A gathering of evidence on adult career guidance

15 November 2022 Tom Shirt

Supporting good careers guidance for young people in England has been a focus at Gatsby for some time. Since the publication of the Good Career Guidance Report in 2014, the Gatsby Benchmarks have formed the basis of government policy and have been widely adopted by schools and colleges across the country to improve the careers provision for young people.

However, it is vital that good career guidance isn’t just available to young people. Important career decisions do not stop once someone leaves education at 18, in fact they continue throughout life and have a huge impact on an individual’s wellbeing and prosperity, as well as on their local community and the national economy. It is for that reason we have launched a programme of research to better understand what good practice in adult career guidance (ACG) looks like. We recognise that for adults to make careers decisions that are right for them, they must have access to trusted and effective careers guidance and information.  
In Spring 2022 Gatsby commissioned Pye Tait Consulting to conduct an evidence-gathering exercise that would provide a clear picture of current ACG provision and infrastructure. The aim of this exercise was to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weakness of ACG in England, to identify the key stakeholders and what they provide, to find examples of best practice both in England and internationally. 
A summary of the findings can be read here.  
The findings of the report highlight the complexity of the landscape of adult careers guidance, including numerous disparate organisations. It is evident that better communication and cohesion between these entities will be fundamental to improve the quality and consistency of careers guidance in this country - a point that is reinforced by the ongoing work of the Government’s Unit for Future Skills to provide a single source of information on skills and jobs. 
Understandably, the work of the National Careers Service features heavily in the findings, and they are seen by many as the main strength of the adult careers guidance system in England. However, the report also suggests that the National Careers Service isn’t seen as being universally accessible, with those at risk of losing jobs and/or in search of better careers believing they do not qualify for use of their services. 

The other prominent feature of the report is the vast amount of international good practice reported. From the Federal Employment Agency in Germany to Australia’s work in vocational psychology, there is a plethora of examples to learn from. The diversity in the good practice reported makes it clear is that there is not one right way to create the perfect career guidance system for adults - each is tailored to the needs of that country. The international study we have launched this year is therefore timely and necessary. Working with research organisation SQW, we will be examining practice in several countries to understand how they provide career guidance for adults in more detail. The findings highlighted in this summary will be crucial to informing the direction of our research internationally. 

Alongside our transformative work around technical education and careers guidance for young people, Gatsby believes that adults career guidance is another crucial element to strengthen the economy and drive productivity.  

As such we are excited to start this new area of work. You can find out more about our programme of research into adults here or if you would like to like to hear about the latest developments, please contact Thomas Shirt at