Select committee warns of a “worrying deterioration” in careers guidance
Authors: Katy Jones
25 January 2013
Young people are expected to make important choices from an early age about how to navigate an increasingly complex labour market transition. Good careers advice and guidance is essential to help them to do this, but a new report from the Education Select Committee highlights a “worrying deterioration” in careers guidance following changes brought in through the Education Act in 2011.
The report raises a number of concerns about the quality of support available to young people today, resulting from the government’s decision to transfer responsibility for careers guidance to schools. There is evidence already of declining provision both in terms of the amount of guidance young people are getting and the quality of this support. What is overwhelmingly clear is that individual schools cannot be expected to deliver the level of support needed on their own. The report offers some useful recommendations for how government can ensure that schools improve their current careers guidance offer, including:
- A requirement for schools to publish an annual careers plan, which draws on the views of students, parents, employers and other learning - providers.
- A new role for the National Careers Service in capacity-building and brokering for schools.
- A minimum of one face-to-face careers interview with an independent adviser for every young person.
- A requirement for schools to set out their arrangements with local employers and how they intend to enhance them.
- Regular professional development for teachers to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the work place.
- Extension of the National Apprenticeship Service’s remit to include the promotion of apprenticeships in schools.
Our report, Raising Aspirations and Smoothing Transitions: The role of Careers Education and Careers Guidance in tackling youth unemployment, offers similar suggestions.
A careers guidance offer that is responsive to changing local labour market conditions needs to be accessible to all young people. It also needs to be available from a very young age. We welcome the Committee’s support for government’s decision to extend support to pupils in Year 8. But we would go further and support calls for education about working life to start as early as primary school. Preparation for the world of work should not be an afterthought in the education system, but should be an embedded process throughout school life and beyond.
There were certainly limitations and drawbacks to previous approaches (see our report for more discussion) - but a steadily eroding offer is not acceptable, particularly when youth unemployment in the UK remains so stubbornly high. Government must act fast to turn this situation around.
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