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Careers2030: Why it is time for the higher education careers sector to start looking to the future again

  • 18 June 2021
  • By Joanne Patterson

This blog was kindly contributed by Joanne Patterson UK Head of Marketing & Research at Handshake. You can find Handshake and Joanne on Twitter @JoinHandshakeUK @coxetter

Understandably, for many professionals in higher education careers services, the past 15 months or so has largely been focused on staying stable and keeping the lights on, responding to a previously unimaginable amount of short-term change.

But with lockdown measures being eased it’s now starting to feel like we are turning a corner. And naturally, the sector will be keen to start reflecting on best practice and thinking about the future again – making up for lost time but also factoring in how the acceleration in technology and collaboration at a distance will affect careers services.

Yet they will be doing this against the backdrop of a tough economic climate. The stakes have rarely been higher for higher education careers services professionals, with instability and unemployment challenges expected for students and graduates for some time to come. What’s more, inequalities are likely to be amplified as competition for roles intensifies. This means the responsibility to create a more equitable university to career transition for every student remains, but is becoming ever more challenging to deliver.

The role these staff on the front lines play will be crucial to the country bouncing back in a way that helps to enable a fairer, more equal society – and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for those staff will form a key part of that.

While it is widely agreed that giving careers services staff time away from their day job to think about their practice is important, budget cuts mean that finding the money to engage with professional development can be hard. That’s why at Handshake, we’re eager to put our money where our mouth is and fund CPD sessions for 200 careers services staff at UK universities. We are hosting Careers2030: Designing the Future of Early Careers which runs from 28 June to 15 July.

Careers2030 is a free to attend accredited Design Thinking Bootcamp for emerging leaders, which will bring career services operators together for an interactive workshop to define the future of the sector and graduate recruitment.

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions and redefine problems. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods and will be the structure within which participants will present their vision of the future of the higher education careers sector.

The event will culminate with a virtual celebration and award ceremony where winning teams will receive donations to their institution of £1,500 per person to implement their idea.

We are also for the first time announcing our judges, who will decide which careers services professionals will win the grand prize. These are:

  • Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer, ISE
  • Debbie McVitty, Editor, Wonkhe
  • Paul Gratrick, Head of Operations, University of Liverpool, AGCAS Director
  • Greg Wade, Higher Education Policy Adviser, Universities UK
  • Zuleikha Chikh, President, UCLan Students’ Union
  • Mike Grey, Head of University Partnerships, Gradconsult
  • Dr. Brooke Storer-Church, Head of Skills at Office for Students

Working together, careers services professionals, universities, businesses, think-tanks and other institutions have the power to make the future brighter for every young person, regardless of their background.

‍‍To register for the event, please click here.


  1. Iwi Ugiagbe-Green says:

    This is fantastic to see! However, it is disappointing to see that academics (and others), are seemingly not included in this opportunity (not the funding per se – but the actual opportunity to shape ideas). I certainly think “design thinking” of this nature should be inclusive & collaborative. Problematisation and associated solutions thinkings of the future of careers should involve different agents involved in education and industry. Hopefully, the winning projects will feature these elements, even in the absence of the agents being part of the thinking.

  2. John Bird says:

    Maybe, as Bernardo indicates, the future has been slowly cancelled!

  3. John Bird says:

    A bad misspelling….Berardi!!

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