Nic Dakin MP

Standing up for Local People

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Careers Advice (Access to Schools) Bill

Too often, many young people leave school unaware of all the choices there are when selecting the right route for their chosen career.  Apprenticeships, technical education and training, A Levels, university…the options available can be confusing and daunting for a 16-year-old ready to take the next steps towards their future job.

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The underlying problem is that there is inadequate careers advice and guidance available. Previous research from the Association of Colleges has shown that young people primarily get their careers advice from their parents and teachers who, with the greatest respect, often do not know about the full range of opportunities available to young people today. 

Last year, there was some movement from the previous Government on this issue, with the announcement of new legislation to ensure that schools would allow other providers of education and training to talk to their pupils about the range of opportunities open to them.  Since then, however, the plans seem to have been shelved.

Today I will be announcing a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament called the Careers Advice (Access to Schools) Bill which seeks to ensure students at school are provided with high quality, impartial careers advice on all post-16 options available to them. It will require schools in England to provide access to their premises and pupils to representatives from post-16 education establishments and others providing guidance on careers, training and courses.

Careers advice is an ongoing problem that has been identified by a range of organisations over the years as an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.  Last year, for example, the Commons Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy published its report Careers education, information, advice and guidance.  The report recommended that Government policy should incentivise schools to bring their careers provision up to a high standard and to hold them to account when they fail to do so, with a schools Ofsted rating downgraded if careers provision is not effective. Without incentives such as legislation or the threat of an Ofsted grade reduction, schools, particularly those with sixth forms, will continue to not provide the impartial and informed guidance needed for young people. Employment bodies such as the CBI stated in their 2015 Education and Skills survey that ‘careers guidance in schools is not good enough’, with more than three-quarters (77%) of businesses in the UK  saying that careers advice was not good enough to ensure young people made their most informed decisions about their future career options.

The  recent Industrial Strategy Green Paper identifies some of the challenges around careers advice.  If the Government wish to see the aims of their Industrial Strategy fulfilled, it is essential that careers guidance is at the centre of their approach.

The importance of reforming the current offer of careers advice is absolutely critical. For the Government to realise its ambition on apprenticeships and technical education, young people need to be made aware of all their options (whether academic, vocational or technical) post-16. To do otherwise, we are risking our next generation of workers.

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commented 2017-02-27 14:58:14 +0000
As the lead officer for UNISON the lead trade union representing careers advisers we welcome this initiative and the fully agree with the content. Quality CEIAG is a tool for social mobility there is empirical evidence that recognises the link between good quality CEIAG, lowered NEET numbers and higher wages. However due to cuts to funding available to schools, the consequences of the new schools funding formula and the severe cuts to local authority budget UNISON is finding that many local authority and private careers companies are having to cover the shortfall in providing ad hoc social services support. There are too many overlapping short term headline grabbing policies which mask the crisis facing young people and the disadvantaged and disengaged. A coherent, consistent and robust careers service should support those who are most disadvantaged and use careers to improve social justice. A model to follow is that currently in place in Scotland. UNISON is conducting research with the University of Derby which seeks to find out what type of provision is in schools following the devolvement of the duty to provide careers advice to schools without the extra funding. We believe schools are being put in an unfair position – careers advice should be impartial, independent and consistent but too often young people face a post code lottery in the type, access and quality of careers advice available. We agree totally with the comments below made by Janet Colledge an indefatigable careers campaign we have great respect for.
commented 2017-02-24 20:48:03 +0000
As an expert in careers education, I am happy to support anything that brings the need for good quality careers education to young people. However, just ensuring that pupils have access to a wide range of sources of advice is not enough. Most young people are confused by the variety of advice they receive. most of which is NOT impartial and they need support in making a decision which is right for THEM. So whilst I’d support your bill, I believe it doesn’t go far enough. pupils should have access to information from a wide variety of options AND the support of qualified careers professionals in order to help them make their choices.

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