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More strategic approach to career guidance needed from government, says new report

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A more strategic and professional approach to career guidance is needed from the government, according to a new report published by the University of Derby.

The report, titled Investing in Careers – What is Career Guidance Worth?’, calls on the government to offer everyone in England access to lifelong career guidance backed by a ‘Career Guidance Guarantee’.

The document sets out three key principles that should guide the future of the careers system: a more strategic approach to ensure that public money is being well spent, a need to professionalise the system and guarantee quality, and an increase in resources and assurance that it is being directed to where it is most needed.

The report was launched by the Career Policy Development Group – sector organisations who have a strategic interest in career guidance, of which the University is a founding member – at an event with cross-party think tank Policy Connect and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills, Careers & Employment at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognal.

Professor Siobhan Neary, Head of The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby and a co-author of the report, said:

“The Career Guidance Guarantee’s overarching message is simple: career guidance helps people manage their life, learning and work”.

“As well as personal development, career guidance has an important role to play in supporting the efficient functioning of the labour market, skills alignment and enhanced economic and social benefits. Our report demonstrates that investment into career guidance has decreased over the years, and we are calling on the government to recognise the benefits of the Guarantee and how it can contribute to developing a more cohesive career guidance system in England.”

According to the report, £68 is currently spent per person, per year on the delivery of career guidance to young people, with an equivalent figure in 2009 (adjusted for inflation) of £159. £26 per person, per year is currently spent on the delivery of career guidance to adults. The equivalent figure in 2009 (adjusted for inflation) was £35.

To implement the ‘Career Guidance Guarantee’ in full, the report states an additional £315m needs to be spent on youth careers services and an additional £235m on adult careers services. This equates to an average additional spend of £47 per person on career guidance for young people and an additional £6 per head on working age adults.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, who was part of the event at the House of Lords, said:

“Career guidance is a powerful tool when resourced well. This report clearly outlines a costed blueprint for government and demonstrates the significant difference a small amount of additional investment could make to enhance the lives of young people and adults in England.

“This way of thinking about career guidance will, we hope, change the narrative – from seeing career guidance essentially as a cost, to one of seeing it as an investment which will have a significant impact on individuals and the economy.”

The Career Guidance Guarantee calls for six actions that could transform the provision of career guidance in England:

  1. Publish a careers strategy – leading to a clearer and more coherent system that guarantees all-age access to career guidance
  2. Finish the Gatsby Revolution
  3. Challenge youth unemployment
  4. Develop graduates’ careers
  5. Support lifelong career development
  6. Ensure quality and professionalism

The new report follows the 2021 report, Transition to Ambition, which advocated for changes to England’s career guidance system so that as many people as possible are properly supported to manage their careers more effectively.

For more information about The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), visit here.

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