From education to employment

IAG Q&A for FE staff

At some point in their careers most tutors have been asked by students for guidance about different education pathways and careers options. Now, the Government’s Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) strategy places colleges and schools at the heart of this process. So what is the IAG strategy all about, and what do college staff need to know? 

What is the Information Advice and Guidance strategy?

In October 2009 the Government launched a new strategy to make careers education and Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) more relevant to the 21st century. The Information Advice and Guidance strategy aims to make IAG more accessible for young people and ensure each one of them, whatever their background, can make the right education and training choices so they have the best possible chance of succeeding.

Why has the strategy been introduced?

For a number of reasons. Firstly, with the participation age increasing to 18 in 2015, it’s more important than ever that all young people know about the different learning routes and qualifications available to them – including Diplomas, Apprenticeships and Foundation Learning as well as GCSEs and A Levels.

For some young people who have grown up in families and households where there is no knowledge of the education, training and employment options available, this support will be invaluable. For other young people, having the opportunity to talk through the different options means making the right choices is less daunting.

The strategy will also help to ensure parents are better informed about the different options available, so they can help their children to make the right decisions.

Another reason for the new strategy is the changing jobs market. In spite of the current economic difficulties, the global economy is expected to double in size by 2030, creating up to a billion new jobs in high-skilled industries. Young people therefore need a good, well-rounded education, with relevant and rigorous qualifications and broader employability skills to prosper in this changing market.
The right IAG can help to excite young people about their future lives and raise their aspirations about what they can achieve. It helps young people to progress to higher education and opens their eyes to professions and careers that they otherwise might never have thought of.

What are young people entitled to under the new IAG strategy?

  • Excellent, personalised and impartial careers information, advice and guidance in colleges and schools
  • Support for parents so they can help their children to make the right decisions
  • Online IAG resources, accessible 24/7 by young people and their parents, with links into one-to-one advice
  • Lots of opportunities for young people to get a feel for different courses and careers, through taster sessions and high quality experiences – both of HE and of workplaces
  • Access to specialist local help for vulnerable young people and those with additional needs

There are many examples of existing good practice such as the college case study featured in the IAG Strategy, which is available online.

What will be expected of college tutors?

College tutors may be asked to provide information and impartial advice on learning and progression routes for their own specialist subject, including into higher education and the workplace.
Many young people are looking as much for inspiration as information. Subject tutors are expected to consider how they can build information about learning routes and work choices into their subject teaching. Young people are more likely to be motivated to learn and achieve if they understand why their learning is relevant to their futures.

Subject tutors also need to be prepared to direct young people as appropriate to other advisers and sources of IAG information that supplement their own knowledge and understanding.
It’s important that IAG focuses on unlocking a young person’s potential and draws on a range of information channels, including informal advice from peers and social networking sites, which also help to shape decisions.

How can colleges and businesses work together on IAG provision?

Many colleges will already be aware of the positive impact that work-related learning can have on students. Getting a taste for the world of work can help to raise young people’s ambitions and aspirations, motivating them to participate and to achieve by making learning seem much more relevant and engaging.

Colleges need to be aware, and raise awareness, of the different ways that employers can get involved with local colleges – including mentoring, local competitions and challenges, work tasters and careers talks as well as the more traditional work experience placements.

The new Education and Employers Taskforce, which is led by senior figures from business and the public sector and supported by DCSF, has been set up to ensure that every college and school has an effective partnership with employers to provide its young people with the inspiration, motivation, knowledge, skills and opportunities they need to help them achieve their potential.
The Taskforce has already begun its work and has produced guides for teachers and employers which showcase the excellent work that is taking place. Click here for more details. 

How do local authorities and Connexions services fit into the new strategy?

It is local authorities that will work with 14-19 partnerships to agree strategies with colleges and schools to deliver IAG.

Local authorities are responsible for commissioning IAG services, so that they can integrate IAG with the wider youth support service. These external IAG services include Connexions services, voluntary and community service organisations and other private organisations working under contract to the local authority.

Professional advisers providing careers education and IAG will receive ongoing training, so that they can provide the best, most up to date information to meet the individual needs of each young person.

What about the national Connexions Direct website?

The Connexions Direct national website and helpline service provides young people with information, advice and support on a range of issues, including careers and learning.

The website receives around 150,000 visits per week, whilst contacts to the helpline service average around 6,500 per week. Young people can contact the helpline 18 hours a day, 365 days a year, via telephone, email, webchat and text message. Feedback from young people is positive, and local providers of information, advice and guidance welcome the additional backdrop of support. Young people’s views are taken into account in developing the service to ensure their needs continue to be met.

Connexions Direct gives help on a range of issues including health, housing, free-time, money, relationships, legal rights and personal development as well as careers, work, and learning advice.

What support will be offered to tutors to help them provide IAG?

Support is available for college leaders through the National College and the FE workforce through LSIS.

And there is lots of information and guidance for tutors online, including the following resources:

Quality, Choice and Aspiration – A strategy for young people’s information, advice and guidance

Statutory Guidance – For schools on Impartial Careers Education

Resources Pack – For Impartial Careers Education Statutory Guidance

TDA guide – On careers-related IAG

TDA resources –  For career-related subjects

Impartial careers education: Principles into practice (National College, 2009)

Impartial careers education: Effective leadership of information, advice and guidance (National College, 2009)

To recap on the different 14-19 options available to young people, visit

Article supplied by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)

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