Customer Care: helping people to help themselves

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‘You can lead a horse to water’ is a phrase often used when someone has offered advice which hasn’t been taken. But while some people might be unwilling to accept advice, for others, the barriers they face can affect their ability to act on it.

Providing quality careers advice is as much about the adviser’s skills in identifying and addressing the listener’s barriers as it is about a knowledge of, in our case, the labour market and learning opportunities.

Lesley Stanley, one of Futures’ Careers Advisers based in schools, succinctly explains:

“Part of our role is to listen… to see not just what the presenting need of the (student) is but what the real need is.”

Listening is one of the key skills which our advisers use to help them establish the advice required, including support which will address both the client’s needs (or barriers) and their ambitions beyond them.

Our skill at providing quality careers advice is evident in the many awards we have been nominated for and received. In 2015, for example, our Careers Adviser, Bill Redhead, won the Careers Development Institute’s ‘Careers Adviser of the Year’ and this year another of our adviser, Liz Dunn, was shortlisted.

Being judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for our provision of the National Careers Service in the East Midlands, including for ‘Quality of Careers Advice and Guidance’, also provides us and our customers with reassurance that we’re doing a good job.

What matters most, of course, is the experience of our customers. We receive great feedback from people we’ve helped on a daily basis, many of whom share their successes so that others can see how we can help them too. One of our National Careers Service clients recently told us:

“I made a stronger CV after contacting the National Careers Service. I also found many skills-based courses and the adviser helped me identify the skills I have.” - MD Fazlay Rabbi, 29, Leicester

It’s quite common for people to be unaware of how many skills they possess or of the full range of jobs they could use them for and this is just one example of why high-quality provision of careers advice across the UK is so important. In a constantly changing labour market, employment success depends on the acquisition of, and flexible approach to, transferable skills.

Provision of quality careers advice can enable a customer to recognise which of these transferable skills they already have and identify how to gain the ones they haven’t. There’s no question that with this knowledge, clients stand a much better chance of achieving their employment and learning goals.

John Yarham - Chief Executive - Futures Advice, Skills & Employment