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Quality, Choice and Aspiration: Government announces radical careers education shake-up

Ed Balls with Sir Alex Ferguson
Canvas Grimsby In Article Block

The government announced a radical shake-up of careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) yesterday to modernise the support given to young people.

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls joined Schools Minister Iain Wright and Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United Football Club, to unveil the new IAG strategy.

As part of radical new changes, the initiative will offer access to careers education to every young person up to the age of 18.

“Good careers advice is not delivered in a single afternoon and should never be a one-off event. We want IAG to be delivered from the end of primary school right up to 18 so that we build on the aspirations and ambitions that younger children have. If we engage them early on they are more likely to make the right choices throughout their education,” said Mr Wright.

Mr Balls said: “A radical change is needed in the way careers advice and education is delivered. This strategy aims to do just that with schools and parents at the centre. Many people have anecdotal experiences of really bad careers advice and often say if they had their chance again they would have done something different. I want this generation of young people to be able to look back and say their careers advice and guidance was relevant and gave them informed options.

“Our strategy sets out a new approach for schools. It brings together young people, those working in business and older peers. They are best placed to provide an understanding of all the different types of jobs they could do and the qualifications they will need to fulfil their ambition.”

The government believes every young person should have access to a mentor, and the new IAG strategy will see two new national mentoring champions helping to deliver that goal.

Popular online sites, including Facebook and You Tube, will also play a large part in making IAG more accessible to young people. A ten million pound fund has been confirmed to support innovative ways of delivering careers education.

“This generation of young people look to the internet for knowledge in most areas. That is why we are investing more money in online advice and guidance so that we can deliver a truly 21st century careers education service,” added Mr Balls.

David Harbourne, director of research at Edge, welcomed the initiative as part of the independent education foundation’s calls to ensure “all young people have the options to explore the many paths to success”.

Mr Harbourne said: “I am delighted that the report stresses the importance of young people finding out about learning and careers options by seeing and hearing for themselves. Learning about courses and jobs directly from people who are already doing them is invaluable.

“We know young people want this – the message has come through loud and clear through Edge projects such as our youth-led Learner Forum. There are many paths to success and students need a wide range of experiences, including ones that are practical and vocational, to identify their individual talents.”

Exeter University Vice-Chancellor joins Sir Alex Ferguson and Ed Balls to launch new careers information strategy

University of Exeter Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Steve Smith joined Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls, Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United Football Club and Schools Minister Iain Wright at Old Trafford in Manchester, to launch a new careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) strategy.

The new strategy aims to modernise careers education, improve mentoring, and increase work experiences for young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It also sets out plans for primary schools to work with universities to give younger pupils an experience of higher education and the wider world of work.

Professor Steve Smith, who is President of Universities UK, said:

“I was the first in my family to go to university and I was grateful for the information and advice I received. Without this, I would not be where I am today.

“It’s vital that school children get appropriate advice and guidance about the range of options available to them – including diplomas, A levels, apprenticeships – as well as information about the higher education options available to them. The key is to increase the pool of 16 year olds continuing on in education.

“People may not be aware, but universities are now working closely with very young people – as early as primary school age to help them and their parents become aware of what higher education is about and what it has to offer.”

Professor Smith represented the university sector on the Prime Minister’s National Council for Educational Excellence (NCEE) established in 2007 to look into links between schools and higher education.

Last year’s NCEE’s Higher Education Mobilisation strand – Implementation Plan highlighted the current links already in place between universities, schools and colleges and acknowledged the importance of prospective students receiving targeted, high quality advice about higher education.

New research published by the government also shows that children at 11 have very high aspirations, with 75 per cent saying they want to go to university.

Professor Smith added: “The NCEE report recommended improvements in IAG on offer to young people. It’s good to see these recommendations now being taken forward, and the statutory guidance being published today will be important in supporting this goal.

“We know that many young people have high aspirations in terms of progressing to university and going on to careers. We must ensure, therefore, that these high aspirations are matched by high quality advice and guidance.”

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families’ (Ed Balls) Written Ministerial Statement:

Today I will be launching a new strategy to transform information, advice and guidance (IAG) for young people.

Quality, Choice and Aspiration sets out our plans to deliver 21st-century IAG that reflects what young people tell us they want and is more accessible and relevant, reflecting a rapidly changing economy. In line with our plans to raise the participation age to 18, our strategy will set out our ambition for every young person to receive careers education to 18. The reforms that we are setting out today will make sure that every young person, whatever their background, can aim for the top.

Raising the quality of IAG requires a new approach, one that brings together young people, those working in business and older peers, because they are often best placed to provide an understanding of all the different types of jobs that young people might aspire to and the qualifications that they will need to fulfil their ambitions.

Children begin to think about their future careers at an early age, so our strategy will support schools and parents working together to nurture the aspirations of children and develop their strengths, whether they are practical, academic or both.

This generation of young people look to the internet for knowledge in most areas. This strategy signals a ​step change in online advice and guidance, so young people are able to access IAG on Facebook, YouTube, blogs and other social networking sites.

Reflecting our approach to 21st century IAG, the strategy will include a number of new proposals:

piloting approaches to teaching about careers in primary school and plans for primary schools to work with universities to give younger pupils an experience of higher education and the wider world of work;

provide support and resource for schools and parents to engage with young people from an early age to talk about career opportunities;

the ambition that every young person have access to a mentor—two new national mentoring champions will help to increase mentoring opportunities between schools, businesses and higher education;

more help for disadvantaged and disabled young people in accessing work experience so that all young people—regardless of their background, ethnicity or gender—can realise their full potential; and a £10 million fund to support innovative ways of delivering careers education.

This strategy has been informed and influenced by the important report Fair Access to the Professions by Alan Milburn and his panel, which was published this summer. The plans outlined today build on Milburn’s report and take forward the majority of the recommendations relevant to IAG.

Now more than ever young people need access to good IAG. This strategy sets out our vision. It puts in place the building blocks for an IAG system that gives every young person the high-quality support that they need to release their talents, thus setting them on the path to success.

I am placing a copy of the strategy in the Libraries of both Houses.

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families

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