Improving career guidance services in England
Now, more than ever before, young people need high quality career services to help them make good choices about their future, says Cathy Bereznicki, chief executive of the Guidance Council
The Guidance Council has brought together key education and career sector organisations to demand a national debate on the future of career guidance services for young people.
Employers, trade unions, colleges, universities and professional bodies are all expressing concern about levels of career advice and guidance that young people currently receive in England. They see "a worrying gap" between policy statements about these services and the reality.
As a result of these concerns, we have set out an agenda for change in a statement paper - Getting Young People on the Right Road: the case for improving career guidance services - published on behalf of a range of concerned bodies.
It is endorsed by the Secondary Heads Association, City & Guilds - the UK's biggest provider of vocational qualifications - the Institute of Career Guidance, Careers England, the National Association of Careers and Guidance Teachers, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and the RSA - the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
We welcome the Department for Education and Skills' recent announcement of an end-to-end review of careers education and guidance. This review follows growing concern that the Connexions advice and guidance service for 13-19 year-olds is not providing the universal service it was intended to offer - despite a Government commitment to develop careers services for all.
School heads and college principals find that increasing demands to meet objectives for supporting disengaged and disaffected young people have put the universal service at serious risk.
Yet these are services central to Government policies of improving educational attainment, increasing participation in higher education, raising skills in the workforce and supporting social inclusion.
We need to debate these issues, with young people and their parents, with schools and colleges and other training providers, with guidance organisations and with the Government, which pays for the lion's share of this work. And that must lead to action to secure the services we owe to our young people to help them play their part in the economy and in communities.
The Guidance Council has received great support from the Secondary Heads Association. "Secondary heads," says general secretary John Dunford, "attach great importance to the provision of a high quality, reliable, independent universal careers advice service, offering guidance to all young people on their future education and careers.
"We are concerned that the pressure on the Connexions Service to concentrate on the needs of disaffected young people is not leaving adequate time and resources for the universal careers service needed to support the work of schools and colleges."
Six key points for getting young people on the right road:
- Career guidance policy and practice must retain their crucial links to the labour market. The issue for young people is informed choice, based on up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the world of work.
- The quality and volume of career-related services for all young people within Connexions must be maintained.
- There must be consistent policy and delivery on careers work, not mixed messages. It is no good saying that careers guidance is central if the practice does not match up.
- Connexions should be about giving young people access to objective guidance, centred on their individual needs.
- The capacity for schools and colleges to provide 14-19 year-olds with curriculum activities to develop their career management skills must be enhanced.
- The skills base of careers professionals is crucial to effective support for young people, and must be maintained