School pupils and college students will miss out on a government programme designed to prepare children for life after school or higher education, councils warn today.

As the Government rolls out the second wave of Career Hubs over the next 12 months, which aim to provide local, targeted careers and advice and guidance to young people, the Local Government Association is concerned that the Hubs will support only 1,300 schools and colleges and only reach a fraction of young people.

A Careers Hub is a group of secondary schools and colleges in the same area which work with local partners in the business, public, education and voluntary sectors to ensure that careers outcomes are improved for all young people.

This risks large swathes of young people missing out on vital guidance which undermines their ability to make the right choices between academic and vocational routes and will ultimately exacerbate skills gaps in local areas.

The LGA is calling on the Government to end the patchwork of careers activity in England by handing funding and control of national employment and skills schemes, including careers advice, to local areas. There are currently a number of organisations and providers who are involved in careers provision in a community, including the Careers and Enterprise Company, National Careers Service, Jobcentre Plus, councils, schools and colleges.

The LGA said localised support would enable councils and combined authorities to develop an all-age careers service would help reduce the number of young people not into education, employment and training – which has reached nearly 800,000 across the country.

It would also free councils to build on the success of discretionary local schemes they have set up, using their limited powers and funding, to support young people with their careers.

This includes:

  • A careers information brand called “What’s Your Thing’ has been developed by Essex County Council and the Essex Employment and Skills Board to inform residents on the wealth of careers on offer in the key growth sectors, including STEM. The careers booklet has been delivered to over 40,000 residents and several hundred schools and colleges over the past 2 years.
  • Norfolk County Council delivers with a range of programmes to support young people, including NEETs and disadvantaged groups. Their dedicated careers website HelpYouChoose offers support to school pupils from year 8 onwards on careers, education, training and employment, including apprenticeships.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said:

“Councils want to ensure every young person realises their full potential. 

“Two years ago the Government’s Careers Strategy pledged to provide an improved service that supports people of all ages. Instead, careers provision in England is becoming ever more fragmented and complex.

“Too many young people are not receiving the high-quality, impartial and personalised careers advice they deserve and this is a disservice to them. This leaves too many youngsters making unsuitable career decisions, which have a potentially devastating impact on their future.

“Councils are best-placed to tackle this. Devolving careers advice, post-16 and skills budgets and powers to local areas, would allow councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to improve provision and match young people with employment routes that actually exist within their local communities.”

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The LGA’s Work Local proposals set out an ambitious but practical vision for devolved and integrated employment and skills provision. The LGA has also put together a series of Skills Taskforce roundtables designed to bring together industry experts and sector representatives with an interest in making our skills and employment system as effective as possible. 

Working with the Cities and Local Growth Unit, the LGA has commissioned a comprehensive support offer to councils looking to play an active role supporting Local Enterprise Partnerships and Combined Authorities in the development of a Local Industrial Strategy.

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