Independence, Impartiality and Transparency - Why does it matter?

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Chris Targett
31 March 2016

Careers Advisers who are fully qualified and members of the national governing body, the Career Development Institute (CDI), have to adhere to a professional code of ethics[i] which, includes Impartiality and Transparency of practice; why does this matter?

Impartiality in a broad context, takes the view that clients (young people and adults) are able to make decisions for themselves and be given the freedom to do so, without being led or directed towards a particular career path or set of options (via bias). It sits hand in hand with the government requirement that clients are provided with all of their options[ii].

This is important as it is the students who have to live with the consequences of their choices. Careers Guidance, provided by qualified and professional Careers Advisers helps students to explore and understand these choices, pathways and the implications of different decisions.

Independence and Impartiality is also important in terms of trust between the adviser and student, as well as, adviser and school or institution who purchase their services.

In the first instance the student knows that at all times the adviser is acting in their best interests, they are not there to meet an external agenda (such as fill college courses); therefore they know that the information and guidance they are receiving is tailored for them; they are not being “sold” an option as the adviser is independent of any educational institution and their agendas.

Secondly, schools and colleges who purchase the services of a careers adviser need to be sure that the adviser isn’t there to fulfil other agendas (for financial or personal gain). In an era of budget cuts to 16 to 19 funding this provides customers with peace of mind.

A vital aspect to an impartial and client centred approach, is that students own the choices they make and in doing so imbue these choices with meaning. It is why Careers Advisers won’t tell clients what to do but make sure they understand what is possible so, when they choose to study for an Apprenticeship, University, School Leaver Scheme, Pre-Apprenticeship Course, Volunteer or take a GAP year or, pursue College or Sixth Form they know why they are doing so and the consequences of their choices; not just because someone has suggested it to them or told them to. Importantly they understand all their choices including the ramifications of doing nothing!

Thus, impacting upon the RPA and NEET agendas of local and national government.

It is this construction of meaning and personal narrative building which, makes professional Careers Guidance so effective for the individual but also the economy (as echoed in the recent paper by Tristram Hooley[iii]).

As for Transparency; there are times when Careers Advisers are asked to use their expertise to deliver sessions which, meet a certain agenda such as the exploration of careers in STEM or STEAM[iv]. In these instances they are following an agenda or using a selective view and need to be open about this with the students they work with, otherwise they risk alienating the very students they wish to help. Students will see that an agenda is in place and may then be reluctant to discuss other ideas if it isn’t explained or placed in context (for fear of their ideas not fitting with the adviser’s session).

In a client centred approach students have a right to know if they are being given a “selective view” so, when making decisions they can take this into account. Otherwise the Careers Information or Education they receive in these settings is no better than advertising and promotion.

We owe it to our students to be as open and honest about all the various ideas and opportunities which, are out there in the UK and wider world today. It is a question of not breaking the trust they have in us as Careers Advisers and in their schools, colleges and institutes which are their communities.

[i] http://www.thecdi.net/Code-of-Ethics

[ii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440795/Careers_Guidance_Schools_Guidance.pdf

[iii] https://adventuresincareerdevelopment.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/the-economic-benefits-of-career-guidance/

[iv] STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Maths e.g. Doctors, Scientists and Engineers. STEAM – Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths e.g. Architects or Computer Games Designers.

Written by: Chris Targett, Careers Adviser CXK

Originally published on the CXK Blog, Friday 28th August 2015

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