You may remember being asked by a careers adviser when you were 16 what you wanted to do? Some people have an answer to hand and have always known what they want to do. But for most of us, the question is bewildering. How could I possibly know?
It is a phenomenon well known to behavioural psychologists referred to as ‘choice overload’. It happens when you confront someone with an important decision but no sensible way of making a choice.
It is an effect that is less to do with lack of information than with too much information and the wrong sorts of information. Young people are not short of information about careers. In addition to advice from school, home and friends, there are numerous sources of online information designed to help them make a decision. But as our latest research shows, it is not making the task of decision making easier – indeed it is often having the opposite effect by adding to the feeling that there is no possible way of making sense of it all.
The moments of choice research report describes the experiences of young people facing career decisions and draws lessons from it to inform policies on use of data and careers information. It has also prompted us to look at how we as an organisation can respond to the problem. We have set out our ideas for this in the accompanying discussion document a response to the moments of choice research and are inviting all interested parties to comment on, or contribute to, the development of these proposal