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Careers Profession Alliance

Update on progress - 2011

Cloud created by:

Dr Deirdre Hughes
27 September 2010

The Careers Profession Allaince, formerly known as the 'Careers Colloqium' now comprises senior representatives six main careers professional associations in the UK. The group has made very good progress in coming together to provide a unified voice for the profession. A Primer has been produced - see below. Contact details are also provided below if you wish to find out more information from the respective careers professional associations. The group is indebted to Dame Ruth Silver CBE for her invaluable encoragement and support as Chair of the Careers Profession Taskforce in England.

CAREERS PROFESSION ALLIANCE: ‘One Voice – making an Impact’





The Careers Profession in the UK is characterised by its diversity. Providers of career development services offer a distinctive range of services and products designed to meet the needs of a diverse range of users, whose ages, circumstances and requirements vary enormously. In May 2010 representatives of the leading careers professional associations across the UK came together, supported by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), to develop new approaches to increase professionalism within and across the careers sector. A new ‘Careers Colloquium’ was established which is now formally known as the ‘Careers Profession Alliance’.

 The Careers Profession Alliance is a new overarching body that comprises leading careers professional associations in the four home countries of the UK. It aims to develop and promote a code of ethical principles and professional standards across the UK to which all careers professionals should work. This will provide all those who offer career development services and related products with a clear and simple set of criteria to assess and continuously improve the quality of their work. Their widespread use will also enable clients to make judgements about the quality of the services and products they receive. The Careers Profession Alliance will provide government and others with a single voice on these issues making a positive impact on education, employment and community development policies and practices. The six Careers Professional Associations currently involved represent over 7,500 members working in a wide range of public, private, voluntary and community settings, but the Alliance will welcome additional members from organisations with similar roles and commitment within the UK.


The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has highlighted an urgent need to ‘transform the quality and availability of information, advice and guidance on career and learning opportunities’. However, over the last two decades, careers services have undergone a series of major changes, leaving many weakened, and in some cases, making it difficult for the public to know where to turn for impartial, formal or informal career development support. There is a need to bring coherence to standards, qualifications and career progression frameworks for all those providing careers services and products to the general public. The careers profession is highly complex given this includes workers in public, private and third sector organisations, as well as a wide range of people in non career development specialist roles. This complexity makes it difficult to identify a clear professional grouping and makes the assurance of quality standards and professionalism a major challenge.


The Careers Profession Alliance is taking major steps to improve communication within and between its member associations and with policymakers. So far, it has produced:

  • a vision and mission statement, which we shared with Ministers and Government Officials in England;
  • a paper for Ministers and Government Officials which describes the benefits of careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) to individuals, business/employers, learning organisations, communities and the economy;
  • a draft Common Code of Ethical Principles; and
  • a Primer.

Dame Ruth Silver CBE (Chair of the Careers Profession Taskforce in England) welcomed this new professional formation. She commented: ‘The Task Force has been in inspired by the ambitions and determination of this group to take responsibility for the stature of their work in the lives of our people. They gave us the confidence to ask them to take the leadership of their standards and ethics. We look forward to the outcome. We know it will happen.’

In November 2010, Ruth Spellman OBE, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute, was formally appointed as the CPA Chairperson. Her inaugural meeting with the CPA Executive Group members is scheduled on 18th January 2011 in London. 

In early January 2011, the CPA received confirmation from Government officials in DBIS & DfE (England) of some available funds to support the CPA's implementation of key recommendations arising from the Careers Profession Taskforce. A Work Programme Manager will be appointed for up to 12 weeks to lead on the following strands of work between 14th January - 31st March 2011:

Development of common professional standards

A unified profession requires a common set of professional standards to which its members will be expected to conform. At present each of the six Associations has its own set, expressed in differing ways. This strand will produce a map of existing professional standards, incorporating evidence from and the work already done by the three Sector Skills Councils (LLUK, CWDC, and TDA), as well as good and interesting practice from Australia and Canada.

OUTCOMES: A detailed description of the new professional standards and an action plan detailing how a common set of standards can be put in place. 

DATE: By 31st March 2011

Career progression framework

A unified profession requires career progression routes for professionals working in specific sectors, and for those wishing to move between sectors and progress within them. This strand will produce a single career progression framework which will build on previous work by the three Sector Skills Councils, particularly the LLUK report prepared earlier in 2010, and the recent Inclusion report[1] on personal advisers in the welfare to work sector. This framework will help inform the ‘Careers First’, ‘Careers Last’ and Advanced Careers Practitioner principles outlined in the Careers Profession Task Force report.

OUTCOME: A single career progression framework published on-line via the CPA website and other relevant websites.

DATE: By 31st March 2011

Plan for progress to Level 6 profession

The plan to explore the scope for and speed of progress towards a minimum Level 6 profession is an issue that requires further work and consideration, particularly timescales, costs and other implications for policy makers, employers and practitioners. The present workforce is qualified in a variety of ways, and at a variety of levels. A map of the current qualifications held by members of the professional associations is required.

OUTCOME: A map of the current qualifications levels of the Associations’ membership.

DATE: By 31st March 2011

Review initial training

The content, as distinct from the level, of initial training varies. Reviewing these variations and producing a more coherent approach will involve both paper-based review of curricula and consultation with providers and students and graduates of those programmes. This will inevitably take time. The review will respond to recommendation 7 of the Careers Profession Task Force, with particular emphasis given to STEM, ICT and LMI embedded as part of initial training. It will also examine current and future options for ‘specialisms’ to evolve.

OUTCOME: A plan for how such work might be carried out, over what timescale and at what cost.

DATE: By 31st March 2011

Review CPD

The same is true for continuing professional development (CPD), whose activities and definitions are complex and ill defined. Here too a plan will be produced for how content, quality, accessibility and participation in CPD can be progressed building upon the work already undertaken by relevant Sector Skills Councils. This will also consider the inclusion in CPD of specialisms to evolve such as LLD, HE, ICT, LMI, STEM etc. A first step towards improving professional practice is a commitment by individuals to engaging in CPD.  The first step is to ask members of the profession to formally commit to this, and to a process for reporting the scale and nature of CPD they have undertaken.

OUTCOME: A plan for reviewing CPD, and if time allows, require the Associations’ members to declare their commitment to this.

DATE: By 31st March 2011

Progress to an overarching national kite-mark

A variety of quality awards are already in existence for careers education and guidance for schools, colleges, providers of guidance and other organisations. Some exist specifically to serve particular needs, but there needs to be a more coherent approach which is more comprehensible to professionals and the general public. This strand will produce a proposal to develop an overarching kite mark which will bring together these individual awards so that those with an interest, including parents and young people, can see that there is some commonality in the expectations of the individual awards. This would not be a new award nor would it replace the existing awards, which are valued by providers but would allow these awards to remain locally relevant while being nationally recognised. The proposed kite mark will avoid additional bureaucracy, cost and administrative burden. It will be quick to implement, simple to maintain and self-policing, giving providers incentives for to improve and maintain standards.

OUTCOME: A proposal and action plan for taking forward the development of an overarching national kite mark, working closely with employers and other relevant stakeholders

DATE:  By 31st March 2011


Please do share your views and comments on this major new development.


[1] Crawford, E. & Parry, F. (2010) Professionalising the Welfare to Work Industry: Developing a Framework for Action. London:  Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion


Contact: Sue Barr

ACEG President


Contact: Margaret Dane

AGCAS Chief Executive


Tel: 07710 716569

Tel: 0131 4669170


Contact: Ann Ruthven



Contact: Dr Deirdre Hughes

ICG President


Tel: 07969 894 615

Email: Tel: 07533 545057


Contact: Duncan Bolam

ACP International UK Network Director


Contact: Eddie Collins

Northern Ireland Schools and Careers Association


Tel: 01883 723901


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Dr Deirdre Hughes
7:58am 19 May 2011

Work completed and progress made between January and March 2011 has been significant. Serious talks and a nationwide consultation with members of all six careers professional associations is likely to begin from 21st June onwards.......probably one of the most serious debates in the last 25 years re: careers profesisons and the proposition to move towards achieving Chartered Status.

Keen to hear your views and reactions to this.

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