online CAREERS portal My World of Work, which was once dismissed as a way to cut spending and limit face-to-face advice, has surprised critics by winning over the people it was feared it could replace.
A spokesman for Unison, the union which represents Skills Development Scotland careers advisers, said the SDS website was now providing a good service. The portal “complements and supports the advice and guidance process”, he added.
Meanwhile, a new report published by Education Scotland, The Use of My World of Work Web Service to Support Effective Career Planning, praises the site for its effectiveness.
The report concludes that most MyWoW sessions provide school and college students with a useful introduction to careers advice.
It adds that “an extensive range of online resources provides customers and partners with access to real-time employment and educational opportunities locally and further afield”, and says that MyWoW also provides useful information to help parents and carers support young people.
The endorsements from Unison and Education Scotland follow years of controversy since MyWoW’s launch in 2011. Both careers advisers and parents repeatedly voiced concerns that it served as a way to cut down on face-to-face careers advice.
In 2013, a report commissioned by Unison from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Educational Sociology concluded that the impact of MyWoW was limited.
The research found that less than half of the S4 students questioned had accessed MyWoW beyond an introduction or registration by March that year. The researchers concluded that it failed to provide adequate support to a diverse range of students and was not as effective as face-to-face contact.
However, the new Education Scotland report suggests that things have improved. A spokesman for the body said that most schools were “increasingly recognising the value and application of MyWoW to support young people, with their parents and carers, in making important decisions about their future learning and work goals.
“And in many colleges, staff are using MyWoW effectively and increasingly to engage learners in researching career options and exploring opportunities for further learning.”
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said the availability of online careers advice resources must be “supported by appropriate IT facilities and professional development opportunities”.
He added: “There has been a clear reduction in career staff interactions with young people in secondary schools, which has clearly had an impact. The website itself is useful but staff supporting pupils in using this resource need training and support, otherwise student use is likely to be less productive.”
Skills Development Scotland, meanwhile, welcomed the report, which depute director of digital services George Boag said recognised MyWoW as a “key careers resource for young people, their parents, carers, teachers and our partners”.
He said the report was another positive endorsement of “the support My World of Work offers to the 250,000 users of the service every month”.
“We are already building on the success of My World of Work, with a redeveloped version of the service going live later this year, which will address a number of the recommendations set out in the review,” he added.