We are still here and working with clients, despite a lack of blog posts! Get in touch if we can help you...
For the last few days we have been working with a group of tradespeople coming to the end of fixed term contracts, providing practical support via a series of workshops. We looked at identifying transferable/soft skills, CVs and application forms, job search techniques and interview techniques. It was delightful working with such a pleasant group of people who were so appreciative of our input: we got top marks in their feedback forms! If you or a group of people in your company would like similar support, get in touch🙂
For a range of useful videos about these subjects, see my Careersdragon playlists on YouTube: m.youtube.com/results?q=careersdragon&sm=1
Does this sound like a description of you?
If you've answered: yes/ maybe then a career in Logistics and Supply Chain Management might be perfect for you...
Logistics and Supply Chain professionals make sure that the right goods are delivered to the right places, at the appropriate time, and all at the best price. It's a bit like organising a massive party, where the start time is 7pm and you have to make sure everything is ready: food ordered/made, drinks lined up, DJ set up with all the equipment etc. You will have to have got the word out to the people you want to invite well ahead of time, organised help to get things set up, booked the caterers maybe, arranged the delivery of the drinks/ food, and replacements if necessary so that things don't run out - and all within a set budget. Logistics & Supply Chain professionals make things move smoothly, and are essential in today's business world. Their work may involve transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring the flow of goods. For more information on careers in logistics and supply chain management, see here
In recent years, the demand for professionally qualified logistics & supply chain professionals has increased, and has resulted in more specific undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses. At a recent UCAS Convention I came across a very upbeat stand of young undergraduates full of the joys of a future brimming over with good things. They were studying for undergraduate degrees in supply chain/ logistics/ business and they were spreading the word about a degree where they are guaranteed a job at the end, as well as getting paid placements during their course, and other benefits associated with courses closely linked to big employers.
They were studying through the NOVUS Trust - a not-for-profit organisation run in association with the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport in the UK, CILT(UK).
From September 2014 they are offering 2 courses in association with the University of Huddersfield:
BA (Hons) in Business with Supply Chain Management:
Typical entry requirements: BBB A level grades, plus evidence of leadership.
BSc (Hons) in Logistics & Supply Chain Management:
Typical entry requirements: ABB A level grades, and evidence of analytical skills.
Both are 4 year sandwich degree courses, developed in partnership with industry, offering:
It is possible to succeed in this area without a degree - relevant experience & personal qualities are enough for some employers. Increasingly however, a degree is becoming the route in to management schemes with larger employers. So few degrees are devoted to logistics and transport that it is possible to apply with a wide range of other subjects, including: business studies, economics, IT, geography, planning, accountancy etc.
So - maybe you should look at careers in this area a bit more!
Further information from:
Wouldn't it be great if you could be notified regularly about any vacancies that would appeal to you? If you could hear the latest news from the company that it would be your dream to work for? If you could find out about local news that might give you a heads-up about a company expanding, or moving into your area, indicating possible new jobs & therefore worthy of a speculative application?
Well you can via Twitter! It's simples!
If you can get your head around Facebook, you can easily deal with Twitter.
First, you don't have to tweet yourself. You can just "follow" the people/organisations that interest you. Getting "followed" is an accolade & will please those that you choose to follow - most will keep a record of their statistics & view their Twitter account followers as potential customers. They will be able to see your Twitter account name & will probably thank you for following them. You don't have to reply.
The tweets of those you follow will be saved to your "Home" page, so you don't have to be watching it every minute. But they can build up, especially if you follow a lot of people/organisations. If you're looking for a job, I'd advise you to make some time every day to go through them.
Who should you follow? Well, if you hold professional qualifications you should definitely follow your professional body. They may have a different account that tweets vacancy information. There will be other organisations that will tweet vacancy information for particular groups, for example Prospects will tweet about information relevant to graduates, Careers Wales information for those in Wales.
If you are interested in vacancies in South Wales, and the South West around Bristol, you should follow ME: https://mobile.twitter.com/jayne_dragons. I tweet about careers information, interesting jobs, labour market information, links to relevant articles in the media, to inspire you to reach your goal.
If you click on the photo of the person or their twitter name, you will see whatever information they choose to share about themselves. Mine reads,
"Qualified Careers Guidance Practitioner & Coach: option choices; university courses; first job; career change. Accredited Morrisby Profile practitioner. South Wales, UK".
You don't have to put anything for your own account, if you choose not to. But if you're going to be using the account for job search, you could put something like, "Psychology Graduate, interested in graduate opportunities in Bristol/ working with people/ uk wide" or whatever...
You will also see 3 pieces of information on each account:
- The number of tweets that person/organisation has made,
- The number of organisations/people that they are following
- The number of organisations/people that are following them
If you click on these numbers, you will see the details of those that are followers or being followed. This means that when you start following people, not only will they be notified by twitter, but others will be able to see that you're following them too. This is good if you want to make it known you're looking for a job!
It also means that if you want to explore other accounts to follow, you can look at who they are following, and follow that account yourself. Some people, like me, keep lists of people that they follow for specific purposes, and these lists can be private, or can be shared with others. For example, if you look at my account, you will see I have a public list of people/organisations that I follow for vacancies. You could go through that list and quickly follow those that would interest you too.
Setting up a Twitter account is easy: https://mobile.twitter.com.
Why don't you get started today? Don't forget to follow me! @jayne_dragons!
It is such a joy to me when a client achieves their goal! The news that has made me so happy is that one of the undergraduates that I've been working with has been offered a graduate job, on a 2 year graduate training programme, with great prospects for the future. She deserves every success too. Her Mum thanked me for my assistance, and told me that it really improved her confidence.
Well, that got me thinking. There are a whole bunch of young people who are either leaving school or university this summer, who would benefit from ongoing intensive support to get a job or training position.
Parents can do this, but I know from experience that being emotionally involved can hinder the process. Parents can be thought to be "nagging", or, if trying to give some space, "not interested". For some, it might be a long time since they have had to complete application forms or prepare a CV.
Although there is help out there for young people from different statutory and voluntary agencies, the trend is to get them to find out things for themselves & register for apprenticeships and job vacancies online. This is ok if they're motivated & full of confidence, but many need to be led and shown the way...
This summer I want to offer a personalised coaching service for a select group of school leavers/ graduates to help them get into their first position.
It will involve careers guidance on a one to one basis, as well as workshops to develop a CV, improve interview skills, & boost confidence. Regular meetings and/or telephone calls to talk about ongoing progress will be important, as will keeping parents involved/ informed as agreed between us.
Young people relate to coaching. They understand it through sports participation, where the aim is to improve performance to reach specific goals, whether as a beginner or an elite athlete. It will be important for their success that they are committed to working with me; I'm happy to discuss this at our initial meeting.
Costs would be based on our regular prices, but will be arranged on an individual pro-rata basis. See our prices here.
Do get in touch if you, or your son/daughter would like to be part of this select group this summer!
Like a lot of people these days, I struggle to find gifts for the people who seem to have everything. Trying to think of a gift that would add to their happiness, without adding to the burden of "stuff" which loads our daily lives, needs to be dusted, and looked after. My solution on these occasions has often been a treat, a moment in time that will leave a pleasant lasting memory.
What could leave a better memory than an experience that could empower your Mum to change her life for the better, and to re-evaluate what she wants from it?
Whilst helping Mumsnet contributors in the "Going Back To Work" threads, it has become obvious to me that there are a lot of Mums out there who are standing unhappily at a crossroads, needing signposting on their next step. They may have taken time out of the workplace, to take on caring roles at home, or have chosen to work in jobs that suited their caring responsibilities because the jobs were local/ part-time/ paid well. In these situations, the likelihood is that these Mums have put the needs of others before their own aspirations, or have had to make compromises along the way. When these women come to a point where they can take a new direction, they want to know what can they do now? There may be a career idea that has always appealed, and they want to know how to get into it; they may not think they have any skills that they can use in paid employment; they may not know what direction would make them happy & fulfilled. In all these situations, a Career Coach/ Guidance Adviser can help them to rediscover their true selves.
Whether it is a focussed conversation for an hour, discussing where your Mum is now and where she would like to be in say 5 years, or a detailed psychometric assessment of potential abilities followed by an in-depth feedback and guidance session, Dragon Career Associates would be delighted to make your Mum’s “Empowerment Gift Experience” one that she will remember, and that will make a difference to her.
See our prices here.
It seems that more & more schools are going down the route of choosing options in Year 8 which gives the students more time to work towards good grades. However, it does mean that they are committing themselves earlier to certain paths, especially as GCSEs are often required as a precursor for A level subjects. It is certainly something that has caused a lot of discussion on Mumsnet talk threads recently! Parents want to know where they can get information and advice. The answer to this will depend a great deal on where you are in the UK, and what public services provide.
Online, there are 2 general careers websites where you can find information on choosing options and careers:
The important principle is to keep as many career routes open as possible, so choose a balanced range of subjects. If capable of coping with it, I would advise choosing triple science, as separate subjects. This means that if a decision to study a science subject at A level is made, the step up from GCSE won't be quite as difficult.
There is still some snob value about certain subjects being valued more than others, which becomes more prevalent at A level. The A level subjects which the elite Russell Group of universities value as being "facilitating" subjects are:
As a Careers Adviser, I strongly advise allowing students to choose subjects that they enjoy, which fortunately are often the ones that they're best at. This would include allowing really academic students to choose subjects for pure pleasure - like Art, Graphics, Design and Technology (e.g. Resistant Materials, Graphic Design, Textiles, and Food Technology), Media Studies etc. Yes, the Russell Group may not value these subjects at A level, but at GCSE, it really isn't a big deal so long as they also have a strong range of traditional subjects alongside.
Sometimes the discussion is concerned about the amount of homework that would be involved in choosing more practical subjects, and whether this would be to the detriment of their other subjects. Personally, I think that education is about developing the whole person and if a student is interested in something, then it should be pursued. It may even develop a talent that they want to use later on.
I'm conscious that a lot of MumsNet discussions focus on the very academic and high aspiring pupils. For those who aren't, the same principle applies - they should go with the subjects that they enjoy and that they're best at. The subjects which are essential are English & Maths, with Science coming a close third. As for the rest, they could all lead on to Level 3 qualifications, either at school, college or in the workplace, and even on to Higher Education at university. Lots of graduates from red-brick or ex-poly universities go on to graduate jobs - not least because many of the degrees offered there are vocational and highly valued by many employers.
As an alternative to GCSEs, BTEC First Certificates have been offered in some schools. These are often very attractive to pupils with a wide range of abilities. They have interesting titles like, "Animal Care", "Child Care", "Engineering" and so on. They are all practical subjects, primarily assessed via coursework (although I believe that the new courses have an exam too), with hopefully some work experience as a part of the course. Although the recommendation is that these courses are for all pupils, not just those deemed "non academic", there is a health warning that I would give them. In my experience, the courses are often timetabled in school such that they may not fit with academic streams. In general, I think that the same comments apply as those I give (above) regarding choosing subjects for pleasure. A balance should be kept regarding the proportion of a timetable allotted to BTEC courses. If it is only equivalent to the time allotted to 1 GCSE in a students timetable, then even the most academic student could choose it as an option without it narrowing their options. If it is equivalent to 4 GCSEs in the student's timetable then there is less room for academic subjects.
If students or their parents would like advice on which would be good subjects for them, ask to see your school's Careers Adviser.
In Wales, Careers Wales will have a presence in most schools, although face-to-face guidance is only offered to those in most need.
In England, responsibility for providing impartial careers guidance has fallen to the schools where, hopefully they will have employed a qualified professional.
If you're not satisfied with the service provided by the school, it is possible to see a Careers Adviser privately. Look at the professional register of the Career Development Institute (CDI) to find a qualified professional in your area. Even better, if you're in the South Wales/ South West, contact us!
The quote above comes from a delightful book by Benjamin Hoff called, "The Tao of Pooh". It describes a philosophical approach to life, using the characters from A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, and it has been both enlightening and amusing to read.
For me, it describes the state that so many of my clients are in when they seek help. They know that they have to make a big decision that could affect the course of their lives, but they are befuddled and don't know where to start. Sometimes a client will seek information in the expectation that it will help them to reach a decision, and sometimes it does - if their question is straightforward. But there is so much information out there (not all of it reliable), the accumulation of which can end up confusing matters even more. In addition, how information is applied to each person can be different, because we are all individuals.
The starting point of counselling of any sort, including careers counselling, is the client. It is a rare thing for anyone to have the space to talk about themselves, without fear of judgement, in daily life. Talking about what they like and dislike doing; what they think and feel about x or y; what is important to them; what they think they're good at, and why; what they think they're rubbish at, and why; their decision making style & what works for them etc. In career counselling, we help the client to find out about their true selves by "holding up a mirror" so that they can see the essence of their decision and a reflection of what they really think about it. Along the way, the counsellor helps to clarify a client's thoughts by asking questions, pointing out inconsistencies and possible blind spots, other interpretations of past events, and by pulling together threads that summarise what the client is saying. All of this, to frame the client's decision, and for them to be able to see the whole picture. This is the basis on which effective careers guidance depends.
From here, the path forward can be viewed more clearly.
Well, she messaged me last night to say that she's been offered an interview in January! She ended with:
"Wouldn't have done it without you. Thank you so very much :-)"
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out for her. As for me, I'm beaming... I just love my job!!
I'm aware that many students are at the point of having to decide on their Level 3 options in the next few weeks, with many school deadlines being this side of the Christmas holidays. Being a regular contributor to the Mumsnet threads concerning Secondary Education, it seems that there's still a lot of confusion about which are the best A levels to choose, and.... who should choose them! Although parents are rightly concerned about the "best" subjects for their children to take, they should bear in mind that pushing them either towards or away from, certain subject combinations can be counterproductive. No matter how much parents wish little Jonny be brilliant at sciences so that he will become a doctor, if he hates science it ain't gonna happen! Worse, if he is persuaded to select the science subjects by his parents/teachers, he might forgo other subjects where his results could have been outstanding...
So, my advice here is addressed to YOU, the Year 11 pupil about to select your subject choices...
First, let me say that the best Level 3 course, whether it is A levels, or the BTEC Extended Diploma, is the one that best suits you. If you can choose subject(s) that interest you; that motivate you to work hard, to read around the subject and to achieve the best grades that you can, then those are probably the best subjects for you to choose.
There are some provisos however...
You need specific A level subjects for some degree courses or careers
This is especially the case where a bank of subject knowledge is required to cope with the degree course.
So, for engineering courses/careers it is usually a requirement to have Maths (and often Further Maths) as well as Physics at A level. For Medicine and Veterinary Science, most universities ask for Chemistry & a second science, usually Biology. Interestingly, it is not necessary to take 3 sciences and Maths for these courses!
The Russell Group of universities, which includes most of the high status universities, have produced a useful guide which itemises the different subject requirements for different degrees at their universities, and this has just been up-dated. See: http://russellgroup.org/InformedChoices-latest.pdf
Bear in mind that universities each have their own views on subject requirements, and universities outside the Russell Group have less stringent subject and grade requirements.
Employers too, will often specify certain A level subjects, where a bank of prior knowledge is required: a typical example would be Maths & Physics for many engineering apprenticeships.
Sometimes employers don't specify particular subjects, but may ask for xxx UCAS points eg three B+ grades.
If you know what you want to study at university, or if you know what career you want to enter longer-term, then you should look at the subject entry requirements for the specific course that you want to apply for. You will find all degree courses and their entry requirements listed on www.ucas.com.
What if the A level subjects required are not suitable for me?
You should take advice from a Careers Adviser, or discuss the issue with a university's Admissions Tutor - there may be alternative subjects that would be acceptable for that specific degree course, or similar careers that you could consider without those specific subject requirements. You should also check similar courses and their entry requirements, as they can vary quite considerably, on www.ucas.com.
No clear career plans yet?
That's fine. A levels were designed to keep a number of career routes open, with each subject leading to a number of different degrees. If you choose subjects that you enjoy, this should lead onto degree courses that you will also enjoy.
There are also complementary packages of subjects that keep a larger number of career routes open, including, for example: Biology with Chemistry, Maths with Physics, English & History.
Are there subjects that shouldn't be taken together?
Yes. Some subjects are deemed to be too similar e.g. Business Studies and Economics.
What about "soft" subjects?
There is undoubtedly some "snob" value about some A level subjects being worth more than others - these being the "facilitating subjects" listed by the Russell Group of universities (see link above).
So where does that leave more practical subjects like Media Studies, Art & Design, or Business Studies? Well, if you are academically high achieving & you plan to apply to Russell group universities, then I would advise you to avoid choosing more than one practical subject, unless it is directly relevant to the degree that you're applying for, e.g. Journalism, and is backed up by two or three facilitating subjects like English.
Remember that other universities view all A level subjects equally! See www.ucas.com to search for courses & look at different entry requirements.
General Studies, and Critical Thinking A levels are often not given any credit at all, so should be seen as added extra subjects.
What about the Welsh Baccalaureate?
This is an additional qualification, offered alongside other subjects, like A levels, in Wales. It encompasses a core of 5 elements, including work-related education and an individual investigation, and is designed to allow students to include experiential learning both in and out of school/ college as well as academic study.
In theory, the Welsh Bacc is worth 120 UCAS points (the equivalent of one A grade at A level). In reality, universities can decide for themselves how many points they will accord it, and it can be less than 120 points. From this year, the Welsh Bacc will be graded, and anything better than a C grade will be awarded 120 UCAS points.
At a conference last week on the future of Welsh qualifications, top universities were asked whether students should choose 3 or 4 A2 subjects to study alongside the Welsh Baccalaureate. The answer was rather vague, in that it depends on the student and his/her abilities. In theory, for most students, the answer is that 3 subjects alongside the Welsh Bacc will be enough. The exception is with Further Maths A level. For many science, engineering and technological subjects Maths and Further Maths, alongside Physics is preferred - so taking 4 subjects at A2 level is ideal.
What about level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma courses?
BTEC courses are less well known, and are often "looked down upon" by people who know very little about them. They are vocational, career-related courses, mostly offered by colleges of Further Education although some schools may offer one or two BTECs in their 6th form. Typical subjects are: Business, Childcare & Education, Animal Care & Management, IT Practitioners (with pathways in e.g. Software Development or User Support), Art & Design, Graphic Design, Sport, Health & Social Care, Engineering etc.
They usually take 2 years to complete, and form an entire timetable, so it is seldom possible to combine them with A levels. The courses are very practical, with work-related assignments & projects completed through a series of modules. There are no exams. They are, in theory, equivalent to 3 A levels, and if Distinctions are achieved, would be the equivalent of 360 UCAS points, which is the same as 3 A grades at A level.
They can be used to enter relevant Higher Education courses, even at the Russell group, although very high grades would be required.
It is worth knowing, that even if you struggle to do well in academic GCSEs, and achieve C grades in only four subjects, you could still go on to achieve the highest of grades through the BTEC route because it has a different learning style. To check whether the degree subject that interests you accepts BTEC qualifications, see www.ucas.com; search for your subject and look at the Entry Requirements section.
Even without high BTEC grades, it is possible to go on to study Higher National Diploma (HND), or Foundation Degree courses at university, which can usually be "topped up" to an Honours degree afterwards, so there is always a route through Higher Education for you, if you want it.
In many ways, BTEC courses are more highly valued than A levels, by employers who recruit students at 18 - the courses are career & workplace related, so BTEC students are useful to employers straight away. A student from the BTEC Extended Diploma in IT, would have spent 2 years studying nothing but IT-related content & could apply for an IT technician post straight after their course. The same applies to many other BTEC courses and technician level vacancies.
GCSE grades matter!
Hard as it may be to hear this if you are about to sit GCSE exams this year - these exams really matter! Increasingly, universities are using GCSE grades to distinguish between candidates, and are specifying certain GCSE grades for their degree courses. So work hard this year and get the best grades you can!
If you don't achieve a minimum of a C grade in English and Maths, I would advise you to retake these subject(s) in Year 12 and Year 13, if necessary, until a C grade is achieved.
Make the most of your time in the 6th Form!
Whether it is employment or university that is of most interest at the end of the 6th form, chances of success will be enhanced if you can show that you have some work experience, especially if it is relevant. Quite often there will some time set aside during your studies to do this, but weekend or holiday jobs can be just as useful to show that you can manage your time, and that you're hard-working.
Voluntary work, scouts, charity fund-raising, orchestras/other musical groups, school council involvement etc - are ways that you can show your individuality and impress future employers and universities alike.
• Actively CHOOSE the Level 3 courses you plan to study, don't just "drift" into whatever is easiest, or accept the subjects that your parents/ teachers have chosen for you.
• Make sure that you have chosen the required subjects for your career/ degree interest. See www.ucas.com to look at entry requirements.
• Take advice about the subjects & courses that might best suit you. Speak to the staff in school and your Careers Adviser, either in school, by phone or online.
• Find out about all the courses that might interest you that are within travelling distance.
In England, look at: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/courses/Pages/default.aspx
In Wales, look at: http://www2.careerswales.com/coursesinwales/default.asp
• Visit a number of 6th forms or colleges so that you can compare courses/ facilities/ ethos' etc. - they will all have Open Days, or can arrange individual visits.
• Apply in good time - many schools have application deadlines.
Oh dear, where to start....? Well, the Wikipedia definition states:
Career counselling, career guidance and career coaching are similar in nature to other types of counselling or coaching, e.g. marriage or psychological counselling.
What unites all types of professional counselling is the role of practitioners, who combine giving advice on their topic of expertise with counselling techniques that support clients in making complex decisions and facing difficult situations.
The focus of career counselling is generally on issues such as career exploration, career change, personal career development and other career related issues.
So, careers guidance is predominantly counselling; helping clients to explore career issues that affect them either immediately, or in planning for their future. What it isn't, or shouldn't be:
And yet, so often Careers Guidance is blamed for the lack of young people wanting to be engineers, or the imbalance between the available jobs in the economy and the career aspirations of young people. Why do politicians and others think that Careers Advisers should tell their clients what to do, and that their clients would obey?
The real root of the problem is lack of careers education and labour market information - not only by young people, but by their parents and inner social circle too. They rely on what they know, and what people around them know. This perpetuates families doing the same kinds of work, whether it is for example in the Construction Trades, or in Medicine, or in knowing how to manage the system as an unemployed person. It means that some families don't have the connections to know how to get graduate sons or daughters into graduate employment -particularly difficult in the current economic climate. As the word spreads that having a degree is no guarantee of a good job, their wider social circle gets put off going to university too. The public services try to widen people's knowledge of careers and labour market information through their excellent websites: www.careerswales.com and www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk but it is quite rare that people I interview have gone to the websites and done any research on their career interests before they see me.
I'm not sure if I have answered the question, "So what IS Careers Guidance & Coaching?" entirely. Maybe I've just been for a ramble around the question - it is a massive area to cover!
Does anyone have anything else to add, or to disagree with me about?