How careers advice has been transformed to support students in South Yorkshire during pandemic

Trying to decide which career pathway to go down when you finish your GCSEs or A-Levels can be hard at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 3:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 9:15 am

Normally at this time of year teenagers across South Yorkshire would be gaining a wealth of advice, information and guidance in school in order to help them make informed choices about their future learning and personal development.

But with schools closed due to the current coronavirus situation this, unfortunately, is not the case leaving many feeling nervous or unsure where to turn to for help and support.

As they face these unprecedented and uncertain times, they are now being urged to make the most of the resources that are available to them online.

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HeppSY careers advisors would usually go into schools and colleges to talk about future pathways and advise on higher education options

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South Yorkshire's UniConnect programme, HeppSY, works with 47 schools and colleges across South Yorkshire offering personal face-to-face careers guidance and group sessions.

In response to the pandemic, it has worked swiftly to bolster its digital outreach which, right now, is hoped will prove invaluable to students who are making decisions about their future.

Amy Blenkiron, Senior Higher Education Progression Adviser for HeppSY (The Higher Education Progression Partnership South Yorkshire), said: “We are a team of five careers advisors which we think is quite unusual for a UniConnect programme.

HeppSY works in partnership with universities, schools, academies, colleges, training providers, local authorities, community groups, employers and representative bodies across South Yorkshire to support students

"As far as we’re aware, HeppSY is the only one who employs careers advisors within the university’s respective careers teams.

"In normal life, we would go out and would do a lot of one-to-one careers appointments with students and group sessions which obviously now has completely changed and what we’ve got now is a completely digital offer.

"We've launched a ‘Here to Help’ offer which is a digital resource all on the HeppSY website which has at least three resources per year group for everyone we work with, from Year 9 to Year 13.

"It's a mix of careers guidance based resources – thinking about their decision making and if they may want to go to university or not.

Students can access an array of digital resources and remote support through HeppSY during the pandemic

"It also includes options after school because we’d usually be delivering that at this time of year. We’ve also got a central team of recent graduates who have also put resources on there to help, such as a budgeting task for Year 12 because that would be something they would be delivering, again, at this time of year.”

Funded by the Office for Students, HeppSY works to help school and college students aged between 13 and 19 in South Yorkshire, who are most at risk of missing out on higher education, including degree-level courses at further education colleges and universities, and higher and degree level apprenticeships.

It also recently launched an advice line which students in Year 13 can call if they wish to speak with a HeppSY careers advisor, a service which is available in addition to what is already on offer within their school.

Furthermore all students, regardless of their age or school, can use the new chat function on the HeppSY website to ask questions about future careers or routes into higher education.

Students can gain guidance from HeppSY advisors alongside the support they are getting from their schools

“The advice line, the chat function and the resources are all self-led,” Ms Blenkiron added. “Students can do them with parents or a friend if they wanted to. It was a thought out process, we've taken sessions that we would usually be delivered this time of year or looked at sessions that we know students would probably need.

"For example, for Year 11 we’d usually do a session on ‘what are my options after school’.

"We’d usually do that at the start of Year 11 when they are picking their options. However, with the changes, someone who was thinking that they might want to get an apprenticeship may now also be looking at college courses, so that’s one of the resources we’ve put on in light of what is going on.

"Getting good information, advice and guidance at the moment is really important so that young people have up to date information and fully understand their options and choices, whatever stage they're at.

"Ensuring young people feel confident about their next steps is one of HeppSY's aims - enabling students to make well informed decisions in the future.

"The schools and colleges we work with have amazing careers staff working in them, working in challenging times to guide students through their options and help them along their decision making journey.

"HeppSY's Here to Help resources and ways of getting in touch with us are an additional layer of support, so that no young person feels they have nowhere to get advice or be able to talk about their choices.”

For more information visit the HeppSY website.

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