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Researching Careers

May 22nd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

One of the problems of applications like Survey Monkey is thatit has made it just too easy to construct a survey. The result is that we are suffering from ‘surveyitis’. Furthermore, because it is so easy now to publish and publicise surveys, far too little care goes into the development and pretesting of surveys. Recently I talked about pretests at a project meeting to be met by blank faces. Why, they asked? We do not have time for that sort of thing.

Anyway I am now wary of surveys. But I am prepared to promote this survey on careers and skills, not just because it is being undertaken by my friends from Warwick University, but also because I think this is a very worthwhile piece of research. In my experience, careers are often no where near as clear cut as they seem. Often people do not progress smoothly from one job to another. And many of the skills we use are, I would guess, learnt whilst working, rather than through formal courses. But of course this is me guessing. The research should help provide some more solid data around these issues. So please do help by filling in the survey which is available in a number of different languages.

“Have you an interesting ‘story’ to tell about your career and the skills you have you developed since starting work? We are particularly interested in people who have:

  • had stable careers within a single sector (such as engineering or health);
  • have developed skills (such as Information Technology or communication skills) which could be applied in a number of sectors;
  • had a varied work history (working in different types of jobs; different sectors; countries; not always been in full-time employment etc.);
  • have worked at one time in a job that required few formal qualifications;
  • have taken a job primarily to give you time or space to follow other interests;
  • an interesting ‘story’ to tell that may not fit any of the above!

We were wondering if you would be prepared to help with a project we are currently undertaking?  As a team of researchers from eleven European countries, we are researching how people’s careers are changing across Europe and the different paths people take to develop the knowledge and skills they use at work.  We would be very grateful if you had the time to complete an online survey (available in 11 languages).  The survey may take up to 20 minutes to complete depending on the amount of detail you wish to provide. Your identity will be treated in the strictest confidence by the research team and the information you provide will be anonymised.  The results of the study will feed into a European review of how best to support work-related learning in the light of individuals’ changing patterns of career development.  If you would like to know more please do not hesitate to contact us.  We would also be grateful if you could forward this email to contacts and colleagues who you think may also be able to help.

With many thanks in advance for your help.

European Careers Research Team (see: for core team and for details of full team”

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