HE careers coaching develops goal-setting skills in Uni Connect learners 

Students are developing greater self-confidence to make decisions about their future thanks to a project being delivered by Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) Uni Connect in partnership with C&K Careers. 

Throughout their time in school and college, students are exposed to a wide variety of different careers and pathways information and experiences. However, it can be challenging and time-consuming for learners to unpick all this information and navigate the right pathway for them. 

GHWY Uni Connect developed the HE Careers Coaching project to support students from underrepresented groups in Higher Education (HE) to make better informed choices that focus on overcoming potential barriers to progression. It aims to increase student confidence about their ability to make decisions, and their feeling of control over their life. It aims to improve their self-efficacy through reviewing the Uni Connect and careers activities that students have experienced and plan their next steps to progress in their studies and career goals. 

The programme, which was co-created with learners, is currently being delivered from March until June 2024. It will benefit up to 120 year 10-13 students in eight schools and colleges in the West Yorkshire area.  

HE Careers Coaching has four key strands: it uses award-winning careers resources; explains the basic principles that make a strong goal; pairs students with an experienced careers coach; and encourages reflective thinking to achieve results. 

James Davidson, GHWY Progression Officer and lead Careers Coach on the project, said: “We chose goal setting to focus on as it lies at the heart of education and personal development. If you can set strong goals, and achieve them, you can gain access to many opportunities that might otherwise not be an option.  

“The design was intended to be purposefully challenging, and to go above and beyond a regular careers guidance appointment. In principle, setting a goal sounds really easy but actually, creating a good, clear goal and ensuring a series of helpful actions are in place to achieve it can be quite a challenge. Furthermore, a specific outcome requires specific resources, so after some research we developed sessions as easy to deliver as possible.” 

One student reflected after their session: “I will ask friends, family and teachers to identify skills and strengths they think I have.” Another student’s next steps were, “to research into job roles (and sectors) that might link to the skills I have identified.” 

Early evaluation for the project has provided positive feedback and examples of student growth, both of which are encouraging for any potential future delivery.  

Sophie Elizabeth Smith, GHWY’s Data, Evaluation and Impact Project Officer, said: “Evaluation of HE Careers Coaching is focused around developing students’ self-efficacy as well as their understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to their options.  

“Wider literature, as well as GHWY’s results, show that careers coaching has a big impact on project aims. In turn, career self-efficacy is a key factor in career outcomes. A learner with high career self-efficacy is more likely to have high expectations for themselves and are therefore more likely to seek out opportunities.” 

A full evaluative report will be published after delivery has been completed. Please contact ghwy@admin.ac.uk if you would like to know more about the project.  


Jenny Scannell, GHWY Area Manager and Project Officer; James Davidson, GHWY Progression Officer, and Sophie Elizabeth Smith, GHWY Project Officer (Data, Evaluation and Impact)