The Kennedy Report (Kennedy, 1997), on widening participation, noted the importance of integrating guidance into the learning process. This concept has been built into the government agenda on developing a lifelong learning culture, to ensure social inclusion and continuing economic development. The PIU report (PIU, 2002) on workforce development is a clear example.
The quite proper emphasis on the principle of impartiality as a quality indicator for guidance delivery has in the past led to the simplistic belief that guidance could not be delivered by learning providers, who needed to meet recruitment targets, and employers whose priority is the needs of the company. In both cases we now know that impartial guidance can and indeed must, be delivered as an integral part of the curriculum offer, at pre, on course and at transition stages, [Common Inspection Framework, Ofsted/ALI, 2001] and that an employee participating in learning of any kind has a greater capacity to develop new skills as company needs change, [eg.UK Employment Action Plan, Future Skills Wales (National Assembly for Wales, 2002)]. The importance of advice and guidance to stimulate participation in the workforce is exemplified by the work of the TUC learning representatives and most recently in the experience of employers involved in the piloting of matrix. Chartered status does not appear to support these developments, but to reflect an exclusive, and narrow view of guidance delivery that has not served to raise awareness or under-standing of its importance in the past.
NAEGA is aware that ICG is committed to the development of high quality guidance and wishes to raise the profile of those involved in guidance delivery, through appropriate training and support. NAEGA too has such a commitment and welcomes opportunities to support and work with ICG in this context. NAEGA and ICG have developed a joint entitlement statement. However we do not believe that chartered status is a helpful way forward. It not only fails to support, but could actively downgrade the role of staff and the developing infrastructures that deliver advice and guidance within a range of key contexts, most particularly in the workplace, in widening participation and developing a learning culture in the UK. If, as an Association, we are to remain truly client-centred we need to embrace the experience and qualifications that advisors bring with them from a wide variety of backgrounds.
ALI/OFSTED. . The Common Inspection Framework for inspecting post 16 education and training. www.ali.gov.uk
DfES. National Action Plan for Employment. www.esfnews.org.uk
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES, 2002. Future Skills Wales. www.futureskillswales.com/english/business
KENNEDY H (1997) Learning Works: widening participation in FE, FEFC.
PIU (2001) Adult Skills in the Twenty First Century, London, Cabinet Office at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/2001/workforce/report