Good Careers Education and Guidance Can Prepare Health and Social Care Learners – Tracy Walters

The article below is intended for health and social care professionals who are working with learners, undertaking a health and social care programme and considering careers in this sector. The purpose of the article is to enable educators to understand the factors affecting careers education and guidance and to consider the implications this may have on their practice.

Just like the earth rotating on its axis, the world of work is in a continuous spin. Now, more than ever before, educators have a moral responsibility to ensure health and social care learners are prepared for a world characterised by a career revolution. Health and social care work environments hardly bear any resemblance to that of a few decades ago; career patterns are changing to accommodate the potential disruptive impact of social and digital advancements and global connectivity. Employment opportunities in health and social care are vast, ranging from careers in youth and community work, and therapies to child protection and medical professions. Frankly, there are too many to name, so, if we are to truly prepare learners for 2030 and beyond, then strategic career management requires new ways of thinking.

The need for good careers education and guidance for learners considering health and social care professions, has never been more palpable; learners are facing an ever increasing complex maze of global options; the demand for health and social care services is and will continue to be in extraordinary demand. This means learners are entitled to access qualified and gifted careers professionals who are in the sector to enable learners to reach their potential; personally, socially and economically. Achieving this requires resilience, passion, a creative drive like no other and an uncompromising belief that every single learner’s ability needs to be extended beyond their current attainment. Good careers education and guidance in the FE and skills sector can, should and must enable this to happen.

Global economic austerity over the past few years has meant that reduced access to careers guidance services has impacted upon career education considerably and we are seeing growing evidence that young people are ill prepared for a their working lives. Having said that, things are starting to change.

The recent Careers Strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents (December 2017) recognises that if we want to create a stronger, fairer society in which people from any background can fulfil their potential for a global economy, then, quite simply, careers services themselves must equally be world class.

Why is careers education and guidance so critical?

Just like relying on satellite navigation to get around the earth, good careers guidance is like the satellite navigation for the world of work; done well, it will help inspire learners towards progression and will enable them to make informed decisions whenever choices or a change of route is open to them. Accurate career guidance helps them to understand enough about the world of work to know what skills they need to succeed. Consistent and standardised career education is important for social mobility because it helps open their eyes to careers they may not have even considered.

Good careers provision starts early and allows learners to explore ideas, before making any potentially life changing decisions. Its purpose is to help individuals focus on their own choices, resolve issues and make informed decisions, so that, ultimately they will not just be prepared for, but also thrive in their world of work.

So how do we prepare learners for the changing health and social career sector?

In the UK, secondary schools and colleges have a statutory responsibility to ensure that their learners can access personalised career guidance. Let’s stress that bit again, they must ensure this is ‘personalised’. Why? Because this places the needs of a young person at the centre and will enable them to be their own career author. Without this fundamental value in place, we risk setting learners off on roads that are simply not right for them. The strategy therefore adopts a set of eight benchmarks in place that set a standard of excellence; these were developed by the Gatsby Foundation to support schools in this quest, and, if committed to, will set apart both learners and their schools as being a superlative careers education and guidance provider.

 A stable careers careers programme

Every school and college should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance that is known and understood by pupils, parents, teachers, governors and employers.

Learning from career and labour market information

Every pupil, and their parents, should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information

Addressing the needs of each pupil

Pupils have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each pupil. A school’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.

Linking curriculum learning to careers

All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths

Encounters with employers and employees

Every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through a range of enrichment activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.

Experiences of workplaces

Every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks

Encounters with further and higher education

All pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace

Personal guidance

Every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career adviser, who could be internal (a member of school staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level. These should be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made. They should be expected for all pupils but should be timed to meet their individual needs.


Ask yourself some questions – are you ready for a change in the focus of careers education and guidance?

How many of these benchmarks are you achieving in your centre?

Can you provide evidence that your learners are dynamically prepared for the world of health and social care professions?

If your answers are genuinely ‘no’ or ‘partly’ then now is the time for a call to action. Let’s prepare our learners for the world of work with the tools they need to succeed.

Tracy Walters is an experienced and qualified Careers Advisor, working with Careerwave to support schools, sixth forms and colleges to make sure that their learners get the best impartial advice to set them on the right path or the future. You can find out more about the services that Careerwave offer on their website, or by following them on Twitter at @careerwaveuk

This article was first featured in CACHE Alumni, the Professional Membership network for CACHE Qualified Practitioners. To find out more about CACHE Alumni, please visit our homepage at or contact us at [email protected]