Good Career Guidance for Adults

Adults in England deserve a high-quality careers guidance system to help them navigate the ever-changing world of work. Our aim is to assist in improving and simplifying the guidance available to adults in this country, we recognise that in order for an adult to make better quality careers decisions they must have access to a trusted and effective career guidance infrastructure.

To date most of Gatsby’s work in careers has focused on young people, but of course career decisions do not stop once someone leaves education at 18. They are taken throughout our lives and are crucial not only to our own wellbeing and prosperity, but also to that of our local community and national economy. We see career guidance for adults as a key means of tackling unemployment, underemployment and addressing the skills misalignment in this country.  
We have therefore launched a programme of research to better understand what good career guidance for adults looks like. This programme of research includes the development of a typology of adult career guidance needs, followed by an analysis of the current landscape of adult career guidance in England and an international study to identify examples of best practice globally. 

Understanding the landscape in England

To help us better understand the current context in England, we worked with an independent research organisation, Pye Tait, to launch a market research exercise. We were keen to hear from individuals, organisations or field experts that work with adults at any age, at any stage of their career, or in any situation. The exercise yielded a rich stream of information and feedback, which can be found in this summary.

Typology of adult careers guidance needs

To analyse the supply of career guidance for adults, it is necessary to understand the needs of the adult population, who form a very diverse group. To better understand this diversity, Gatsby commissioned Chris Percy to create a typology of adult career guidance needs to inform policymaking around career guidance infrastructure design and closely associated provision (such as training).

The typology consists of a list of groups that might benefit from career guidance and includes example descriptions of individuals who are representative of those groups (personas). The typology also gives an understanding of the number of people in each group and how those numbers are evolving over time. A high-level picture of the core elements of central government support currently provided by DWP and DFE completes the typology. 

An executive summary can be found here. 

The accompanying data pack can be found here.

International study

In the summer of 2022 we commissioned SQW to conduct an international research project designed to get a better understanding of what ‘good’ looks like by comparing the current system in England against international best practice of Adult Career Guidance.

The project has four aims: 

  • To gain a better understanding of what ‘good’ looks like in adult career guidance.  
  • To provide a baseline of underpinning evidence on which Gatsby can build any future activities in adult career guidance.  
  • To assist in improving and simplifying the guidance available to adults by providing a set of standards or good practice guidelines for the sector. 
  • To provide a baseline of underpinning evidence that may be of value to policymakers, particularly in the Department for Education in England.  

We aim to conclude the project with a summative report due in 2024.

If you would like any more information on any of the above please get in touch with us at