Using Career Coach to Help Students Navigate Career Pathways

Published on May 18, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

Career Pathways

Weston College is the 11th largest Further Education college in the UK. Judged as Outstanding by Ofsted, the main regulator education inspector in the UK, it offers over 500 courses and 70 apprenticeships to nearly 30,000 learners yearly. The College’s ethos, “careers, not courses,” places the student’s career prospects at the heart of its strategy.

The challenge

After noticing students applying for multiple programmes and not being confident in their career decisions following the advice they had received at school, Weston College installed a four-step journey (research, enrolment, orientation, induction) to help students navigate the labour market, understand their careers’ prospects, and make sure their post-16 programme is going to support them on this journey.

The College needed regional labour market data to paint an accurate and detailed picture of the workforce to their students, helping them discover potential careers, industries, salaries, and skills requirements, and ensuring their courses were aligned with employer and skills demand.

Using Career Coach to improve career guidance

In 2016, Weston College partnered with Lightcast to access Career Coach to improve career guidance for students and review its curriculum. The tool was introduced within both the ‘Research’ stage, where it was integrated into its website and course pages, and the “Orientation” stage as a careers exploration platform to help students better understand the intent of their programmes and what skills they possess that will help them in identifying a career path.

Career Coach provides the College and its students with detailed data on the labour market, such as employer demand, skills requirements, subject areas, and occupations’ growth.

Career Coach provides detailed labour market data, including occupations, median salaries, and education required.

The results

Based on Weston College’s Careers Development and Evaluation Framework, introduced in early 2022, 86% of students felt like the college did a good job helping them navigate career options, and 85.7% felt very confident/confident about their next steps. Furthermore, 93.7% who accessed careers provision rated the service as excellent or good, and the College fulfilled 6 out of the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks

The success of Career Coach has been such that Weston College has now made the tool a mandatory step of the induction process, which is fully digital and built into Moodle. Tutors then discuss the results with learners to make sure they choose the right course - improving retention and ensuring students have a fulfilling career path. Moreover, Career Coach played an important role in Weston College winning the 2022 AoC Beacon Award for Innovation in Careers. 

Commenting on the impacts of Career Coach on career services, Ben Knocks, Assistant Principal for Students at Weston College, said:

“We use Career coach as a retention tool and embed it into other elements of the learner journey. It has been vital in reinforcing our ‘careers, not courses’ strategy,  making sure learners are on their right programme of study, and leave their courses with the knowledge and soft skills that are in demand by employers.”

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