Careering through the web

My stay of execution at Vision+Media will be short-lived: I’m supporting their apprentices until the summer, so in the meantime company research, networking and (ugh) applying for jobs the old-fashioned way continues apace. On the research side I’ve been exploring the crossover between digital and careers advice that my current job has created, and in doing so came across ICEGS, the International Centre for Guidance Studies. In short it’s a research and professional training centre for careers advisors, based at the University of Derby. So far so boring, but one of their publications did catch my eye – Careering Through The Web, a paper looking at how wikis, social networks, RSS and the like are influencing how graduates are sourcing career and vocational information and advice. This tickled my interest given past experience using a skinned Moodle VLE to try and deliver mentoring supporting from one media industry mentor to two separate groups from Vision+Media’s Advanced Media Apprenticeship and the Media Foundation Placement Scheme.  I remember my own barriers in using the Moodle – I had hoped our tech partners would use Ning for this specific solution, but Moodle did have a strong set of standard features and endless plugins, not to mention excellent cross-browser compatibility given its’ maturity.

It’s worth a speed-read if this is an area you’re interested in, however I was  disappointed: it rattles through a number of relatively innovative services for job-seekers, such as Wikijobs, but just categorises these things against three broad models of guidance delivery: one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many. It’s main recommendation is that these kind of things are good and should be supported, and that careers advisors should be more digitally literate and competent. I’m not sure a 35-page research piece was needed to tell us this, and if this was a way to foster interest amongst HE careers advisors it’s probably amongst the least effective, in my opinion: a hands-on, interactive workshop where they could get online and try some of these things out for themselves, and, crucially, get into a debate to overcome common objections and concerns about the influence of social tech.

However a research centre’s main aim is usually, uh, research, so it’s too easy a criticism to make. The real problem with this paper is the complete lack of stats: none of the networks and resources identified have been assessed or broken down by user figures, traffic, age, sector or region. So no  insight can be gained on, say, quality versus quantity, and how these tools rack up against established individual advice and guidance delivered in-person, and sometimes guided by nothing more than an A4 pro-forma and some potentially out-of-date knowledge.

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