Saturday, 19 May 2012


Reflecting on "Careers" focused attention on the number of reorganizations inflicted on a single public service in a mere fifteen or sixteen years. The successive stages have been or are:

(i) A local public careers advice service.
(ii) A local privatized careers advice service.
(iii) A local privatized general advice service.
(iv) A local public general advice and activities service.
(v) (iv) "re-structured", i.e., cut and significantly reduced (now).
(vi) (v) co-existing with a national (public or privatized) careers service (imminent).

This is almost comical. Careers guidance was progressively diluted and now will be moved to a different agency anyway. 

I would not have thought that so many changes were possible in so short a time. When I trained in 1988-89, privatization was anticipated, though not yet going through Parliament, but nothing else. Surely the resources invested in repeated re-organizations could instead have been invested in improving the quality of existing services? I might have been a good Careers Officer/Adviser by now if I had been allowed to get on with it. The only innovation in (i)-(vi) above was the introduction of a general advice service. That could have been set up alongside the existing Careers Services and Youth and Community Services.

I think the reality is that capitalism in crisis has to cut or rationalize public spending. The value of qualitative, e.g., advice and guidance, services cannot be quantified so different ways to quantify it are attempted without success. For two years, after privatization, the organization was literally paid for the number of careers action plans it issued to clients so a client visiting a Centre to make a factual inquiry would be action planned whether or not he wanted to be. Needless to say, that pointless activity did not continue for long. In the Chinese sense, we have lived and are living in "interesting times." If I had not taken the scenic route from University graduation to a career, I would have experienced (i) for much longer or even from its inception in 1973.

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