By Sarfraz Ahmed, Careers Adviser at Leicester College
In recent months, throughout the challenges posed by local lockdowns and top tier restrictions, Leicester College’s Careers team has proven itself to be a robust service.
By offering a remote service from March 2020, there have been significant improvements in the way that the Careers team has supported students, the wider community and schools.
The main improvements to the service include a quicker response to student enquires and in a way that suits them. This has allowed students to interact with the adviser using an array of means with which many are already familiar. The result has been that the client can access careers advice more easily as the referral process is much quicker, and issues and concerns can be dealt with in a shorter time period.
There are also less ‘no shows’ as queries are dealt with in a specific time frame and responded to by a preferred means, whether this be by telephone, email or through Microsoft Teams, which has allowed ‘face-to-face’ interviews to take place in a way that is convenient for the client. By delivering careers guidance in this way, the service has ensured that health and safety remains a priority and clients do not have to leave their homes to access careers advice.
Overcoming the challenges
Since lockdown, the Careers team has developed a series of innovative ways of working, which have been evidenced through feedback from students, parents and staff at Leicester College, and from external providers. The Careers team has been actively providing a remote provision that has embraced technology and new ways of working to deliver a service to the general public and student population.
Using traditional methods of working with students, providing a face-to-face service was not possible during the coronavirus pandemic. The Leicester College careers advisers have adapted their service offer by developing an online enquiry form, accessible to all via the Leicester College website.
Far-reaching benefits of new approach
The Careers Team receives a submission via email and can respond through the client’s preferred means; telephone, email, or a video chat using Microsoft Teams.
This new virtual approach has had a major impact and far-reaching benefits including:
• A more accessible service, through the use of a wider range of mediums
• A quicker response time and a more productive team
• Positive feedback from students, staff and partner organisations
• Far fewer ‘no-shows’ as the student accessibility increased
• Increase in parental engagement through telephone and video chat
Careers Service and job vacancies site on Moodle
Recently, the Careers Service has created a new section on the Leicester College student portal, Moodle to provide access to up-to-date careers information and job vacancies. This includes job vacancies, apprenticeship information, higher education information, options information and support for students with an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP), as well as access to up-to date information on the labour market, and a wealth of resources and careers videos.
The Careers team has also created and adapted presentations that are accessible to curriculum staff and students, which support the careers education programme, in line with the Gatsby Benchmarks. Curriculum staff have already accessed recorded presentations on topics such as UCAS and Applying to Higher Education, Writing an Effective Personal Statement and How to Complete the UCAS Form Correctly.
This way of working has already proven to be successful as students can play back the video as many times as they wish, thus resulting in fewer mistakes to their overall UCAS application. The Careers team has also developed digital activities in which students can participate to check their understanding. The Careers team also offers live Q&A sessions following recorded group work activities which learning coaches and their students say have been beneficial. The presentations can also be uploaded for ease of access to platforms such as Moodle.
Joint working with Marketing department
Since March 2020, the Careers service has worked with the College’s Marketing department to support its virtual live stream offer. The Careers team has also been proactive in working with Marketing to deliver 13 live streams to date with an audience reach of thousands. These included providing a series of live streams available across digital platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram, with topics ranging from ‘making effective choices’, to ‘being more productive during lockdown’ and ‘how to find work in a global pandemic’.
Leicester College has delivered a series of live streams on careers and many other topics during the lockdown. Live streams are available publicly to be viewed at a later time and date that suits the individual. The viewing figures are increasing with views totalling over 3,000. The potential of reaching a wider audience has been proven through participating in 13 live streams to date. The College, in turn, has benefitted from an increase in the number of parents and students that have accessed information about Leicester College through live streams.
The Careers team provides advice and assistance to students and staff to allow them to participate and achieve at Leicester College and has adapted its service to be more efficient, accessible and responsive to the needs of the organisation. It has moved away from the traditional 1:1 and group work delivery model, and has now been actively involved in providing a remote service that works well in the new normal for both the adviser and client.
• Leicester College Careers team is looking to sustain its service in the future as it believes that it is responsive to the needs of students and staff by adapting the provision to meet their needs in the midst of a national pandemic
• Successfully showing innovation supporting students, through making their service more accessible with a quicker response time to answer queries
• Engaging in more parental engagement as it was able to conduct part of the guidance process by telephone or on Microsoft Teams. This was important when working with students with additional needs or those requiring third-party representations such as a social worker
• Using technology to support innovation in the way that it delivers group works, (recording these and making these available to staff and students) and participating in live streams
• Considering a blended approach, so introducing some face-to-face interventions alongside the remote/virtual services
Impact on staff and students
The Careers team has supported more students as they became more productive. Over the enrolment period, it responded to 567 enquires, an increase of 21% on last year. Since March 2020 to date, the Careers team has responded to 2,050 enquires and delivered 13 live streams with an audience reach of thousands
The evidence further underlines and highlights how the College Careers team has transformed, in a relatively short space of time, from a largely face-to-face service to a remote service that is highly accessible and responsive to the needs to the students and community that it serves.
Examples of feedback
‘Great chatting with you, you are a credit to your employees and the students – I hope to stay in touch with you’. Foster Mum
‘Just a quick message to show my total gratitude and thanks for getting……a position at Trans4m. He has started and let me know he’s enjoying it already. Without your help we wouldn’t have gotten him a place anywhere’.
‘You are an absolute star for doing this; please do let me know if there is anything I can do in return. More than happy to do a write up on your services and share across my social media and anywhere else in general. I would like to keep you posted on my journey and let you know where I end up if that is ok with you. Have an amazing day and thank you once again’.
Kate O’Farrell, WQE……………….Via a telephone call, Kate wanted to thank us for how quick and responsive we had all been to her various queries leading up to enrolment, she said the service had been excellent.
‘I have been wanting to send you and the team a thank you email. Your three presentation videos for UCAS applications have been fantastic support for my students applying to University this year. Your time and effort is appreciated. The videos have been a great support’. (Learning Coach, Sports)