Career Services rapuara data sources
1. Data collected for routine administrative purposes
Data is collected to meet the requirements of our contract with Government (which directly funds 86% of our work). The data collected, on a monthly and quarterly basis, primarily concerns a collation of the outputs ensuing from our services and resources, for example:
- numbers of people accessing career planning services via website, free phone advice line, and face-to-face,
- numbers of ‘at-risk’ students and migrant/refugee groups receiving customised career planning assistance,
- numbers of key stakeholders and influencers receiving information sessions,
- numbers of secondary schools receiving customised advice and assistance and professional development assistance,
- implementation of quality assurance processes.
This output information is collected through three channels:
- an automated Client Relationship Management (CRM) system in which free phone advice line contacts are recorded,
- an automated Client Management Information System (CMIS) that records numbers of people receiving personalised services (due to be phased out in favour of CRM),
- an automated website system that records usage of our website service and online tools
This data is obviously useful and important for statutory reporting requirements. We have developed the output statements to make them more outcome-focussed over recent years rather simple exercises in ‘widget-counting’ that deliver an account of inputs and outputs only. Over time our plan is that data collected for administrative purposes becomes more qualitative and creates an evidence base of meaningful outcomes that demonstrates the real value added to the New Zealand economy and society by better career and training decision-making.
2. Data collected for improving the quality of the services
Each year we contract an independent company to carry out an extensive evaluation of our services and resources. This evaluation reports back against a series of output/outcome performance measures set out in our contract with Government. In the year 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006 the evaluation demonstrated that we had achieved and exceeded all of our performance measures. This is the chief source information regarding the outcomes of our work, e.g. in 2005-06 86% of targeted New Zealanders who received tailored career planning said they gained improved career management skills and further clarification of their future career plans. The evaluation methodology is based around sample surveys of the individuals and groups who use our services and resources. Survey participants are asked not only about their opinions of Career Services and to rate their levels of satisfaction, but also about how they think our services can be improved. Their feedback provides us with a rich source of information from which we are able to redesign and enhance our services and resources to better meet the needs of our clients where required.
In addition, we also conduct ad hoc surveys and data collection from time to time to improve the quality of services. A recent example includes market research for the purpose of ascertaining the following:
- How our audiences perceive our current brand, marketing resources and organisation, and how this could be improved within the new range of marketing and advertising material that will be produced,
- Insights into how to connect with our audiences better and which mediums are most effective,
- How we should present ourselves and what messages we should communicate for different audiences, and
- Information about what makes our audiences want to use Career Services – i.e. what would make them pick up the phone, log in, or visit us and way in which we could build on that.
Building evidence for new work
Another example is the research we undertook last year into Understanding the Information Needs of Users and Parents in Tertiary Education Decision-Making. Its purpose was to provide a comprehensive overview of the types of tertiary decisions that users were making, to review the information sources they were considering and accessing throughout the decision process, and to identify areas where users’ information-seeking needs were not being met. The findings that resulted were used to make a successful bid for additional funding from Budget 2006 for an initiative entitled Better Tertiary and Trade Training Decisions. This initiative will allow us to expand and enhance our existing website and increase the availability of quality, personal advice to learners and their influencers.
3. Data collected to show the efficacy of the careers interventions
Our annual evaluations also fall into this category of data collection, particularly as the results are used to prove the effectiveness and outcomes of our services to Government and the wider public.
Still other ad hoc evaluations have collected further data to demonstrate the efficacy of our services. These include two evaluations, one internal and the other external, of a two-year pilot in schools project (Designing Careers) designed to deliver individual Learning and Career Plans for all Year 10 students, and for selected “at risk” students in Years 11 – 13 at 75 schools around New Zealand. Our own internal evaluation and that undertaken by an external agency were used to inform a build new pilot which government has further invested in for the next two years. This initiative will build on the previous pilot by helping 100 more schools develop or enhance their career education programme based on the best practice from the previous pilot. .
Finally, we very recently conducted a brief ‘taster’ survey to test the feasibility of re-contacting clients by telephone a year to 18 months after their initial contact with Career Services, and whether this was an effective means of obtaining useful feedback. We undertook this survey for the purpose of learning how difficult it will be to carry out research into longer term outcomes resulting from better informed career planning and decision-making. It is our intention to begin scoping the possibility of conducting longitudinal research to establish a firmer evidence base of positive career outcomes with a focus on the longer term outcomes of website and phone interventions. We believe that this is an area where there is limited information and evidence to base good return on investment decisions in the future.
4. Other data held by other organisations
Other government and non-government organisations also occasionally conduct research or collect data that contain an element of careers interventions which can be useful to developing a greater understanding of our services. These include:
· Ministry of Education (www.minedu.govt.nz)
Please do not hesitate to advise us if you would be interested in obtaining any other reports mentioned here. You can do so by contacting our Senior Policy and Planning Advisor, Andrew Barton, at email@example.com