Far too many highly educated young workers end up in jobs that require less education or fewer skills than they have. In Canada, between 20 and 30 per cent of post-secondary education (PSE) graduates work in low-skilled occupations. Why do so many graduates find themselves in a job situation that does not meet their expectations and skills? What are the best ways to help them reach their full potential in the labour market and get their career in motion?
The CareerMotion demonstration project addresses these important questions and provides strong evidence that the labour market competencies of young workers can be improved by providing them with Web-based job search and career planning tools that are tailored to their needs.
The results on the effectiveness of the career development tools offered through the CareerMotion Web site speak for themselves. SRDC’s rigorous evaluation of the program shows that the tools significantly helped participants improve their confidence and their ability to make informed career decisions. After only five weeks of use, CareerMotion’s participants exhibited higher levels of confidence in undertaking a search for a new career, greater clarity about what kind of career they wanted to find, and better planning to find that career. Compared to career development services that are delivered in person at much greater cost, the size of CareerMotion impacts speaks to the effectiveness of offering Web-based interventions to help individuals develop the competencies necessary to make changes in their career trajectories.
Even one year after their participation, the majority of participants who had access to the CareerMotion Web site reported that the Web tools they used during the study continued to help them define their career goals. In addition, they reported being considerably more engaged in job search activities than their counterparts who did not have access to the Web site. Overall, participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the CareerMotion program and its use of Web-based tools to assist them in their career search.
Participants’ overall satisfaction with CareerMotion and its impact on their competencies and confidence in making career-related decisions suggests that young PSE graduates who need help in achieving their career objectives may be very receptive to using online career services. Furthermore, the finding that the program had a greater effect on the most frequent users of the Web site leads us to believe that it is important to examine ways to encourage greater usage of such tools and thereby increase their effectiveness. The popular suggestion among participants to supplement the Web tools with coaching from a trained professional or advisor is certainly worth considering.
CareerMotion represents a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of providing labour market information within an online learning framework to help PSE graduates make better use of their skills in the labour market. The project recruited over 500 PSE graduates who felt that they were underemployed or overqualified for the work they were doing. Participants who signed up for the project were offered the opportunity to access a custom-designed career development services Web site for five weeks which helped them understand their own skills and career aspirations. The Web tools were designed by career counsellors to aid participants in developing an understanding of their current career reality while equipping them with the information, skills, and confidence that are necessary to make better career decisions.
CareerMotion was carried out as a field experiment. Participation in the project was voluntary and volunteers who signed up were randomly assigned to either a program or comparison group. Program group members were given access to the Web-based career tools while comparison group members served as a counterfactual, providing an unbiased determination of the effects of the intervention.
The evaluation of the impact of the CareerMotion Web-based tools on participants’ confidence and ability to make informed career decisions used multiple lines of evidence including three participant surveys, Web site usage data, and participant focus groups. The impact analysis relies on data collected through the baseline and two follow-up surveys delivered over the Internet. The effectiveness of the CareerMotion tools is measured using validated psychometric scales and questionnaires to assess participants’ competencies in making decisions about their career and engaging in job search activities that can improve their employment situation.
The CareerMotion project came to an end with the release of the final report, How Web-based technologies can improve the career choices of young people, on
January 23, 2012. In February 2009, SRDC published Improving Career Decision-Making of Young Workers, which presents the analytical framework for the study and puts forward a set of guiding principles for the design of the CareerMotion online job search and career planning tools.
CareerMotion was funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Read the full report.
For more information about CareerMotion, contact Jean-Pierre Voyer, SRDC president (613-237-3169).