Connexions Personal Adviser

The Job and What's Involved

Personal advisers working within Connexions provide a free and confidential information, advice and guidance service in England to all 13 to 19 year olds and to young people with learning difficulties or disabilities up to the age of 25.

They work to ensure that young people make a smooth transition to adulthood and working life.

Although the activities and responsibilities of individual personal advisers vary according to their qualifications and experience, their main activities include:

  • Meeting with young people to assess their needs and the level of support required.
  • Helping individuals to identify their targets and then writing a plan of action with them.
  • Providing information and advice on a range of issues.
  • Including lifestyle, money, housing, health, substance misuse, learning, training and work.
  • Encouraging young people's personal development, particularly through voluntary work.
  • Helping young people to deal with challenges affecting their learning and work opportunities.
  • Accessing specialist support services, pleading a case for a client where necessary.
  • Working with schools, colleges and other organisations as well as parents/carers and families to co-ordinate support for young people.
  • Supporting young people into work or training through contacts with employers and training organisations.
  • Keeping in regular touch with young people to review their progress.
  • Ensuring that they work towards meeting targets to reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training.
  • Using computers both for administration and record keeping and for guidance and support.

Personal advisers are likely to work in one of three ways:

  • Delivering a wide range of Connexions services including career guidance.
  • Providing more intensive and ongoing help to young people with severe problems or learning difficulties or disabilities.
  • Providing specialist advice and guidance on specific issues, like substance misuse or housing.

The work involves contact with young people on a one-to-one basis. Group work and workshops, such as talks on specific issues, also play an important part. All personal advisers work to promote equal opportunities and overcome discrimination.

Work may be based in a school, college, Connexions centre, or a mixture of these. As local traveling may be necessary, a driving licence is very useful.

Most personal advisers work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Occasional evening and weekend work may also be necessary. Employers may offer flexitime, part-time working, job sharing or term time working.

Salaries for trainee personal advisers are around £17,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The Connexions Service is delivered by 47 local Connexions partnerships throughout England. Connexions is not available in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, although Skills Development Scotland delivers a broadly similar service (see the Careers Adviser Job Guide ). There are currently around 10,000 personal advisers in the Connexions Service.

Local Connexions partnerships may be formed from organisations which include local authorities, youth services, the police and youth offending services, health authorities, employers, voluntary organisations and other private and public bodies.

Some personal advisers are employed directly by Connexions partnerships, while others are employed by contracted organisations. There is general demand for experienced personal advisers, although there may be competition for trainee posts.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, such as The Guardian (on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), and specialist magazines, such as Young People Now and Portico, the Institute of Career Guidance's vacancy bulletin, which is available online at www.icg-uk.org.

Education and Training

Entrants are normally at least 21 years of age, with experience of working with young people. A background in a relevant area such as careers advice, youth work, education, youth justice or social work is useful, but recent graduates and entrants from other occupations may also be recruited.

Entrants also need to pass a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check and be capable of study at NVQ Level 4.

It is recommended that people interested in this career should contact prospective employers before starting on a training route. Work shadowing a qualified careers adviser can provide a clear idea of what the job involves and help with applications for a training place.

Trainee personal advisers in some Connexions partnerships can start work without specific academic qualifications. There are two qualifications pathways open to them:

NVQ Level 4, in Learning, Development and Support Services for Children, Young People and those who care for them (LDSS). There is a reduction in the number of units required for those personal advisers specialising in careers, who already have the Qualification in Career Guidance (QCG).

A Foundation Degree in Working with Young People and Young People's Services is available at some universities. This can be studied for two years full time, three years part time, by distance learning or online. Entry requirements are usually a National Qualification Framework Level 3 qualification, such as two A levels or a National award, and/or relevant experience.

To become a fully-qualified personal adviser, it is necessary to complete additional training courses run by Connexions partnerships.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most personal advisers work towards NVQ Level 4 in Learning, Development and Support Services for Children, Young People and those who care for them (LDSS), whatever their level of entry.

They also complete the following national Connexions qualifications to become fully qualified:

1. Introducing Connexions - for all Connexions personal advisers. This is usually a two-day course, delivered locally.

2. Understanding Connexions Training - for all Connexions personal advisers. This is a five-and-a-half day course and includes a written assignment, which is assessed.

3. APIR (Assessment, Planning, Implementation and Review) or CAF (Common Assessment Framework) - a one-and-a-half day programme for all personal advisers to help them in assessing young people's needs. APIR or CAF should be used with all clients to help them plan a course of action.

4. The Diploma for Connexions Personal Advisers - for those working with young people who need more intensive support. It involves pre-course reading, distance learning, training days and group work, and takes about six months to complete.

Other training programmes, covering areas such as substance misuse, counselling, child protection, equal opportunities, dealing with aggressive behaviour and sexual health, have been developed locally by Connexions partnerships.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Personal advisers need to be:

  • Able to command the trust and respect of young people.
  • Be able to motivate and influence others.
  • Excellent communicators and good public speakers.
  • Open-minded and non-judgemental.
  • Good listeners and able to empathise with clients.
  • Flexible, adaptable and creative in solving problems.
  • Patient and calm, with a good sense of humour.
  • Good at teamwork and using their initiative.
  • Able to work under pressure in order to meet targets.
  • Good at organisation and time management.
  • Knowledgeable about relevant laws, e.g. child protection, confidentiality, equal opportunities.
  • Good at administration and using computers.

Your Long Term Prospects

Within Connexions, there is usually a career progression structure and it is possible to be promoted to a team leader or management role. There may also be opportunities to take on specialist posts and project work.

Some personal advisers move into related fields, such as education welfare, the care and voluntary sectors, and training young people.

Get Further Information

Connexions websites: www.connexions-direct.com

Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF),
Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT
Tel: 0870 000 2288
Website: www.dfes.gov.uk

Institute of Career Guidance (ICG), 3rd Floor, Copthall House,
1 New Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1PH
Tel: 01384 376464
Website: www.icg-uk.org

National Association of Connexions Partners (NACP),
Watsons Chambers, 5-15 Market Place, Castle Square, Shefffield S1 2GH
Tel: 0114 281 3418
Website: www.nacp.co.uk

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