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New resource launch:                                     Careers, Work and Employment

New resource launch: Careers, Work and Employment

On the 11th of January 2023 the new Talking Mats resource, Careers, Work and Employment will be launched with an online seminar. Alison Cuddington, Speech and Language Therapy Team Leader with Autism East Midland and one of our Licenced Trainers has written about her involvement in developing the resource with staff and students at Sutherland House School.

The context

I work as a Speech and Language Therapy Team Leader at Sutherland House School, a specialist school run by Autism East Midlands.  Myself and the team worked on the development of a new resource with Talking Mats looking at providing students at the school the opportunity to communicate their opinions on topics relating to careers.

Careers provision in England is driven by the 8 benchmarks outlined in the 2014 Gatsby ‘Good Career Guidance report’.  These are:  

  1. A stable careers programme 
  1. Learning from career and labour market information 
  1. Addressing the needs of each pupil 
  1. Linking curriculum learning to careers 
  1. Encounters with employers and employees 
  1. Experiences of workplaces 
  1. Encounters with further and higher educations 
  1. Personal guidance 

Our school was looking to provide careers and education guidance in a way that followed this framework whilst supporting the communication needs of our students. The Careers, Work and Employment resource does this. The complete resource supports careers advisors to work with students in meeting Benchmark 8, ‘Personalise Guidance’, however other benchmarks are more specifically met through the 3 topics:

  • Readiness to work
  • Skills
  • Preferences

Readiness to work                             

This topic asks the thinker (our students) to consider aspects of health, sensory stimuli, communication, supports etc when thinking about the workplace.  Asking students to reflect on these will help them explore appropriate work opportunities, see reasons to engage in activities, and work on areas that are a challenge to their future aspirations.  This will enable students to be signposted appropriately and participate in building a careers programme developed around their specific profile (Benchmark 3).


This topic looks at how a student perceives their own skill set. I found the flexibility of this topic reflected several of the Gatsby benchmarks. For staff, understanding if a student can accurately appraise their own skills will help them amend the careers programme accordingly (Benchmark 3)

My experience has shown that students do not always link their current learning to future employment opportunities. Using this topic allows the introduction of conversations around skills; reflection on strengths and who to approach for help with a skill etc (Benchmark 4)

Thinking about what skillsa student might want to use in a job will help staff attange work encounters/ experiences that are relevant. This can be revisited following a work encounter or experience to help find out if the specific skills were applicable and indeed remain important for an individual after experiencing them in the workplace. (Benchmark 5,6)

This topic also has potential to compare staff / student views on an individual’s areas of strengths and those needing development. Often students do not see the potential that teachers do and this is important feedback.

Work preferences

This topic considers aspects of a job that may or may not be important to an individual; for example being self-employed or working as part of a large company as well as life values. Knowing these preferences allows staff to arrange appropriate work experience placements. Carrying out a mat pre and post work placement will help demonstrate how important these preferences are to a student (Benchmark 6)

For anyone who missed our launch seminar Click Here to find a recording of the session