From education to employment

This National Careers Week- let’s redouble our efforts to give people the careers information, advice, and guidance that they deserve

Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP)

National Careers Week 2022 gives us all a great opportunity to shine a light on the importance of good careers information, advice, and guidance (CIAG). AELP have long advocated for high quality, impartial CIAG, which is accessible for all ages, in every area of the country, offering parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes.

For too long, the national careers system has been fragmented and put far too much onus onto traditional pathways into careers – usually via college and university – when we know these are far from the only good options.

Vocational learning can mean you “earn while you learn”- gaining practical on-the-job experience and contacts alongside high quality off-the-job training.

Despite there being such a wide-range of options- in virtually every sector and from entry-level to masters’ degree equivalent, there is still unfortunately a perception that work-based learning is somehow not as useful or prestigious as academic study.

Steps to address the current imbalance in the Careers System

There are several steps that AELP believe should be taken to address the current imbalance in the careers system. Firstly, the government’s plans on compulsory careers interactions are not nearly ambitious or bold enough. We believe that there should be at least two careers meetings per pupil, per year, involving a range of further education providers. The focus should also be on the quality and outcomes of the interactions, not just the minimum number of interactions required. These should be measured and monitored effectively.

The government should continue to raise awareness in schools by investing in better workforce development for teachers. The teacher training syllabus should include strong knowledge apprenticeships and technical education, so our teaching staff are equipped with the right information to support pupils and their parents or guardians.

Schools should do more to incentivise the promotion of vocational and technical education through the inclusion of vocational progression outcomes in performance league table points to offer parity with outcomes into academic routes.

Careers Hubs are improving better relationships between schools and training providers, but more needs to be done to help foster these high-value opportunities to ensure opportunities are available everywhere.

The Baker Clause

The Baker Clause – which means schools must allow colleges and training providers access to students to inform them about all their options – is central to better CIAG. The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) is helping facilitate better collaboration between schools and providers, but far too many schools still do not comply with either the requirements or the spirit of the clause- less than half (40%) by the government’s own estimation. It is time the government made it clear to Ofsted that non-compliance of the Baker Clause should affect their inspection outcomes. This would ensure schools were focused on facilitating the kind of appropriate, impartial careers guidance that our young people deserve.

There is widespread support for more enforcement of the Baker Clause and we’ve used the Government’s Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to push our views on this. We are somewhat reassured by promises from ministers and officials on this, but we will be keeping a close eye and holding government to account.

There will also be further opportunities to advocate for better careers information and guidance over the coming months. For example, backbench Conservative MP, Mark Jenkinson, is also pushing for this through the Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill and the Education Select Committee is asking for evidence to support their inquiry into careers education in schools.

The Technical Education landscape can be tricky to navigate

Finally, we know that the technical education landscape can be tricky to navigate for careers professionals and young people alike. Which is why we’ve teamed up with the Careers Enterprise Company to produce resources for careers advisers and the people they support, so that everyone access the best advice possible, no matter what education setting they are in.

The resources cover various technical qualifications and how they sit together, occupational maps to show what a job actually entails, plus descriptions of each type of learning option and how to apply. These are available completely free of charge over on our Sector Share website.

Good quality, impartial and accessible careers information, advice, and guidance is pivotal to getting individuals on the right career path, with appropriate training in place. Let’s use National Careers Week 2022 to redouble our efforts to give people the support that they deserve.

Jane Hickie is Chief Executive of The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

AELP is a national membership body, proudly representing around 800 organisations. AELP members support thousands of businesses and millions of learners in England by delivering a wide range of training, vocational learning, and employability programmes.

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