What Jobs Have We Done?

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I feel as though I have been here before with this topic - excuses if I have. As I was about to leave school, dad asked me what I wanted to do. 'Don't go in the paint trade' (like him), he told me, g

Dunno if this has been done before.... I seem to have been spectacularly bad at choosing for a long time. Then when I finally got it right, Govt. decided I as wrong. When I left school with 6 'O' l

Left FFGS after six fruitless years with no qualifications other than my 11 plus, my cycling proficiency certificate, and a card saying I swam a length at Noel St Baths. Waiter, caravan site operativ

I used log tables at work at BG, we didn't have an engineer, so when we tested cables we had to make calculations to make sure the cable insulation met the requirements of the M&Q Act, if not, get the insulation higher or replace the cable, this had to be done "in situ". There was a maximum leakage current allowed under the Act, all I had was a megger insulation reading, so had to calculate the leakage using Ohm's Law, no calculators at that time, so had to do it long hand with log tables to make it easier....

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Referring to MargieH's post re the 11+. Yes, I did sit the "scholarship" exam at the same time and place. There was no forewarning - we were just marched off to the hall which was set out with desks so there was no time for pre exam nerves. I must have passed as I got a place at Mellish. Thoroughly enjoyed my time there. All of my year seemed to do extremely well in their subsequent careers - doctors, pharmacists, accountants (like me), lawyers and senior academics. Few of us came from privileged backgrounds. Our own fathers were still making their own way up the career ladder after war service.

I went to the school closing ceremony a few years ago and have subsequently viewed the demolition site. Very sad to see it gone.


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You asked for it:

1966 - Electrical apprentice at the ROF
1972 - Electrical technician for Anglo American at Arnot opencast coal mine South Africa.
1975 - Service advisor for Unit Rig & Equipment Company Sishan iron and coal mine northern cape South Africa.
1977 - Service engineer for Unit Rig & Equipment Company in Tulsa Oklahoma.
1980 - Service engineer for Vaughan Associates - Nottingham.
1982 - Service engineer for Stanhope machine tools based in London.
1988 - Service engineer for Dixie & Associates - moved to and based from South Wales.
1992 - Service engineer for SIS (Coventry)
1996 - Service Manager for SIS (Coventry)
1999 - Group staff contractor for Ford Motor Company
2003 - Service advisor for GeesinkNorba in the UK - sat on my backside now waiting for my pension.
There are a couple of others in between where I worked for less that a year.
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#57. I perhaps should have added, that if I had gone for the interview on my own, and was offered the job there, I would likely as not have accepted it; not knowing any better. Your dad knows best - that's what dads are for.

Probably true back in the 50s Chulla, but as things developed, the whole post 16 world became more complex and the old certainties disappeared, it was often no longer the case. Not the Dad's faults, things changed very fast.


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Good post, Chulla. #57. I realize educational qualifications are important, but i think far too much is made of them. We change as we go through life. When we are really interested in something we will usually study hard at it without any external pushing.

I believe there are many youngsters who do not have much in the way of papers when they leave school. Like you, I did not pass the 11 plus. However we had certain aptitudes and interests. Seems to me the job of those who guide us at that stage is to encourage us to those positions where we can develop those interests rather than reject someone because, math, or history was not their best subject.

I broadly agree Loppy, but there is a distinction between those 'guiding', and those who hold the keys to opportunities. It is far too easy to shoot the messenger.


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Careers Guidance.. Cont'd.

Let's move on from my last short post about what Careers Guidance isn't and onto what it is.....

For now. Please just accept that it is not an event. It's a process... It's a process wherein you hopefully educate a young person about options, choices, possibilities, and how to relate themselves to those possibilities in a realistic way.

The bulk of the Diploma in Careers Guidance comprised:

-Learning about and extensive practical experience of interviewing young people. How to agree the purpose of the conversation, how to tease info out of them, how to impart information and check it's understood. How to assess their strengths/weaknesses based on their own views and info provided by school on expected grades etc. How to pick up on cues. How to understand their motivation/lack of.

How to arrive at agreement over the 'Next Step'. That could be it, but more likely the next step is a short term goal, such as looking at local college courses, reading something, speaking to a teacher about likely results, etc. Definitely not about being judgemental. Lots of interpersonal psychology etc. And of course recording it all.

-Learning about occupations, the ways into them, qualifications/skills required etc.

-Learning about political/economic influences on employment. Government employment policy. Types of unemployment (Structural/Frictional. etc.)

-'Job Studies' As in literally unpicking a range of jobs to understand them, their demands, their rewards, their availability etc. etc.

- Understanding and casting a critical eye over Careers Information in all its forms. Books, pamphlets, videos etc. How to create and maintain an effective Careers Library.

-Liasing with Employers, Trainers, Educational Establishments, Industry bodies, Govt. Dept.s and any number of 'related agencies' (Social services, Health, Probation, Etc., etc.)

Essays and research about the above. Some pretty heavy psychology.

Understanding the structure of the UK education system, educational levels, both 'academic' and 'vocational', how they match, how they differ, routes through, and routes across..

Much more but those are the central points.

When I started my first job I had the Pt. 1 Diploma but no idea. I was recruited to work mostly with young trainees on Youth Training, and young employees/apprentices. I spent about 4 days a week endlessly reviewing the progress of trainees on YTS programmes. It was tedious, but also worthwhile. I was able to pick up on issues and also challenge the trainers if they were not looking after the young people properly.

But what I, and I suspect the vast bulk of the population hadn't/still doesn't realise, is just how organised and targeted the work was.

The service was aware of every single young person, in every school in the Borough, from Year 9. (Third year) Back then (1985) computers were all but non existent, but we had paper records of all the kids from year 9. About 2000 in each year from Year 9 to Year 13 ( Upper 6th) and tracking them to 21.yrs. That's about 16000 young people.

Total staff was about 30, of whom about half were qualified advisers and the rest 'Employment Officers' in day to day contact with job seekers, and 3-4 admin etc.

IOW, the whole of the Careers Guidance function for the whole of the educational system in St Helens, including two local colleges and about a dozen secondary schools, was covered by about 15 qualified Careers 'Officers' (Later called 'Advisers') So the budget was a fraction of that for a decent sized local primary school.

The total national Careers Service budget was about £80 million, which was vanishingly small in the overall education budget and along the lines of what a mathematician friend of mine used to refer to as 'the square root of f**k all'

Time to throw in a comment to relieve the factual tedium. :)

I have never, in 30+ years as a Careers Adviser, either told someone that they 'can't do that', or that they will 'never make anything of themselves'. I have however heard many teachers say such things.

Doing the 'grunt' stuff with young trainees/employees was a common sort of initation to Careers Guidance but I soon got my first school. Actually it was two schools. A Catholic Boys Secondary was being merged with a Catholic Girls Secondary to create a new Catholic Co-Ed. But they were only merging them a year at a time so that the new boys intake went into the girls place and the old boys place faded by a year at a time until it eventually just had year 11 (5th) rattling about. I thought that was a rotten way to do it, but 'Hey!'

So what was the 'process' I mentioned above?

It started in Year 9. (Third) I would go in and speak to each class in turn. I'd introduce myself and the Service. I'd explain the concept of Careers Guidance and relate it to their immediate issue, which was option choice. I'd attend Year 9 'Options' Parents Evenings and speak to kids and parents about the implications of choices. But, and this is the key. They made the decisions. I didn't

I'm very tired again so I'm going to leave it there for now.


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DJ 360 Re #84. I concede, you have a point. We seem to have lived in much simpler days when things were a clearer black or white. I guess I am tech challenged now. Just trying to log my wife's smart phone out of Yahoo. Why can't they put a simple "log out" button on the thing. Had to ask Mr. Google. He said "hit close account" That sounds like cancelling it to me. Anyway it worked she is now logged out of Yahoo. I'd never make it today. LOL.

Interesting post for 85. I had never given much thought to the work of the career guidance counselor, or Youth Employment Officer as he was called in my day. A lot more to it than I ever realized.

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I have no idea, but the thought of Grammar school scared the "bejazus" out of me, I begged not to sit the 11+ and managed to get out of it. One of my mates sat it and ended up at High Pavement.

How awful!! :)

I loved ( most of) my time at HP. I was far from the top student, but the place opened my eyes to so much...

Mostly, it alerted me to literature, science, arts, culture way beyond ll previous experience. But where I fell down was that my working class background didn't let me see the opportunities those things held.

The downside was that (due to pretty useless Career Guidance) , you were either 6th Form/Uni material, or you were destined for engineering/mining/production.

I've already said that I was so obsessed with Chemistry and science that I wasn't listening, but a skilled adviser may well have got me to at least consider my other talents in written English and things which at that time were unexamined. Like being able to speak intelligibly.


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And that Benjamin proves a point that seems lost on our political masters.

Different strokes for different folks as they say. I love working with my hands whilst some are much happier with a pen and log tables.

There is a very false distinction constantly made between .'Academic' and 'Vocational' education. There's also a general misunderstanding that 'vocational' is somehow easier and more suitable for those who are 'less academic'. It's a largely false distinction and is based almost entirely on snobbery.

The more you dig into it, the more you discover that, there isn't even any agreement on what 'vocation' means and which occupations it applies to.

Most people would think of Medicine as an academic subject. You certainly need a minimum of a high grade (Preferably A*) in Chem, plus usually any two from Physics, Maths. or maybe Biology. (Though contrary to popular opinion biology is neither a requirement nor especially sought after).

but ultimately, training to be a doctor is vocational training, albeit pretty high level stuff. It's training to do a job.


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Careers Guidance.. Part 3.

We'd got as far as my first intervention in my school, during year 9 (3rd) and supporting the students with their Option choices.

During Year 10 I used to see all of my young people again in form groups. I'd lead discussion on issues such as decison making and what is needed for it to be effective. I'd take them through the main post 16 options.

Job at 16 (As if.. in the 1980s....)

6th Form/Continuing education.

Further Education in college,

Apprenticeship. (Yes there were still a few..)

YTS/Youth Training.

And discuss the pro's/cons etc.

I'd also offer individual interviews to anybody who was feeling seriously out of their depth, and tell them about the Year 11 interview programme and what to expect. Also attend Parent's Evenings.

NB. Its worth noting that while it may seem obvious to all of us now.. little or none of this was obvious to my little 'schoolies'. They were accustomed to doing as they were told. Thinking for themselves , let alone making their own decisions were largely alien to them. Similarly, there was no reason to suppose they knew anything about the world beyond year 11 (5th) because nobody was telling them this stuff and their mind set didn't encourage autonomous enquiry. They were used to having things done to and for them. I had to get them to see that it was soon to be down to them.. As I've already stated, the world was also very much more complicated than it was for us back in the 50s and 60s

Towards the end of Year 10, we'd issue a form (Can 't remember what it was called.) on which each pupil would fill in a few sections about any career ideas they might have and any post 16 routes they were considering. On the reverse, teachers would indicate expected grades and give a basic 'character/behaviour/attendance' profile for each youngster.

The above forms were used to prioritise the interview process for year 11, and to form the basis for a 'Careers Guidance Interview'. Putting it crudely, the least capable and least aware would normally be seen first for interview, in order to leave time for them to be seen again as many times as necessary to have their post 16 'Destination' sorted before they left school.

The last ones to be seen were usually the potential A level students. Partly because they were usually the most self reliant, but also because the schools already had mechanisms for hoovering them up. (They were worth money... quite literally)

The objective was, as far as possible, to have every school leaver 'sorted', with a suitable post 16 'Destination' before they actually left school. Naturally, this wasn't 100% effective, but it was a good start.

Bear in mind that in any 1 year an adviser would have a Years, 9/10/11 and potentially Years 11/12 and 13 running concurrently, plus also a section of the 'unemployed' register to follow up plus a section of the local employer base to liaise with plus a section of the local Youth Training provision to look after.

In my first school, there were 351 youngsters in Year 11.

As they say. 'you do the Math...' :)

So, by the time the school leaving date came around we could usually heave a small sigh of relief. At least part of the Summer was a quietish time which could be spent updating the Careers Library, going on 'Employer Visits' etc. But it did used to piss me off when teachers said 'Enjoy the break Col', assuming that I had six weeks off too.. which I didn't.

A word about 'Careers Teachers'.

Most were not qualified in any way, although towards the end of the 'Proper' Careers Service in 2001, there were increasing numbers of courses available, plus systems of Accreditation to recognise good practice on the part of schools. From the point of view of most qualified Careers Advisers, a good Careers Teacher was one who understood our role and worked to facilitate, rather than duplicate it. Delivering kids on time for interview, providing a half decent interview room in school and and a slot at parent's evenings was far more use than trying to do Careers Guidance for which they had neither the time, knowledge or skill. The best one I ever worked with understood all of the above and was a really great supporter of the service as well as a bloody good teacher of his own subject (Geog). Sadly he succumbed to stomach cancer before he was 40.

After a couple of years I was promoted to 'Careers Coordinator Employment and Training'. This meant that I was responsible for all of the Services' liaison with local employers and trainers. I led a small team who looked at policy in this area. We interpreted new Govt measures and informed local employers of any funding available etc. We ran an annual 'Jobsearch Week' in the Summer, where we visited literally every business in the Borough from the biggest Co., to the corner shop. This was to update our employer info, flush out vacancies, inform about our services and promote training etc.

I also sat on various local training groups and was the main contact with the local Chamber of Commerce. and Training Enterprise Council.

We had people at 'Coordinator' Level also liaising and developing service policy with the Further Ed, Higher Ed and Special Ed sectors.

I was also doing Youth Work at the time and worked hard to build relationships with Youth and Social services, though it was hard work as Youth services thought they were the only people who understood kids and Social services thought they were the only ones who understood suffering. Neither understood Careers. ;)

Tired again...

Next up, I'll explain the 'Careers Office' and its function and go on to the disaster that was Connexions and the bigger disaster which was scrapping it.

Pay attention... I'll be asking questions later. :)


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This push by politicians to send people to university is very misguided, and some of the idiotic courses they offer are no more than a laugh, still its an easy way to massage the unemployment figures.

And when you have finished you end up with very little in the way of job prospects.

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You raised a good point Col, about being good little pupils do as they are told and not to think for themselves. Ironically in later years that's a big negative.

As a maintenance electrician, when I was first let loose after I'd completed my apprenticeship, making decisions was difficult, "am I doing the right thing, should I get on the phone for a foreman/chargehand"??

Eventually as I got more confidence, it was a matter of "stuff it, if they don't like it, they can lump it"

Private enterprize demanded I had to think for myself, I was proud that I never had to call anyone out when I was on nights at BG and never had to call a foreman out at Boulby when I was on the backshifts.

In fact, when we had shift foremen at Boulby, mine once apologised for not getting up to my district during the shift, he said "you don't need me looking over your shoulder all the time, you're perfectly competent without me around"

Of course when I was in charge, the only time I had someone call the Engineer was after an accident, where I was informed one of my lads had got burned on a live circuit, a no no in underground mines and more especially a coal mine. But it was to inform him of the accident as required by law, plus the Mine Manager and Inspector...That episode cost me a couple of hours paperwork of my findings of the accident.

I most certainly could never have performed a leading hands job straight out of my time.

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I agree Ayeup, but I was referring more to the fact that kids wouldn't even think through that they had to apply in order to get a job or a college place after leaving school, because they'd never had to before. From about 5, they were used to being told when to get up, where to go to school when to go home, etc. It all just happened.

Even after all the preparation, information sessions and interviews over 3 years, I'd still have some kids who would do bugger all until they decided to apply for college places in early Sept, months after they left school. It didn't sink in that all the most popular courses would be full..

As for being autonomous in work. It's one of the things I loved best about being a Careers Adviser. Essentially, you had a caseload to get sorted and a year to do it. It was up to you to organise it. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing. But, if you needed a bit of help or advice, whether over a client issue, or just how to sort something out, colleagues would always help. Nobody knows everything. ( I'm close though.... :) )


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This push by politicians to send people to university is very misguided, and some of the idiotic courses they offer are no more than a laugh, still its an easy way to massage the unemployment figures.

And when you have finished you end up with very little in the way of job prospects.

Can't agree I'm afraid. The present lot have done loads to discourage applications to uni, by pushing up fees etc. But, they have done nothing whatever to boost training for employment straight from school. (Don't believe their lies about apprenticeships.. they've just renamed existing training and lowered the bar)

They've also decimated 'Further Education' (Or Non Advanced Further Ed as it should be called)

Which leaves the brightest kids with little alternative but to go to uni if they want a hope of a decent job.

If you want to reduce numbers at uni, you have to provide a viable alternative for bright people. It barely exists at present.

They've also all but destroyed my profession, so that kids have little or no help and advice anymore... but that's another story.... which I'm leading up to elsewhere in this thread.

As for 'Daft Courses'. It's an old complaint, but mostly doesn't hold up when you read past the media blather.

The fact is that any number of jobs can be accessed by people with 'any degree'. The value of a degree except for obvious specialisms like Technical/Medical/Scientific etc., lies in the intellectual challenge it presents and how the student meets it. IOW, it's a demonstration of intellectual capacity, application, independence of thought, reasoning, etc., etc.

My degree is in Politics. It was mostly about critical anlysis of the works of political theorists throughout history from Plato to Tom Payne, plus a fair smattering of sociological theory, psychology, economics etc. Nothing directly to do with Careers Guidance, but it got me onto the post grad course I needed. That's how it works for many jobs.

When that Newt-brained little idiot Gove took over education he set about pulling funding for Arts Design and Media courses, which he saw as useless. The moron clearly didn't understand that this country is now a world leader in those fields. Our Fashion industry alone brings in almost £30 Billion per year.

The direct value of the UK fashion industry to the UK economy is £26 billion; up from £21 billion in 2009. Showing an increase of 22% in nominal terms (source: Oxford Economics 2014)

The UK fashion industry is estimated to support 797,000 jobs (source: Oxford Economics 2014).

14 Feb 2014
Facts & Figures AW14 - British Fashion Council

One of my daughters is a Fashion Designer.

Even if you take things like alleged Degrees in 'the Beatles', or whatever, closer examination usually shows that 'The Beatles' is a possible specialism within a broader degree. And given the massive and continuing influence of the Beatles on popular culture, I'd say it's a worthwhile topic for intellectual examination.

Dominic Sandbrook's current BBC2 series 'Let Us Entertain You', is a fascinating insight into the Worldwide success (and value) of British popular culture. I don't agree with every word he says, but a good watch nonetheless.

We don't need fewer uni places, we need more employment opportunities. And they won't come while the Govt.persists with austerity and generally deflationary policies which are stifling growth.

Just sayin' ;)


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Bad school report at 15 , NCB Moorgreen TC, Newstead and Annesley pits 22yr, picking in fields 5 yr, Prolog warehouse work to present. 6 yr to retirement who knows.

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Careers Guidance Part 4.

What I described in Part 3 was pretty much how we went about the guidance process in schools.

If young people were not fixed up with a 'Positive Destination' (Job, College Course, Training course, 6th form or whatever) after they left school, they would often make their way into the office and seek help, vacancies or whatever. If they didn't, we would call them in. In extreme cases we'd go out and do home visits. Mostly, they were dealt with by 'Employment Officers', but if anything significant was changing in their job ideas etc., they'd be referred to the Duty Careers Adviser. We did a day or a half day each on 'Duty' in the office. We had the main office, plus one in each local college.

We were judged on a combination of the quality of our guidance/systems/organisation/client-parent satisfaction etc., and on stats like numbers of unemployed, numbers who were 'not known' etc. St Helens often came in the top 3 nationally for our performance.

A word on 'Careers Interviews'.

I think I've already said somewhere that people naturally tend to attribute their successes to themselves and their failures to others. This, plus chronic confusion about exactly who it was that told little Johnny he 'couldn't be an Astronaut', or 'would never make anything of himself'., leads to the stream of celebs etc., trotting out the same old 'The Careers bloke told me....' stories.

You can add to this that everybody is a Careers Adviser, except that amateurs don't advise.. they instruct... 'You don't wanna do thaaaaat.. you wanna do...' As far as I'm concerned, Amateurs think they know it all and Professionals are painfully aware that they don't, and can't, know everything.

Add to this the endless complaints about recruitment issues from certain employment sectors. It was always the fault of the Careers Service for not 'steering' people into their industry sector. It was never their fault for having crap wages, poor industry promotion or failing to engage with the Careers service, schools, colleges etc.

What most couldn't grasp was that Career Guidance is mostly client driven. They make the decisions. The adviser can only inform, challenge, or expand their knowledge and ideas. But there is also a duty to try to relate the client's ideas to the reality of the job market. Example. In St Helens in one year, I examined the aspirations of the whole year group who were planning to leave school. 40% wanted to leave school and train as either Nursery Nurses, or Motor Mechanics and that was split mostly, but not exclusively between boys wanting Motor Vehicle work and girls wanting to be Nursery Nurses. It just wasn't going to happen. We always tried to negotiate more training places than the local area needed, on the basis that some would move out of area for work, but there was no way we could secure 200 places each for Motor Vehicle and Care Work. The real demand was more like 50 of each.

This meant that I was obliged to urge my colleagues to be really diligent in discussing this stuff with kids. " I like cars", certainly didn't impress me. Lots of kids wanted basically to hang around cars. What I wanted to hear was stuff about how they wanted to fault find, repair things, etc. (Much more to the conversation in reality, but I can only push your interest so far..)

'Astronauts'. These cropped up a couple of times a year. Most were on a 'wind up', but a few were serious. The correct response was to ask them what they knew about Astronaut training and recruitment. Most knew nothing. Usually inform them that there had been 2-3 UK Astronauts at most and get them to go away and look at information then come back and see me again.

If they didn't come back they clearly weren't interested. If they came back, mostly, with no prompting from me, they would admit that the requirements were beyond anything they were aspiring to, so we'd set about looking at something else. The key point here is that the result is their decision. Not mine.

Should also point out that just as many kids were 'under aspiring' and not aware of just how far they could push themselves. Always worth challenging them and getting them to aim higher.

Finally parents. Things changed hugely from when the parents left school to when I was doing this work. It often took a lot of diplomacy and patience to deal with this. Parents mostly left school when few if any qualifications were needed for lots of jobs/trades. That wasn't the case from around 1970 on (Roughly), but getting parents to accept this was an art.

So, I bobbled along in this environment. I loved working with the kids, the parents etc., but the vested interests and the Govt. really made it difficult to apply our professional ethos.

I think it was 1991 when the Tory Govt decided to privatise Careers Guidance. After a blt of kerfuffle, and a few failed attempts by private ventures to do overnight what we'd been developing for a hundred years, things settled down to most areas just setting up Companies limited by guarantees and worth £1, or summat like that, but basically we carried on. Now however we were judged on how many action plans we did with kids and we got paid £x for each one. This meant a massive bureaucratic exercise in copying, storing and monitoring thousands of bit of paper. Utterly bizarre.

But I was still basically happy until midsummer 1996 when, after a rather tiring trip to London for a conference, I was flattened by a Heart Attack. I soldiered on for a bit but took retirement in 1997.

That's probably a good point to leave it for now.

Next up... The dreaded Connexions.. what it could have been and what it really became...


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Good points col, I never really blamed anyone for my lack of success.. only me.To be honest I never sought guidance, which I regret; I went for top dollar all the time. I had a notion to enter the Police Force,regretfully I didn't pursue that.

Next subject could be Interviews.. I've had some pearlers...Ian.

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I've had a few myself Ian. Some worth a mention..

I'd like to get the whole Connexions 'debacle' out of the way because in many ways it spelled the death of properly organised Careers Guidance in this country, which in turn to a large extent leaves the education system working in a vacuum. Pure insanity and all the more annoying because it was created, and destroyed by the Labour Party. I've no idea how really interested folk are in this stuff, but I've always been a bit miffed by the way that Careers was either ignored or pilloried, but rarely praised.. mostly by those who had no idea what we did.

Anyway, I suppose I'd best try to get some sleep. Daughter is now flying down through Iran, about 1 Hr 30 from Dubai. Although I hate this stuff it is at least reassuring that Iran is pretty stable and it's also notable how all of the flight paths are studiously avoiding Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Pretty sure she'll miss her connection to HK though, so she'll have no sleep and meetings straight after landing. These 'glamourous' jobs are anything but...



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Do I detect a gentle dig?

S'Ok. Reading my diatribes isn't compulsory. :biggrin:


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