John Yarham, Vice Chair of Careers England and CEO of Futures Advice, Skills and Employment

My previous article, entitled ‘What did your careers adviser tell you?’ was written in anticipation of the careers strategy being published. Now that it has been launched and we know that all of young people’s careers work will come under the auspices of the Careers and Enterprise Company; aligned to the Gatsby benchmarks; and careers advice for adults will be delivered by the National Careers Service, where next for careers?

It’s important to acknowledge the different schools of thought regarding the strategy. One criticism is that it is more a series of actions than a strategy. Another is the lack of any significant additional funding to support the work. A further concern relates to the continued reliance on schools to prioritise careers in an already pressured budget and policy context. I recognise all of these thoughts but as a natural optimist, I also think that there are at least two reasons to look forward with more encouragement.

Recognition. The first reason is that the importance of careers is recognised in a government strategy. One that was so important, it took three separate ministers to get it published! The basis of the dismantling of services at the start of the decade was fundamentally borne from a belief that careers guidance wasn’t important. This strategy appears to signal the opposite and points towards progress.    

Continuity. The second reason for optimism is that despite all of the rumours during the latest Cabinet reshuffle, we still have the Minister who oversaw the publication of the strategy – Anne Milton – in her post. The rapid turnover in the skills’ ministerial portfolio has exemplified the rapidly changing nature of policy in the sector and provided one of its main challenges. To continue to have Anne Milton in post is therefore a relief and provides the foundation of being able to move into implementation without further disruption.

Thirty years after the introduction of ‘Baker days’ (INSET training days for teachers for those not of that generation), the launch of the so-called ‘Baker Clause’ to ensure that schools have to promote technical education and apprenticeships offered by other providers, is a welcome policy development. How this is implemented and policed is currently unclear. When will we see our first test-case of a provider challenging a school for their failure to comply with the duty I wonder? Who is responsible for making a judgement in such a situation? Central government? Local authorities? The Regional Schools’ Commissioner? Such questions remain about how this will work but the recognition that schools are not always able to offer impartial advice because of the pressure of filling their own sixth forms, as a Government policy level, is welcome. I remember a minister acknowledging the issue a few years ago but swiftly declaring that there were ‘bigger problems’ to worry about. That may be true at a macro level but for the many individuals that make bad decisions without a full suite of information, it’s a difficult message to convey. The Baker Clause is a further piece of progress. 

The nature of funding for careers remains an issue, despite the addition of new funding arrangements for the Careers and Enterprise Company. I have seen some school leaders recently writing about their genuine desire to do more in providing their students high quality careers support but are hampered in being able to do so by the lack of funding that they have at their disposal. This will not be helped by the careers inspiration activity delivered by the National Careers Service finishing in the autumn. Whilst the direction of travel for the Careers and Enterprise Company to coordinate young people’s activity is clear, the detail behind how such activity will be funded in the future is not clear. This is not just confined to schools. The news that the current careers advice provided to prisoners across the country will finish in March, with no clear succession arrangements outlined, also highlights the need for clarity over funding, to avoid any accusations that the positive rhetoric over careers is not supported by the reality of resources made available.

An important aspect of such points are the types of organisations that we want to deliver such services. As the CEO of a social enterprise – effectively a not for profit company – I have a rather biased view of the types of organisation that I see as best placed to deliver the combination of care and professionalism required. The recent news regarding Carillion, coming relatively soon after the more sector focused issues over Learndirect, has cast a shadow over outsourcing arrangements for the public sector more generally. I believe that there are lessons for all parties from these very sad situations but as with most things in life, a balance needs to be struck in arriving at a better solution for the future. Organisations delivering public services need to have a scale to enable them to invest in quality, systems and processes. This applies to careers guidance just as it does construction. I also believe however, that not being overly extended helps to mitigate some of the risks that have been highlighted by the Carillion situation. I recently had the unenviable job of communicating the news regarding the cessation of the in-custody careers contract mentioned earlier to the forty staff in Futures affected by this decision. As difficult as this was, it felt better doing it in person and being able to convey the message from the top of the organisation directly to all of the colleagues that are now facing redundancy at the end of March than it would have in a large corporate structure where the approach may have been more perfunctory. Part of the reason that we were judged as Outstanding by Ofsted is a sense of genuine care. I am able to address each one of Futures’ three hundred colleagues to convey such an important message. Being able to balance the scale required to deliver value for money with a requirement for familiarity and care that underpins most public sector work is a challenge for both commissioners and delivery organisations. I passionately believe that social enterprises can grow and develop in this space.

It will therefore be an interesting time over the next year as the new arrangements for the careers strategy start to emerge. I feel optimistic about the intentions that it is founded upon whilst remaining realistic about the challenges set out. The sector and government working together can make the difference. The Department for Education, the Careers and Enterprise Company, the National Careers Service, key providers and sector based bodies need to collaborate to ensure that people of all ages and aspirations receive the support that they need in developing their careers. The work is too important and resources too thin to allow any cracks to emerge between any of these key players.

John Yarham, Vice Chair of Careers England and CEO of Futures Advice, Skills and Employment

About Futures: Futures is a not for profit social enterprise specialising in careers advice. Futures was rated as Outstanding by Ofsted for its delivery of the National Careers Service in January 2017.

About Careers England: The trade association for employer organisations and traders involved in the provision of products and services promoting careers education.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page