During his speech to the Institute of Careers Guidance annual conference in Belfast, John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, announced a single unified All-Age Careers Service likely to be introduced in schools, colleges and universities in order to improve the standards of career guidance.
Mr Hayes said: “With 40 percent young people progressing to higher education these days, the right guidance at the right time would not only help young people and adults to progress in learning, but also increase their confidence and motivation to succeed.”
“Careers guidance is at the heart of increasing social mobility, and a vital part of the machinery of social justice.”
“I have long argued for the creation of an All-Age Careers Service – a unified, consistent service that would help people make right educational and training choices and offer effective support to young people as they make the transition to adulthood.”
He affirmed that this service “would provide transparency and accessibility, and with its own unique identity it would have more credibility for people within it as well as the users”.
The agenda will be founded on the core principles of independence and professionalism providing impartial advice, which is independent of any organisation with a vested interest, underpinned by objective and realistic information about careers, skills and the labour market.
The All-Age Careers Service would also aim to “eradicate unfairness and disadvantage from the society, to create an environment in which the only limit on any person’s ability to go far is the extent of their own efforts”.
He continued: “The inability to match the right learning opportunities with the right employment choices to achieve ones aspirations is the biggest barrier faced by many people today”.
He also called for a “revaluation” of the way that skills are seen and the value they add to life experiences and the character of a civil society, and to the economy in order to stimulate and maintain growth.
With the advent of a new single All-Age Career Service, Mr Hayes hopes there will be a radical and challenging difference to the way career guidance is perceived today, unlocking access to learning and progression for those facing disadvantage thus helping them become socially mobile.
In response to recommendations of the Careers Progression Task Force, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education will be working closely with advice professionals, schools and colleges on how best to revitalise the professional status of careers guidance.
The plan would also introduce a new kite mark to recognise the best career guidance services and establish a register of providers who meet the highest standards.
Making sure that the career guidance is delivered by certified professionals who are well-informed, benefit from continued training and professional development and whose status in schools is respected and valued.
Building on the best of Next Step for Adults and Connexions, the new All-Age Careers Service will provide a fully joined up service for all age groups.
It will be accessible to both young people and adults from September 2011 and the service aims to be up and fully running by April 2012.
(Pictured: FE Minister John Hayes)