Employability Symposium

For my project to be a success, I have always felt that it is necessary for me to gain as much knowledge as I can about Careers Information and Guidance services (CIAG) in Scotland, and how they are actually delivered at the point of service. For this very reason, I was delighted to be invited to the employability symposium at UWS Paisley on Friday 22nd May, which was organised by the Careers Guidance and Development department on behalf of their newly graduated careers advisers.

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A number of excellent speakers were at the event. There was representation from the Career Development Institute (Julie-Ann Jamieson, Scottish Chair of the CDI), Higher Education (Lorraine Amies, Careers Consultant, RGU), Further Education (Lisa Hardy, Student Advice and Funding Manager, CoGC), Jobs and Business Glasgow (Nancy Burns, Head of Youth and Learning), Glasgow City Council Education Services (Abigail Kinsella, Principal Officer), Inspiring Futures (Margaret Graham, Regional Director), Skills Development Scotland (Isobel Wilson, Area Manager), and the University of the West of Scotland (Colin Dewar, Careers and Employability Service Team Leader; Carol Vaughan, Information and Administration Co-ordinator).

In addition to the above, there were talks from previous students of the course (Carol Andrews, Glasgow Kelvin College; June Cunningham, Glasgow Caledonian University & the University of Strathclyde; and, Lorraine Wilson, Skills Development Scotland).

The symposium was a tour-de-force in terms of the information and advice it afforded. It showcased the broad variety of roles available to qualified professionals within the sector, and the numerous points of entry for those who are newly qualified. The speakers each relayed their experiences of working in CIAG related roles and what they entail, and advice/tips on the job-seeking and interview process from the perspective of the employer.

One thing that really struck me about the event was the diversity of the career options available to advisers. CIAG sprawls across the public and private sector, operating in schools, independent schools, colleges, universities and as a point of service for the general public across a variety of other organisations and charitable bodies. Despite this, many of these organisations work in partnership, and it seems that there is a genuine cohesion and familiarity amongst those working within the sector in Scotland (CIAG is a ‘small world’, I was told by one of the speakers).

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A key theme, and one which was laced throughout each of the presentations, was the need for careers advisers to network with others in the industry whilst searching for work, and onwards into their career. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter were referenced a number of times as valuable supplementary tools for networking. Particular emphasis was also given to the way in which recruiters now often treat such tools websites as live CVs (and will Google prospective candidates as part of their screening process). As such, delegates at the event were encouraged to:

  • Think about their professional brand (both off-line and online)
  • Create edifying online profiles
  • Cast their net wide and connect with appropriate people
  • Develop relationships with those in the sector
  • Be organised and plan an approach to social media use
  • Set clear goals and utilise networks wherever possible

Additionally, Carol Vaughan delivered a presentation which focused directly on the use of social media by careers advisers: 1. For the benefit of their own careers (in terms of professional development, access to information, and communication of ideas and expertise) and, 2. For helping clients of CIAG with their careers, and by setting a positive example. She noted how the modern careers advisor would actually be letting their client down by not incorporating guidance on social media use into their service provision, and spoke at length about the informational value of LinkedIn and how to create a strong user profile.

Overall, I thought it was a fantastic event. From my own point of view I learned a great deal about CIAG which will hopefully inform my own research work – knowledge I am keen to extend in the future. I also picked up some great advice about the job-search and employment process, and enjoyed the opportunity to network with a number of different people from the sector. The speakers, course convenors and the graduates were all very welcoming and friendly, which speaks volumes for their profession. Undoubtedly I will cross paths with some of them in the near future.

Many thanks to Graham Allan and Janet Moffett for inviting me to the symposium.

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