8 October 2020

Addressing unconscious bias and white privilege in career guidance practice (English language text)

I have made an English language translation  available of this article written by Uuganaa Ramsay and I, which was commissioned by Skills Norway and published on 28 August 2020. You can access it here.  The original article remains online and is available in Norwegian here.

21 August 2020

Current work on unconscious bias and white privilege in career guidance practice

This month will see the publication (in translation) of an article I have written in collaboration with Uuganaa Ramsay, on the importance of addressing unconscious bias and white privilege in career guidance practice, for Skills Norway.

In addition we will be delivering a webinar on this topic on 27th August, for the same organisation. 

We will be sharing our work more widely in coming months. Students on the Postgraduate Diploma in Career Guidance and Development at UWS can also look forward to seeing more in relation to race-aware career practice in their learning this year, as we focus on what we can do as a sector to address racism in our society. 

24 July 2020

News: Appointment as external examiner for the MA in Career Guidance and Development University of Huddersfield

5 June 2020

New OERs relevant to career development training and practice

Thanks to some excellent suggestions from students who have recently completed their Career Development Institute Qualification in Career Development professional reports with us at UWS, I've been able to add 5 new OERs to my list of Open Educational Resources for Career Development and CareerDevelopment Professionals. This takes the total to 27 free, open, online resources for you and your clients!

Many thanks to Pritpal Kalsi, Laurence Hansen, Elsa Olaru and Cliona McMenamin for their contributions!

28 April 2020

New Portals for OERs

Long overdue, in my opinion, but our national skills and careers services in the UK have launched new portals that collate and promote OERs for skills development.

Skills Development Scotland have launched a Free Online Courses portal: https://www.myworldofwork.co.uk/learn-and-train/find-free-online-courses

The National Careers Service (England) has launched The Skills Toolkit: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/the-skills-toolkit

If you are a career development professional and you complete any courses that you find useful for your self or for your clients, let me know and I will add to the OERs for Career Development page on my website (if they aren't already listed there!).

Note that as I am based in the UK, I post resources that are UK-orientated. Some of the courses listed via the portals above may be targeted at a non-UK audience, so always try them out before recommending!

24 April 2020

More news: UWS MSc Career Guidance and Development Re-validated

News: Appointment as external examiner for the MA in Careers Education and Coaching at the University of Derby

15 April 2020

UWS MSc Career Guidance and Development: programme approach

I have recorded a video presentation that gives an overview of how we deliver the MSc Career Guidance and Development at the University of the West of Scotland. This is adapted from a "Learning and Teaching Dialogue" I delivered for the university previously.

You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqx21kBARhM

12 April 2020

CDI Student Conference England 2020:Keynote Speech

This year's CDI Student Conference England has been moved online, due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place across the UK, and globally. I hope all followers of my blog/website are keeping healthy and well at this challenging time.

I have recorded a video commentary of my keynote, which addresses the topic of unconscious bias for career development professionals. This will shortly be made available on the CDI website at the page linked above and is also available  directly via Loom, at: https://www.loom.com/share/6ffdd9c459e74ff4bbfab6203d47c360

Keynote Title Slide
Title slide for keynote

19 March 2020

The value of career information advice and guidance in a crisis

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been discussing the possible impact of COVID19 restrictions with those working in our sector, colleagues and fellow careers-researchers. We know that what we are facing at a local, national and global level will have a huge impact on all of our careers – in our working, learning and personal lives.

What we are going through right now will bring huge changes to the work we do and the way we do it. It may change how we value certain roles. It may mean the things we planned to do with our lives change drastically. There will be people who feel the immediate impacts of the coronavirus restrictions far more acutely than others.

More widely we need to consider the impact of the current situation on those around us. This is not a competition as to who is in most peril or which group is “entitled” to most help. Every situation is different. We must support others.  Work is a huge part of our lives. Work is money, and so much more. Work is what we build our lives around, and the loss of work or an unplanned change to work is a huge transition for any individual.

Chat about supermarket supplies and not being able to go to the cinema anymore are diversions from the reality around us right now: people are scared they may lose not only their livelihood but their passion, their vocation.

Those of us with stability and flexibility in secure work can likely work from home and our work, in the grand scheme of things, has required little more than minor, if temporarily inconvenient, adjustments. We are very, very lucky in this respect, regardless of what other challenges we might be facing. I reiterate, this is not a contest; behind the façade of having control over our work we might have many other personal challenges to consider: our own health, the health of those close to us.

Check on your friends. They might not have vocalised their worries to anyone. Ask them how they are coping, how they are being affected. We will need the support of others, personally and professionally.

But remember too that career information, advice and guidance services are not just for young people. This is a perception we need to change. Universities and colleges’ careers advisers and careers consultants offer bespoke advice to students and in our networks, we are responding with access to the very latest information. Schools' careers advisers undertake targetted work with pupils throughout their school years. But there are also publicly and privately funded services out there for adults.

Qualified careers advisers will be able to signpost appropriate other services, mental health organisations, welfare support. Here in Scotland we have Skills Development Scotland, and free to access for all adults is a national network of professional careers advisers who will have the latest information on opportunities and support available. We are lucky to have this service. Please promote it to others to use in the coming, challenging, months ahead. Alongside this, private practitioners offer a wealth of services across the UK. You can find your nearest one using the CDI register of professionals

Take care of yourselves, and access those who can support you through what is going to be a difficult period for us all. 

31 January 2020

Domestic abuse and career guidance practice

At this week's Career Guidance and Development CPD Conference Scotland, I presented, for the first time, my work to date on domestic abuse and career guidance practice.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who, despite it being the last workshop of the day, stayed to fill the room and engage with the topic. I think this demonstrates how permeating this topic is. As I said in my presentation 1-in-4 people will encounter domestic abuse in their lifetime, this includes all of us, practitioners and clients alike.

The slides I used are available at the link below and include links to sources of support here in Scotland: https://thecdi.net/write/Events/Presentations/Scottish%20CPD/2020_Workshop_Emma_Bolger.pdf

Domestic abuse can affect anyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other characteristic or background demographics and to see a diverse audience in attendance was heartening. The discussion was loud! I don’t think I have ever observed a conference workshop so eager to discuss a topic. So many of the discussion points relate to the nature of our roles as careers professionals, as a possible first point of disclosure and the importance knowing where and how to access support. The group raised some new considerations that can be added to the focus group findings in relation to example approaches in the workplace and created some new partnerships for me to explore as I continue with this important work.

24 January 2020

Career Guidance and Development CPD Conference Scotland - Wednesday 29 January 2020

We will be hosting the Career Guidance and Development CPD Conference Scotland at UWS next week, and as ever have been focusing on accessibility, inclusion and thoughtful design as we plan and deliver this new format conference.

The event builds on and amalgamates the CDI Student Conference Scotland with the UWS/ENU/SDS Research Symposium and in addition offers a broad CPD opportunity for selected practitioners in the sector in Scotland.

This conference is designed to highlight the latest developments in the sector and is presented by a range of expert keynote speakers and workshop presenters all of whom are leaders in their field. The keynotes and workshops are focused on issues of equality, diversity and inclusion in the careers sector. The final version of the conference programme is available here (note that workshop rooms will be advised on the day).

Our audience will be students undertaking postgraduate studies in career guidance and development in Scotland, selected staff from Skills Development Scotland and invited guests from across the careers sector in Scotland. The event is free for delegates to attend. 

We could easily have filled this event twice over, and have accommodated as many invited guests as possible. But as a pilot, please do not be offended if you were not invited or your organisation was offered limited spaces and please do access the keynote and workshop presentations which are publicly available (see link below). We hope to be able to replicate this event in future years, with an even larger in-person audience.

Our aim here at UWS has been to host a sustainable conference. Delegates are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles (water stations available) and to have a copy of the conference programme on a mobile device. The final version of the conference programme is available here.

Our partners from the CDI will be bringing packs for delegates, but otherwise handouts will not be used. Electronic copies of presentations are available via the CDI website if for accessibility delegates wish to download in advance [link].

I will be delivering two workshops on the day:

Dementia in the Workplace: the implications for career development practice (with Dr Louise Ritchie, Lecturer in Dementia (Research), Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University of the West of Scotland)
Dementia is, and will increasingly be, a workplace issue. At present, many individuals leave the workplace before, or on receipt of, a diagnosis of dementia. More attention needs to be given to supporting employees with dementia to either remain in work or exit the workplace, and career development practice has a key role in this. We consider the role of careers practitioners in the development and implementation of coping strategies to aid the continued employment of persons with dementia. When continued employment is not possible, the role of careers practitioners in the range of decisions, which extend beyond the cessation of work, is considered.

Domestic abuse and career guidance practice (I will be joined by one of our current students who has provided research support for this project whilst on placement with the CGD team at UWS)
‘Building Equality’, a project run by Scottish Women’s Aid, worked to challenge economic discrimination and develop effective models to improve and protect the economic independence of women experiencing domestic abuse. The learning from this is now being used to develop best practice approaches for clients experiencing domestic abuse.  The workshop will enable career professionals to challenge their own perceptions, understand how domestic abuse affects an individual’s career decision-making and develop new competencies in how they can manage their own practice when working with clients in this group.

On behalf of all partners involved in bringing this event to fruition, I hope everyone enjoys the day and finds it an enriching and engaging CPD event. 

13 January 2020

OERs for Career Development and Career Development Professionals

A particularly flexible and valuable form of ongoing CPD is to undertake learning via Open Educational Resources, or OERs. These are free or 'open' online learning resources. Popular OER sites include: 

I provide a list of relevant OERs to students on the UWS MSc Career Guidance and Development programme but it makes sense to present an expanded and contextualised list publicly. In this blog post, you will find a list of currently available resources, and a brief description of why each is useful and relevant to our field. If you have completed any of these OERs or others as part of your flexible work related learning, please post your feedback in the comments section of this post. If there are other OERs you recommend, please contact me and I will add them to the Resources page on this website.

OpenLearn: Thinking about how I work with other professionals
Note that while this course focuses on early years practitioners, the underpinning principles of inter-professional working it covers apply to the work of a careers professional. After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • examine practices in relation to working with other professionals in order to make the underpinning knowledge, values and beliefs explicit
  • use a variety of ‘tools’ to examine the knowledge, values and beliefs underpinning a practice
  • identify contradictions between an underpinning knowledge, values and beliefs and a practice
  • identify any requirements for development of a practice and reconsider the underpinning values and beliefs in relation to any work with other professionals
  • identify constraints within a setting that impact on the ways of working with other professionals
(A course you might wish to recommend to clients - if you do, it's wise to complete it yourself first, to see what it covers)
After studying this course, you should be able to: 
  • identify the strengths of resilient people and recognise which of these strengths you have already
  • recognise how the need for resilience varies in different occupational sectors
  • understand changing trends in the world of work
  • identify tactics for goal setting and overcoming setbacks
  • work with a model for career resilience and develop personal resources.

(A course you might wish to recommend to clients - if you do, it's wise to complete it yourself first, to see what it covers)
After completing this course you will be able to:
  • reflect on your interests and values and how these are relevant to your career choice
  • understand the value of your networks in career planning
  • develop the skills to write strong job applications and CVs
  • recognise different interview situations and questions, and know how to approach these
  • produce a realistic personal action plan

OpenLearn: Careers education and guidance
Note that this England-focused course refers directly to the now (mainly) defunct Connexions services, however the broader principles still stand. After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • understand the rationale for careers education and guidance (CEG) and young people's need for it
  • understand your school's statutory responsibilities for CEG and its links with Connexions
  • understand the basic knowledge and skills needed to help students access careers information and guidance;
  • understand the school's CEG programme and the confidence to carry out your role in it

OpenLearn/Education Scotland: An introduction to inclusive education
This module has been developed by Education Scotland to provide educational practitioners and local authorities with free professional learning resources which focus on an introduction to Inclusion and equality within Scottish education. The module content is very relevant for all educational practitioners and also supports teachers to meet the required general Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) standards for Professional Learning, annual reviews and Professional Update.

Learn about autism, a complex and challenging long-term condition for many individuals and their families worldwide, and an aspect of human diversity to others. This free course, Understanding autism, introduces the autism spectrum, how it is experienced by different individuals and families, and why it is a global concern. The course explains how ideas about autism have evolved and explores diagnosis, causes, intervention and life-span development. Widely varying perspectives on autism are illustrated and key societal and cross-cultural issues highlighted.

Understand more about autism, including diagnosis, the autistic spectrum and life with autism, with this online course.

FutureLearn: How to Succeed at Writing Applications
(A course you might wish to recommend to clients - if you do, it's wise to complete it yourself first, to see what it covers)
A free three week course from the University of Sheffield, to help participants produce a perfect CV, application and online profile when applying for a job or course.

FutureLearn: How to Succeed at Interviews
(A course you might wish to recommend to clients - if you do, it's wise to complete it yourself first, to see what it covers)

FutureLearn: Understanding the GDPR
While you will be required to undertake training in the GDPR in relation to your employment, you might also find this MOOC helpful. By developing good knowledge of the GDPR and understanding how it will affect you, you will learn about the first steps for making your organisation compliant and can immediately start taking them. You will explore data subjects’ rights, data controllers’ and processors’ obligations, and enforcement and compliance notions in the context of the Regulation.

FutureLearn: Caring for Vulnerable Children (University of Strathclyde)
In times of austerity and shrinking public services, the task of identifying and caring for vulnerable children has never been more challenging. In this free online course, we’ll help you explore some of the issues involved in undertaking this task.

EmployID: The changing world of work
While this MOOC has completed, the resources are still available as public and Open educational Resources (OERs).

ACAS: Learning Online
Learning OnLine offers a range of online courses and resources for individuals and different sizes of employers. I recommend the following courses:
  • Disability Discrimination and Reasonable Adjustments
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Flexible Working
  • Handling Redundancy
  • Mental Health Awareness for Employers
  • Shared Parental Leave
  • Work Options When Preparing for Retirement

Online learning modules from the National Guidance Research Forum on Labour Market Information
Three Online Learning modules developed to support the continuing professional development of those working in careers education, information, advice and guidance in their understanding and use of labour market information and intelligence.