Matching Programs

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					Focus on ICT: Matching programs fall into
Pete Hulse
Pete Hulse has worked in the careers education and guidance field for many years,
recently for Careersoft, and now works as an independent consultant specialising in
using ICT in careers work. He has long been associated with ACEG, including serving
on the Council for several years, being Journal Editor and now as one of our national


On two occasions in recent months, at conference presentations about the launch of
the IAG strategy, I have heard senior people from the DCSF say that matching
programs are no longer relevant and have limited use in IAG.

Their reasoning behind this is;
  that the nature of work is changing so rapidly
  that new jobs are coming into being at an increasingly rapid rate

Therefore, they argue, it becomes impossible to match a person to a career area,
especially those who will not enter the workforce for a number of years. There are
figures that show that many of the most common occupations these days were not
even around ten years ago. And whilst this is true, for example just think of the
mobile telecommunications industry, does this mean that matching programs that
suggest job titles have little use in IAG because the number of new job titles is
increasing all the time?

I would argue that they do still have a place, especially as in the same presentation
the department states that we need to raise aspirations and broaden students’ ideas
about future career paths.

There are two types of matching software programs: interest inventories such as
Kudos; and psychometric tools such as Pathfinder and Prefinio, the only difference
being that psychometric tools have been statistically tested for reliability and validity.
Both types generate a list of ‘matched’ occupations based on the information that the
user puts in. Does the DCSF think that each user looks at the top match in their list
and just chooses that? This would be very poor practice indeed.

The matched list needs to be looked at as a whole, so that patterns and common
themes can be spotted. Yes, the new occupations that will be around in 2020 will not
be included but they will at least be related to some of those on the list, which can
provide a starting point for a career path in that sector. The matched list needs to be
discussed in detail and viewed as a whole, rather than focussing on just the top

As far as raising aspirations goes, what better way to illustrate the range of career
areas worth looking at than going through a matching program, especially if you can
change the level of qualifications to illustrate that the more qualifications you have
the better paid you are likely to be. Students have a limited experience of different
career titles and using a matching program opens up completely new areas of work to

Watch out for a future column on making the most of matching programs – my guess
at the moment is that you and your students are not getting full value from the one
you are using at the moment.

Pete would love to hear your views so contact him at:

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