Local support for committee report's recommendations on career advice
ADVISERS from Careers South West have welcomed a report from the Education Select Committee which has warned that careers guidance services for young people has deteriorated and will continue to do so unless urgent steps are taken by the government.
Launching a report that examines the impact of the new duty on schools to provide independent and impartial careers guidance for young people, Education Committee chairman, Graham Stuart MP, said: "Young people are faced with ever more complicated choices. They must choose the type of school they go to, what subjects or qualifications they should enter, college and university courses (with differential pricing) and then between a myriad of career options.
"That's why good careers guidance has never been so important.
"The Education Committee has found that the quality and quantity of guidance for young people is deteriorating just when it is most needed. If young people are to benefit from the increased choices created by this government we need a careers advice and guidance system which supports them to make the right ones.
"We want face-to-face guidance to be available to all young people as an integral part of a good quality careers service. They deserve and should receive far better support than current arrangements generally allow."
The report, called Careers Guidance for Young People: The impact of the new duty on schools, said 'urgent steps' were needed to improve matters.
Careers South West's chief executive, Jenny Rudge, said: "Unfortunately, schools have been left to struggle with these new arrangements with inadequate guidance from government.
"Although around 80 per cent of South West schools have bought services from Careers South West, the guidance a young person receives will depend largely on what his or her school chooses to make available and buy in.
"Prior to September 2012, parents could be confident that careers advice was provided by qualified careers advisers who could provide independent and impartial advice in the best interests of students.
"Since September 2012, many schools have continued to take their responsibilities seriously and continue to buy in an independent and impartial service.
"However, there are others which have chosen not to engage independent provision or limited it to a small number of pupils.
"This damages young people's career prospects, limits employers' access to young people with the right skills and interest and ultimately damages the economy."
She added that Careers South West welcomed the committee's recommendations, in particular:
that a minimum of one personal careers interview with an independent adviser should be available for every young person
that schools are required to work to a quality standard and use guidance services from qualified providers and individuals
that all schools are required to publish an annual Careers Plan and that the National Careers Service's role should be extended to include capacity building and brokerage role for schools.
"We would fully agree with the committee's statement that 'independent careers advice and guidance has never been as important for young people as it is today. Young people deserve better than the service they are likely to receive under the current arrangements. Schools cannot simply be left to get on with it'," she said.
Careers South West advises parents to take the opportunity to ask questions of schools about their provision for Careers Guidance. There are a number of checks parents can make. They should inquire whether the school is offering:
a service which is independent, impartial and in the best interest of pupils. The service should be delivered by somebody who is not employed at the school and provide advice about the full range of opportunities open to young people without being pressured by the school or college to give priority to their own sixth form or other provision.
a service which is of high quality — delivered by a qualified careers adviser with access to professional networks through which they are regularly updated on labour market intelligence and changes to the range of opportunities on offer in further and higher education. A track record of high quality delivery and this would be recognised by an appropriate quality award such as the Matrix Standard.
a service that provides sufficient access to meet the needs of all students. There should be access for all young people, through the curriculum, to a programme of careers education where they learn about the range of opportunities available, how they are structured and how to apply. To complement this widening of awareness of opportunities there should be help for young people to make decisions and create a plan for their own progress through the opportunity structure upon leaving school. This would normally take place through group activities and individual interviews with a qualified careers adviser. Many schools demonstrate the quality of the Careers Education and Guidance programmes they offer by gaining the Investors in Careers Award for high quality delivery. A school that holds this award would normally meet these expectations .
Careers South West can offer a number of services over and above that which would be provided by schools, such as psychometric assessments which enable young people to understand their strengths and areas of interest in a more detailed way. This involves undertaking an on-line assessment and participating in an interview with a careers adviser to explain the outcomes of the assessment.