From education to employment

Report finds inadequate careers advice is exacerbating skills gap

The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy (ESE) has concluded that inadequate careers guidance in many English schools is exacerbating skills shortages and having a negative impact on the country’s productivity. The Sub-Committee found that too many young people are leaving education without having had the chance to fully consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the jobs market. It also judged that a host of policy changes, initiatives and new bodies introduced in recent years have failed to make serious improvements and in some cases have even been counter-productive.

The report is the first to be published by the Sub-Committee, which was formed last year (December 2015) by the Business, Innovation and Skills and Education Committees. The Sub-Committee urges the Government to incentivise schools to improve, which includes Ofsted downgrading those where careers provision is sub-standard. The Sub-committee also recommends that the Government must also untangle the unruly and complex web of organisations, service providers and websites overseeing and offering careers advice and put a single Minister in charge of provision.

The Sub-Committee welcomes the Government’s intention to soon publish its careers strategy and argues that it is a timely opportunity to finally get careers provision right.

The report, which covers schools in England, identifies a number of areas the strategy should focus on:

  • Providing incentives for schools to improve their careers provision and mechanisms for holding to account those that fail to do so
  • Taking steps to untangle the complex web of national organisations and to create efficiencies by bringing funding streams into line
  • Bringing greater coherence to the unruly market of organisations and websites offering careers information, advice and guidance services
  • Ensuring advice and guidance is grounded in accurate information about the labour market
  • Giving young people the opportunity to understand better the world of work, through encounters with employers and meaningful work experience opportunities

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee and Co-Chair comments on the findings: “At a time when it is vital we equip young people with the right skills for their working lives, it’s concerning that so many are being failed by the guidance they receive.

Careers advice should be a core part of a young person’s schooling but at the moment it is little more than a poorly thought out add-on. Schools should be incentivised to treat careers education, advice, information and guidance as a priority.

The Committee recommends Ofsted plays a bigger role in ensuring careers guidance is up to scratch by downgrading those who do not deliver high quality provision. A school should not be graded as ‘good’ if its careers provision is inadequate.”

Iain Wright, Chair of the Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee and Co-Chair of the ESE Sub-Committee, said: “The world of business and work is changing rapidly. There is huge choice in the career paths young people could embark upon and rapid change also means that there will be opportunities for jobs and professions in new and emerging industries.

In this context, young people and their parents need the best possible and clear guidance to inform their choices and decisions. Yet Initiative after initiative has rained down from Government in recent years with regards to careers guidance, creating a confusing and costly mess when what we really need is a clear picture.

With the skills gap widening, it is essential that young people are well-informed about the experiences, qualifications and training they need to pursue their chosen careers and that the guidance they are given is grounded in accurate information about the jobs market.”

Sector Response: 

MarkDawe 100x100Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), commented on the report:  “A survey of apprentices has just shown that only 15% of them found out about apprenticeships from a teacher or careers advisor, so nothing much has changed for the better since the select committee last reported on this matter three years ago.

“We are pleased that the MPs support the government’s promised legislation which will mandate schools to work with training providers to raise awareness among pupils about apprenticeships and traineeships.  It is almost five years since schools were required by law to start offering impartial advice and perhaps the adoption of the Committee’s recommendation on non-compliers possibly losing an Ofsted grade is now needed.

“AELP agrees with the Committee that the government should start moving towards an all-age careers service that sits under a single department.  For it to have a full impact though, the unified service must be ready to work with education institutions and providers of all types as this will help maximise the number of available links to local employers as well as opening more doors to vocational learning opportunities.”  

martin doel aoc 100x100Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said:  “The first joint report from the Business, Innovation and Skills and Education Select Committees rightly recognises the on-going inadequacies of careers education and guidance in this country.

“As the Government looks to raise awareness of technical and professional education and training, including apprenticeships, it is vital that young people benefit from access to high-quality and impartial education and careers advice to ensure they are aware of all the routes to employment that are open to them.

“The focus for the Government must now be to create a coherent and effective service which is delivered in the local community, supported by local enterprise partnerships and bringing together educational providers, so that young people are being given information relevant to both the local and national jobs market.

“Good careers advice needs to become the norm if this country is going to succeed across all areas of its economy.”

sam Windett 100x100

Sam Windett, Head of Policy and Communications, Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) comments ERSA welcomes the recommendations in the Education Select Committee report into careers education, information, advice and guidance published today, many of which mirror ERSA’s own.  In particular we are pleased to see the call for careers advice in schools to be based on accurate local labour market information; that destination data should be extended so that we can see what works and change practices accordingly and to extend the role of employers in careers advice including engaging with them through LEPs and other local bodies.

“Getting the right advice and support at an early stage is key to ensuring that young people do not move out of education and into unemployment but instead can move quickly into the world of work, and experience the social and financial benefits this can bring.”


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