Leading Social Mobility and WP Activity within Careers

Our mini-survey of AGCAS Heads of Service in Spring 2019 revealed that views vary by institution as to whether all Careers service staff are seen as being directly involved in WP and work to support student and graduate social mobility, or whether such activity is more targeted and delivered by one or more staff specifically appointed to this work. In the AGCAS Spring 2019 survey of Heads of Careers, 50% stated they had staff in their team dedicated to WP activity, with the other 50% saying that they didn’t have any dedicated resource.

The breadth of work to support WP and social mobility is also very variable. Some careers teams have dedicated resource to support WP student recruitment and pre-entry, and full life-cycle careers and employability services. Others don’t. In most cases this will depend on institutional WP priorities.

“In our case we don’t have any dedicated support to support outreach and recruitment activity, although our WP projects officer is asked to support occasional school outreach events.”

The difference between managing specific initiatives versus an all-student or WP is business-as-usual approach is one of the major themes of conversation amongst Heads of Service and within our institutions. Institutions and their priorities vary enormously depending on size, location, student demographic, mission group and outcomes.

There are a number of examples of the work and priorities of careers teams being directly influenced by WP data and institutional WP performance gaps.

“We are using data to create faculty strategy plans to engage WP students and to close the gap between WP and non-WP students”

“The Careers and Employability Team has access to and is aware of the Access and Participation Plan and the priority areas. This is discussed as a part of team planning.”

“This year Careers Consultants portfolios were updated to include specific demographics as well as academic schools, including care leavers, estranged and disabled students. We will review CC portfolios again at the end of 2019/20”

“Our Career Mentoring scheme is looking to focus on the APP priority groups of students from now onwards.”

“In our university there are careers consultants who hold responsibility for WP activity alongside others focused on faculty careers work. These roles are responsible for leading on WP CPD to work towards an embedded approach to supporting WP students, whilst maintaining some activity with discrete groups such as supporting care leavers and commuter students.”

Upskilling careers teams

There are also examples of an increased focus on inclusivity in the language used, in-classroom guidance and the student-facing resources being used by careers teams.

“Our WP lead has created guidelines, updated resources and tutored the entire Careers team in how to ensure we are using inclusive practice and materials eg. providing example CVs with more varied examples of extra-curricular experiences and hobbies.”