Case study

Careers adviser — Wayne Nicholas

As a careers adviser working on the new Working Wales project, Wayne is part of a team bringing fresh ideas to support people from all areas of society and help them with their career goals. Find out more about his role

What course did you study?

I studied for the level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development, a work-based vocational qualification accredited by the OCR, with my employer Careers Wales, graduating in 2019.

How did you get your job?

I applied for a trainee careers adviser role after being made redundant from a local authority. There was quite an intense interview process that included putting in an application form, an assessment day and a panel interview. As a trainee, I was given an intensive training programme to learn about the job and what it is to be a careers adviser, as well as completing the level 6 qualification.

What's a typical working day like?

As an adult adviser my role is to provide impartial careers information, advice and guidance. This often means having to find out a range of opportunities locally and help customers to make decisions on the best route for them based on their own needs and circumstances.

The work varies and I can be based in a careers centre meeting with people one day, doing group work and employability skills sessions focusing on CV building and interview skills another day. I also work with partners and agencies in outreach, such as the job centre, or with our local authority to help our customers to improve their employability skills and get them the best chance of progressing in their career. The job can also include working with colleges, education establishments and training providers to enhance people's skills.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The best part of my job is meeting with real people every day and supporting them to make some very important decisions in their lives. It's a real joy to see them progress on to the course they've always wanted to do or to get their dream job.

What are the challenges?

One of the main challenges is staying up to date and current with labour market information so I can provide the best advice and information.

Working with a variety of people every day brings challenges, but also exciting new opportunities as people are all different. For example, my approach with a 16 year-old leaving school would be totally different from how I approach someone in their 50s who has been a company director.

How is your degree relevant?

As a work-based qualification, the level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development is directly relevant to the job I do.

My previous qualification in teaching also helped enormously. On this course, I learned how to ask questions to reach higher levels of learning and gained insight into the teaching and learning sector, which means I can provide advice to customers about the best way to achieve their learning goals.

How has your role developed?

My role is constantly developing and I have now taken on more responsibility, such as doing redundancy work and helping year 11 school leavers make a successful transition into an apprenticeship, work, self-employment or training.

What are your career ambitions?

I am happy where I am for the moment and hope to continue to learn the profession for the next couple of years. I'd be interested in moving into management if the opportunity arose, as well as potentially working in learning and development.

What's your advice for someone wanting to become a careers adviser?

  • Use skills and experience that you have already such as teaching, social work, HR, personnel, and youth and community work. Even being customer facing or having a customer role can really be useful.
  • If you are serious, think about doing a qualification in advice and guidance to help you get started. This may help you in other roles as well, not related to careers.
  • Network, network, network.

Find out more

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