Information, advice and guidance activities help individuals to gain information about opportunities open to them about learning or work. One can get information, advice or guidance on different issues such as housing, benefits, debt, child care, health and so on. A good information, advice or guidance (IAG) session with an advisor would explore the career, learning or work options available whilst taking into account the skills, knowledge, abilities, interests, qualifications, personal issues and enable the individual to make an informed choice on options available to them. The information, advice or guidance (IAG) worker should be identifying barriers and how to overcome them. Individuals need to have the confidence, skills and motivation to manage their own career development expectations.
Key elements for IAG are:
Provision of information
This information can be given verbally, written or in electronic format. The advantages of this is that this can be quick, however, it misses out on the merits of a discussion. The format can be a leaflet, verbally through face to face or telephone contact, internet links, redirection and sign posting to relevant organisations which can be statutory or community or voluntary agencies.
Provision of Advice
This intervention requires more information for the learner and hence is more interactive. This may include the client to access, interpret and use the information relating it to the client’s needs. Referrals to agencies or other services should ensure that the client understands why they are being referred and know how to locate the referral agency. In order to benefit from the “advice” process the client must already have a clear idea of what their needs are.
Provision of Guidance
This requires an in-depth discussion with a trained advisor who is able to assist the individual to discover, clarify, assess and understand their career goals, learning and/or progression requirements. The process should include taking the individual through a formal or informal assessment method in order to gain an understanding of their personal, education or career related development so that a sound judgement is made about the different options. Barriers should be identified and how to overcome them will enable the individual to achieve their fully potential. SMART goals should be actioned for the individual to achieve their agreed plan.
Benefits of Information, Advice or Guidance (IAG)
Good quality IAG given to a learner will assist in that individual’s retention, progression and achievement. The learners will be more focused with clear and realistic ideas on what they need to do in order to achieve their goals and check if they are on track with SMART targets developed for them. The quality IAG discussion will also have identified, addressed and removed barriers to achieve and progress.
Benefits for learning institutions in giving Information, Advice or Guidance from initial contact
Customer satisfaction and raising of the profile and reputation of the service. The individual is on the right programme and more likely to complete it.
Principles of ethical practice when giving Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)
Good practices and principles of IAG must be in place at the outset in order to be individual centred. It may sound obvious, but the more experienced an IAG worker gets the more he/she will realise how difficult this is to achieve. You may work for an organisation that does not have its own code of practice, or for a service whose values contradicts your own code of practice.
The needs of the individual must be at the forefront and not of the individual or organisation providing the service. Impartiality, independence and confidentiality are a must in providing such a service. Wherever conflict arises the individual receiving the advice must be given impartial advice and their interests first and not the organisation providing the advice. It may not be easy for the person providing the service especially where income of the organisation is at risk, for example, courses may not be full and learners are needed to enrol on the course and the IAG worker referring their client elsewhere. In some instances, “realism” may demand compromise and the IAG worker is meeting the needs of the market place rather than the client without a conscious desire to do so. The IAG worker should be aware of this and resist the pressures of the market place.
Impartiality is an essential part of good practice and a client should be made aware of an organisations or the IAG workers limitations. For a training provider giving IAG, they should make clear that other sources of support and information is available in order to be less biased or assist the individual to gain a broader view on the service they may require.
Clients ultimately have the responsibility for their choice if they are enabled to understand how to make this choice.
IAG workers can only assist individuals to make a choice on topics directly related to their area of expertise. The difficulty for the IAG worker is where the boundary lies between their role and that of another specialist. Some of their clients may need that specialist and it is good practice to refer the client on and do it sensitively.
Majority of practicing IAG workers understand the importance of equal opportunities and more to the point practice it. They need the skill to understand that there is a gap between policy statements and actual practice and moving toward changing their practice. Discrimination directly or indirectly exists and awareness of this is vital for an IAG worker.
It is good practice for an IAG worker to have training in equal opportunities and anti-oppressive practice. Understanding the legislation on equality will give the IAG worker a good grounding on how to adjust their practice and influence others working in their industry. The difficulty arises when one’s own values and beliefs are conflicting with good practice and how to avoid being judgemental or be prejudiced about the clients they serve.
IAG workers need to make a clear commitment to confidentiality and inform their clients of any limitations to confidentiality from the start of their interaction. IAG workers need to be fully aware of these limitations to confidentiality.
Careful records are essential to demonstrate to managers and funders that your work is effective and client centred. This practice also assists in evaluation of how the service can be improved. It is important that the record keeping is in line with GDPR and the Data Protection Act. One must consider what information is necessary to keep, for what purpose, how it will be used, how it will be stored and how long for.
Information, advice and guidance workers (IAG) must strive to demonstrate high standards of practice and professional integrity and BE supported by their employer and funders. IAG workers need to explore their own pre-conceptions, values and bias in order to maintain A client centred service. The role of the IAG worker is to enable their client to reach their full potential and not make judgements based on their own prejudices which can result in the outcome delivered to be restrictive and affect their client’s subsequent progress.
It is human nature to make value judgements when we meet new people and these judgements should not affect the way one perceives a client’s ability and consequently the type and amount of support given.
Jennifer Kidd* noted four ways individuals may mis-read initial contact with a client:
(adapted from a Staff Development Resource Pack for Pre-entry Guidance; SWAP, South East Scotland Access Consortium 1991) Kidd J, Assessment in Action