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High quality career guidance contributes to positive tertiary education outcomes!

There is considerable international research relating to high quality career guidance contributing to positive tertiary education outcomes. For example the British National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) conducted longitudinal study of 14,666 adolescents. It highlighted the importance of career exploration skills and noted that “Within the surveyed cohort, young people with a high level of such skills were the least likely to switch courses or drop-out of courses” (The Case for Careers Education and Guidance, NFER 2004)

It went on to state that “Through the use of ICT, there is far more accessible information on courses, training and careers than at any time in the past. However, NFER’s research has shown that, without mediation such information can be at best confusing and at worst completely misleading” (page 7).

The research paper Pathways to Prosperity  (Harvard Graduate School of Education,February 2011) makes the point that “Students drop out of high school and college for many reasons … but a major reason is that too many can’t see clear, transparent connection between their program of study and tangible opportunities in the labor market” (www.gse.harvard.edu/news_events/features/2011/Pathways_to_Prosperity_Feb2011.pdf)

A recent British research report noted that improving career guidance before students apply to university significantly cuts dropout rates. “According to a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills research paper that followed almost 106,000 students who applied to university in 2005-06, those who consulted only a few sources of advice when picking their degree course were far more likely to drop out by the end of their first year. (www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/better-careers-guidance-will-reduce-dropout-rates/2012155.article)

Meanwhile the Australian Federal Government’s paper National Career Development Strategy (DEEWR, 2013 page 2) notes that “All Australians need the knowledge and skills to manage their own futures and access information to decide how best to achieve this … Access to high quality career services will assist individuals to do this efficiently and effectively”.

Why have I become Career Voyage Trainer and Representative?

I have used Career Voyage (developed by JIIG-CAL Australia) for over 15 years with school students, young adults, mature adults, career changers, clients with disabilities, long term unemployed, women returning to the workforce etc.  It provides a quick, effective and accurate discussion starter both for clients who “have no idea”, for those who have very diverse careers which they are considering, and also for those who have quite firm views about pursuing one particular occupation (and who might benefit from having some back up options).

One of the unique benefits of Career Voyage is the ability to tailor the level at which clients use the software, for example if your client is planning, or already has a higher education qualification, they would complete Career Voyage at that level.  The tasks and vocabulary are carefully designed for each level. For example would you like/dislike to “Study the effects of pollutants on the environment” is designed for upper academic levels.  Conversely, if your client has limited desire or ability to gain any training, as an Adviser you could suggest a non-academic level, for example would you like/dislike to “Load and unload trucks”, or “Visit people who need help at home”.  Outcomes, including personal profiles and job suggestions also are provided at the appropriate Level of education and training (both current and intended).  In all, there are five levels which the client can choose in collaboration with her/his career practitioner.

Clients can check individualised pros and cons for jobs in their Job Suggestion list – again a great discussion starter.   Also, if the client finds that a job they were expecting to appear hasn’t come up in the list, they can check what the score would be for that job, and the pros and cons for them.  A recent example is a client who was thinking of becoming a surveyor as he loved maths, but that particular job didn’t appear in his Job Suggestion list.  When investigated we found that he had indicated he didn’t like the idea of moving around day-to-day. Again a great discussion starter.

As the software is web-based, clients are able to access reports and investigate further (for example a school student may wish to go through the Job Suggestions list with their parents, and look at the pros and cons for the jobs they are considering).

Advisers receive training in how to use the software effectively, for example if Career Voyage indicates there may be inconsistencies, or a tendency to dislike many tasks, the Adviser will be able to assist the client, so that the process is effective and positive.  You can also manage client records, configure the software, create and print reports for individuals or groups.

The software is very sophisticated, and has been developed and repeatedly tested for reliability and validity over 30 years.  By the job suggestions stage over 100,000 calculations are made for every individual to produce the twenty most suitable occupations based on how s/he has responded through the carefully crafted program. Acknowledging that career planning is not a one-time event, users can come back and log in to their account any number of times, review results, and interactively work with the career practitioner.

Costs are very affordable, from non-expiring individual logins ($12/client – great for individual practitioners) down to around $4/client if your organisation needs an annual licence with more than 400 logins.

The software is regularly reviewed for reliability and relevance, taking into account changes in the labour market and emerging occupations. Labour market details are cross checked with all available information on at least an annual basis.  The software has been adapted for use in New Zealand, Malaysia and India.

Virginia Gare

Careers Counsellor
Career Voyage SA Representative & Accredited Trainer

Career Voyage JobFile

Once at the Job Suggestions stage, Career Voyage users are able to access our occupational information database (held within our regularly updated JobFile). They can do this in a variety of ways, eg checking details associated with their personalised list of 20 (or 40) Job Suggestions, accessing “Explore Other Jobs”, “Similar Jobs”,” Pros & Cons” and “Notepad”.

What’s in and what’s out?

The creation of occupational information is not always a precise science. There are nevertheless some guiding principles. Here are some important issues which which our researchers bear in mind when updating JobFile.

(i)   Information needs to be reliable, accurate and up-to-date. It also needs to be clear, unambiguous, and at reading levels matching Career Voyage Levels of education and training.

(ii)  We are providing guidance for career seekers: people who are developing goals and plans to progress their career prospects. Learning about jobs with close to zero employment opportunities is not very helpful, so they rarely make the cut.

(iii) Likewise to make it into the JobFile an occupation needs to be coherent, reasonably well defined and a bit different from other occupations. In general we try to give users a reasonable spread of Job Suggestions. Not twenty minor variations of the same thing!

(iv) There needs to be a balance in the amount of information. Not too lengthy or overwhelming, but providing enough detail for career seekers to make good decisions. (Once career seekers have developed their career plans and suitable occupations have been identified, there are plenty of Internet job research opportunities available.)

(v)  Post-graduate specialities generally don’t figure large in the JobFile. Take post-graduate medical specialities for example: before specialising it is necessary to complete many years of general medical education and training. These years of general training expose students to the specialities, and to more than enough experience for wise decision-making.

(vi) Disappearing occupations are discarded. Typist is an example (for those of us who can remember such an occupation).

(vii)   Bearing in mind that many Career Voyage users are still at impressionable ages, Jobs of dubious moral or ethical standing are not included (even though our team is very liberal minded J ).

We attempt to keep articles brief and to the point. If you would like more information on this topic, or if you have any suggestions, please feel free to contact bob@jiig-cal.com.au.

Case Study – Churchlands Senior High School, WA


Churchlands Senior High School is a public school in Western Australia that is consistently rated in the Top 5 government schools.

Every person’s career journey is different. Some young people have their path mapped out from an early age (sometimes by their parents) but others have little idea as to what that path may look like. For these young people (and their parents) this may lead to anxiety and lack of direction as they approach their Senior School Years or as they transition to the post school world.

No ‘Career Matching’ tool is perfect, but at Churchlands Senior High School we use Career Voyage as a stimulus for discussion.a starting point for an adventure into the mind boggling world of career choice, course selection and goal setting for the future. For some the program provides a confirmation that the path that they had been contemplating ‘matches’ their way of thinking. For others it may be an opportunity to consider career options that they may not have otherwise thought about. Sometimes the results also make it clear that the student has not yet matured enough to really know that they want.and that is OK.

Students have the opportunity to access the program both at school and from home. Year 10 students use the results to complete Career Investigations as part of their transition to the Senior School and to help them with their course selections. Students in other years may use it to instigate a discussion with the Career Advisor or some research into career pathways. Being able to access the accounts of students that complete the program is a significant advantage to the Career Advisor.

We encourage students to sit down with their parents to discuss their results. At a time when decision making can be a stress for the parent/child relationship, the completion of the Career Voyage Program may act as a starting point for conversation and an opportunity for students to discuss what career path they may like to follow which is sometimes different to the path their parents thought they might take or expect them to take.

Combined with opportunities to visit our annual Career Expo, participate in one to one Career Counselling sessions and to listen to successful students talk about their own career journey in High School, the Career Voyage program is a very useful resource for the Career Advisors tool box.

Clare Slodecki
Career Adviser
Churchlands Senior High School

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