The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. together with the Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan T.D. today (Wednesday 24 April) launched the Report of the Independent Review of Career Guidance Tools and Information.
The objective of this review was to examine aspects of career guidance in the Irish education and training system in order to improve the existing career guidance tools and information and to enhance engagement with enterprise.
The report contains 18 recommendations under four themes: improvement in career guidance tools and career information, better engagement with enterprise, inclusion and enhanced governance structures.
The recommendations emphasise the need for evidence-based reform and the involvement of all stakeholders.
Other recommendations in the report include:
- Establish a support organisation with a new approach to guidance services which makes best use of digital and online technology.
- Strengthen and promote a user-friendly centralised careers portal.
- Initiate supports for employers to facilitate career guidance such as visits to industry and schools, guest lectures and quality work experience.
- Provide access for special education and adult learners to the proposed enhanced central career support services, including information on labour market opportunities.
- Promoting inclusion by prioritising the allocation of resources, including guidance teachers for learners most in need of assistance.
In welcoming the report, Minister McHugh said: “The world is changing rapidly and part of our job is to respond to the constantly evolving needs of pupils in schools, students and graduates.
“The role of guidance professionals and counsellors in schools is a challenge - to support young people so that they can fulfil their full potential in life and in work.
“I am committed to ensuring that we prioritise high-quality, relevant career guidance support and the promotion of well-being for all. It is essential that the assistance we provide is valuable, that it prepares people for work and life so that they are equipped to make the choices that are right for them. We want to put people in a position to realise their full potential.
“I would like to thank all those who participated in the steering group of the review for their important contribution.”
Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated: “The choices that young people and people deciding on career changes make can have a huge impact on their future. It is essential that our students and prospective students get access to the very best advice and support to help them with these choices. As Minister of State for Higher Education, I know that both the student experience in college and life after higher education can be enhanced greatly by stakeholders including learners, parents, guidance counsellors and professionals having access to the information they need to support people to make informed choices.
“Listening to the student voice is essential to understanding the needs of our young people and those in our institutions, and I am pleased to note that as part of the review, Indecon had extensive consultation with stakeholders to gather their views on the key issues to be considered. I believe the recommendations in the Review reflect the challenges that exist in the area of career guidance but also provide a framework to ensure that we can tackle these challenges head on.”
Minister Halligan said: “There are many different options across the Irish education and training system that provide a pathway for individuals to pursue a career in their chosen profession. The Review highlights the fact that having access to the best quality career guidance tools and information is a must. I am confident that the recommendations in the Review provide a foundation for promoting engagement amongst all stakeholders, including employers, to ensure that we have a career guidance system with the right tools and information to meet the needs of all concerned.”
In March 2018 The Department of Education and Skills commissioned Indecon International Consultants to carry out a review of career guidance tools and information provision at post-primary level up to further and higher education.
It looked at the quality of information available in relation to career guidance the sources of this information and how the system is organised.
In response to the report, Minister McHugh has acted immediately on one of its key recommendations and announced the establishment of an internal taskforce, chaired initially by the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills, to examine each of the recommendations and develop a prioritised implementation plan.
The taskforce will include senior officials from units within the Department responsible for elements of career guidance. It will consult with key stakeholders as part of its work. Its first task will be to look at the options for the establishment of the support organisation which it is envisaged will, among other things, oversee technology-facilitated guidance services.
The report is published in full on the Department’s website at the following link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/indecon-review-of-career-guidance.pdf
Notes to Editors
The National Skills Strategy 2025 and the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, provide for a career guidance review that would include recommendations on changes to improve the existing career guidance tools and career information for post-primary/further education/higher education students and adults, currently in place across the education and training system in Ireland.
Following a public tendering process Indecon International Consultants were appointed to carry out the review.
Independent Review of Career Guidance Tools and Information: Summary of Recommendations:
Reforms to Governance and Delivery Arrangements
1. Appoint a National Policy Group to develop a coherent, long-term strategy for lifelong career guidance.
2. Ongoing emphasis on evidence-based policy, including through organisation of a biennial stakeholder forum.
3. Establish a support organisation to oversee technology-facilitated guidance services, funded in part from the NTF.
4. Department of Education and Skills to set up an Implementation Task Force to drive the proposed reforms.
5. Integrate a consistent Learner Guidance and Support Service across FET.
Improvement in Career Guidance Tools and Career Information
6. Provide multi-channel, blended career guidance supports, including online tools with telephone and internet access to experienced guidance practitioners.
7. Strengthen and promote a user-friendly centralised careers portal.
8. Allocate specialised guidance practitioners to groups of schools on a regional basis.
9. Invest in providing accessible labour market intelligence.
Enhancement of Enterprise Engagement
10. Implement a programme with the enterprise sector to highlight the benefits to enterprise of participating in career guidance.
11. Initiate supports for employers to facilitate career guidance inputs and quality work experience.
12. Introduce measures to increase participation of students, parents and teachers at an expanded number of regional career fairs/workshops.
13. Widen access to work experience programmes and apprenticeships using online matching services.
14. Encourage co-operation among groups of schools for joint enterprise engagements.
Promotion of Inclusion
15. Introduce a specific module on career guidance as part of training for teachers in special schools.
16. Provide access for special education and adult learners to the proposed enhanced central career support services, including information on labour market opportunities.
17. Provide additional specialised ongoing CPD supports for teachers in special schools.
18. Prioritise resource allocation, including guidance teachers for learners most in need of assistance.
Terms of reference for the Review
- Describe and review existing career guidance tools and career information for post-primary/further education/higher education students and adults, currently in place across the education and training system in Ireland. The review will specifically consider
- Existing policy framework for such tools and information.
- Information sources, including online tools.
- Organisational structures.
- Assess how learners form their opinions around career choice including when, who and what influences these choices.
- Review the quality, quantity and sources of career information available and assess which mechanisms and formats have the greatest impact on students’ and adults’ career choices.
- Outline what measures could be designed and what framework created to enhance enterprise engagement with the education and training system in relation to providing information on career pathways for students and adults.
- Recommend changes to improve the existing career guidance tools and career information for post-primary/further education/higher education students and adults, currently in place across the education and training system in Ireland.
- Review to commence Q 1, 2018; report to be completed and published by end Q 2, 2018
The detailed methodology undertaken for the review included extensive stakeholder engagement, empirical survey evidence with learners and guidance counsellors, an examination of international best practice, a review of existing research, and new econometric modelling of the impact of guidance counselling.
Extensive stakeholder engagement took place over the course of the review and included analysis of 119 submissions from various stakeholders. A National Stakeholder Forum was also held.
The survey research included students and guidance counsellors in second-level, third-level and FET sectors and is based on 1,818 responses from learners and 440 from guidance counsellors.
Bilateral meetings were also held with some key stakeholder organisations to clarify issues arising from their submissions. The research included an analysis of Growing up in Ireland databases which encompassed survey research with 6,216 young people aged between 17 and 18.
Overall, findings suggest Ireland has a number of features of effective careers support systems. However, there are areas which require urgent attention. These include the need to improve career information and advice, including on labour market opportunities and on apprenticeship options. There is also a need for a major initiative to enhance employer engagement and to extend supports for special education schools. Changes to organisational structures are also required. In addition, there is a need to intensify the potential role of Career Guidance in reducing economic and social disadvantage.
Membership of Steering Committee for the Review
Name of Member
Higher Education Authority
Science Foundation Ireland
Quality Qualifications Ireland
Institute of Guidance Counsellors
National Association for Principals and Deputy Principals
National Parents Council Post-Primary
DES – Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit
DES – Skills Planning and Enterprise Engagement Unit
Chair, West Regional Skills Forum