Innovations in Career Guidance –
Mental Toughness and its
central role in Employability
AQR & Reachfor
Bethan Greenall & Kath Wyke
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What is MENTAL TOUGHNESS?
“A personality trait which determines in
large part how people deal with challenge,
stressors and pressure .... irrespective of
prevailing circumstances”
It’s universal – it’s important for everything we do.
Employability is about…
Abilities – how you carry out certain types of mental activities
Interests and motivations – what really interests you?
Personality – how you react to people, situations and environments
Personal Work Characteristics – characteristics displayed in work
e.g. others may see you as risk-taking, optimistic in outlook, careful,
cautious etc.
Knowledge – information acquired through education and
experience
Skills – something specific you can do to a certain standard
Work Environment – where and how you work
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Why is mental toughness important?
 Performance – explains up to 25% of the variation in attainment
 Behaviour – more engaged, more positive, more “can do”
 Wellbeing – more contentment, better stress management , less bullying
Attainment - Transition – Aspirations - Retention –
Employability - Social Mobility – Career Guidance
Is it important? Yes!
Pulls together notions which are important and are current
but are nearly all poorly defined and poorly evidenced.
Character
Resilience
Grit
Curiosity
Tenacity
Temperament
Attitude
Mental Toughness is well evidenced and solid. It embraces all of the above.
 APPG on Social Mobility 2013
 National Career Council 1st Report – July 2013
 Cabinet Office 2013
Performance
 Perform better in targeted settings – MBO,
exams and tests
 Produce better reports, coursework
 Achieve more – cover more subjects/things
 Work harder
 Competitive
Studies show that up to 25% of the variation in an
individuals performance on tests can be explained
by their mental toughness
Behaviour
 More positive – “can do”
 More likely to respond positively to change
 More likely to engage – will volunteer for
activities
 More likely to accept responsibility
 Better disciplined - attendance
Wellbeing
 Deal better with stress and pressure
 Sleep better!
 Less likely to develop mental health issues
 Can relax even after the most challenging time
 Report much less bullying behaviour
 Less likely to consciously adopt bullying
behaviour
Employability (and aspirations)
 More ambitious
 Set higher standards
 More confident
 Adopt a competitive approach
 More likely to get a job
2011 employability study showed that more mentally tough graduates
found work:
More quickly
Related to what they wanted to do
And performed better in the role
Transition
Deal better with
 New settings - schools/jobs/employers
 New programmes & courses
 New managers/tutors/colleagues, etc.
 New experiences and opportunities
 Change programmes, takeovers and mergers
Completion on Time and on Target
 More stick-ability – will complete programmes
 Better at project management
 Take setbacks and change in their stride
 Will respond to failure by saying “I can do
better ….”
The Four C’s
Mental Toughness has 4 components:
 Challenge
 Control
 Commitment
 Confidence
Which combine to provide an overall measure of
Mental Toughness
Think of these as aspects of mindset.
Commitment
“stick-ability”. Describes to what
extent you will “make promises”
and the extent to which you will
keep those promises.
Those promises can be made to
others or to themselves.
When asked to do something to a target by a
certain time & date do you instinctively think:
 I’ll go for that and I’ll do what it takes or
 I’ll never manage that – I’ll look stupid
when I fail.
Control
“Can do”. Describes to what
extent you believe you shape
what happen to you and manage
your emotions when doing it.
There are two components :
 Life-Control
 Emotional Control
When asked to do something , is your default
response:
 I can do it …. without needing to check if it
is possible
 I’ll stay in control of my emotions
Challenge
“drive”. Describes to what extent
you challenges, change, adversity
& variety as opportunities or as
threats.
When asked to do something significant or
challenging is your immediate response to say:
 That’s great – I look forward to whatever
emerges or
 Oh no! I like things the way they are – I'm
frightened by what might happen.
Confidence
“Self Belief”. Describes to what
extent you believe you have the
ability to deal with what will face
you and the inner strength to
stand your ground when needed.
There are two components :
 Confidence in Abilities
 Interpersonal Confidence
When doing something and you face a
problem, is your default response:
 I have the capability to plough on?
 I’ll deal with those who get in my way?
The Four C’s – a summary
The MTQ48 provides a description of a young person’s…
 Control
 Commitment
 Challenge
 Confidence
- I really believe I can do it
- I can keep my emotions in check when doing it
- I promise to do it
- I’ll do what it takes to deliver it (hard work)
- I am motivated to do it – I can see the benefit
- Setbacks make me stronger
- I believe I have the ability to do it
- I can stand my ground if I need to
Together these give rise to Mental Toughness
What traits are the most important to
employers?
AQR Survey, 2013
Top 5…
Team working
Challenge
Control “Can do”
Conscientiousness
Commitment
…Character and mindset count
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Measuring Mental Toughness
MTQ48 Questionnaire
2 versions:
1. Occupational (all ages)
2. Young persons (age 11- 17)
 Normative, valid and reliable measure
 On-line format (can print off questionnaires)
 Easy to use
 On-line facility also helps to manage data
 Short inexpensive licensed user training (2 days)
MTQ48 with Young People and Adults –
examples of programmes
 National Careers Service
 Work with Offenders
 Mid Life Review
 New Horizons
 Reachfor Right Track
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Using MTQ48 to Measure and
Develop Offender Resilience
Aims/Objectives
To better prepare offenders in custody for transition to Education Training and
Employment upon release
To develop the online Employability Health Check tool for Virtual Campus
To enable offenders take increased ownership of their ETE Self Action Plan (SAP)
Meeting the Equality Duty: By maximising the impact of existing ETE services and
increasing offender ownership of the SAP to improve equality in outcomes and
opportunity for offenders leaving custody.
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The Offender Journey
Introducing the concept to Offenders
Providing feedback and action planning – data protection
Further coaching and support – the interface with relevant
‘preparation for work’ qualifications and materials
Continued support and effective referral
Relevance and impact – research and evidence
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Benefits and outcomes
MTQ48 provides a ‘hook’ for engaging the individual Offender
The project provides a personalised approach to continued progression
The project has proved effective in helping Offenders become more
confident; giving them the self belief to raise and frame their vocational
aspirations
Supported by coaching activities, as well as expert face to face
information, advice and guidance
Links to secure recording systems to develop an holistic profile of the
Offender and their journey (including qualifications, employment ideas
and referral information).
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NAS Mid Life Review
A Free Mid Career Review at Age 40+
• Changing careers, looking for a fresh challenge, thinking about promotion,
currently unemployed or inactive, not sure what’s out there, want to learn
new skills, need direction, up skill and gain qualifications, help with your
next steps or to overcome barriers
The Mid Life Career Review seeks to:
• Enable customers to follow up on ideas
• Help to realise your aspirations
• Enhance confidence and motivation
• Empower customers to take control of your future
• Delivery - 1 session per week over 4 weeks, providing quality and expert
face-to face support to help individuals make successful transitions.
• Timings and venues are flexible according to customer need (twilight and
evening sessions are available).
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Programme Overview
 Delivered across Liverpool City Region (DWP Innovation Fund)
 Working with 14 -24 year olds who are in care or leaving care,
young offenders or have a learning difficulty/disability
 Raising aspirations, attainment and improving behaviour and
attendance
 Developing individual resilience using MTQ48
 Exposure to the world of work and ‘end to end’ programme
including employment opportunities
Outcomes to date
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2012/13 academic year
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Worked with 1150 pupils in Key Stage 4

27% have had increase in attendance

42% have had increase in improved behaviour
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285 pupils have achieved our OCN level 1 qualification in Skills for Further Learning and
Employment – 80% pass rate to date.
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20% of the Year 11 pupils we worked with achieved equivalent of five A* - C at GCSE
against a 5% target and a further 65% achieved at least one Level against a target of
40%.
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The Right Track Programme
What is Right Track?...
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A 10 week project for Years 6, 9, 10 & 11 students…
1-2-1 support from a Right Track Adviser
Group work activities
Assessment of mental toughness and resilience
Individual coaching to support development
Support with behaviour, attendance and achievement
Careers Information advice & guidance
Action planning & goal setting
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The Right Track Programme
What has Right Track achieved so far?...
 74% of young people can see the benefit of school after being on Right
Track – an increase of 50% from the start of the programme
 74% of young people who knew what they wanted to do after leaving
school – again an increase of 50% from the start of the programme
 Evidence collected from teaching staff showed that 48% of participants
demonstrated an improvement in class-work following a Right Track
Intervention
 68% of those who had an attendance issue prior to Right Track showed an
Improvement
 51% who demonstrated low levels of mental toughness before the Right
Track programme showed an improvement after the programme
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Mental Toughness Development
The Mental Toughness model is a fairly complete process
Understanding – the model provides a structure around which to assess
an important requirement for performance and wellbeing
Diagnosis – the measure enables diagnosis, assessment and
measurement at a useful level – the 4Cs
What are my issues? What are their implications? What will I seek to
develop/improve? Where is it best to start?
Interventions – ability to direct interventions better and to select
appropriate interventions –works with any intervention strategies.
Evaluation – the ability to measure change and to relate it to action.
Mental Toughness Development
- Positive Thinking
affirmations,
The underlying principle
- we are what we think.
think three positives,
turning negatives into positives,
self talk
thought stopping
looking at role models
what will I do tomorrow?
attitude ladder
Mental Toughness Development
- Visualisation
guided imagery
The underlying principle
- We can imagine success or we
can imagine failure and we
can learn from that.
pink elephant
change your environment
target practice
penalty shoot out
Mental Toughness Development
- Anxiety Control
controlled distraction
The underlying principle
controlled breathing
Psychological responses such as fear
& worry have a physiological
consequence controlling those
physiological responses can help us
to manage the mental responses.
muscular relaxation
ear tap
smiling and laughing
self hypnosis
sleep
anchoring
Mental Toughness Development
- Goal Setting
smart goals
The underlying principle
Give meaning and direction as
well as fuel and energy to
achieve objectives & approach
new challenges.
balancing goals
setting milestones
Mental Toughness Development
- Attention Control
minimising interruptions
The underlying principle
Focus, sustained attention and
concentration, enables us to work
better and for longer
Interruptions and distractions
undermine that capability
concentration
stork stand
shut out distractions
Mental Toughness Development
Kogan Page
April 2012
Nov 2013
June 2014
Coming soon…
Carrus – A Career Management Tool for the 21st Century
Abilities (What)
Motivation & Drivers (Why)
Numerical
Verbal
Spatial
Mechanical
Conscientiousness
Concern for Standards
Ambition
Continuous Improvement
Continuous Personal Development
Skills in dealing with people (Who)
Skills in dealing with problems (How)
Team – working & Self Reliance
Altruism
Emotional Intelligence
Assertiveness and Cooperativeness
Problem solving
Creativity
Organisation
The measure assesses:
4 areas of ability
12 aspects of personality based behaviour
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Any questions?
Interest slips
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Mental Toughness and its central role