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 fa├žade 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. 


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