Submission to Education Select Committee Enquiry on Career Guidance
This Briefing Note from the CSSA responds to the concerns outlined by the Education Select Committee, but also outlines some of the strategic challenges facing the careers sector, given that there are one million young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), and growing numbers of graduates are finding it more difficult to get work. Despite the efforts to reduce youth unemployment, concerns remain for the next generation of young people that will face extremely tough choices, not just at school in terms of their subject choices and further study choices, but also their career choices at a time when opportunities for work are limited and the medium-term projections for the economy are for stagnant growth and low levels of job creation.
There is much to support: the Government has issued a ‘practical guide for schools’2 alongside its statutory guidance to schools3; it has established the National Careers Service4 (albeit its face-to-face services are for adults only); it has created a National Careers Council5 to provide oversight for the NCS and to provide advice to government on careers services more generally; it has promoted the Matrix Standard; it has supported the Careers Profession Alliance in establishing a single professional body for careers advisers, to be called the Career Development Institute; and it has supported Careers England in developing the Quality in Careers Standard. But concerns remain about how career guidance provision for young people in schools and colleges will be funded, how quality in provision will be assured, and how schools will be supported to meet their statutory responsibilities.
We risk a postcode lottery
Preparations by schools for the new statutory duty need to be viewed in a broader context. There are concerns from head teacher bodies9 that careers education programmes within schools are being weakened. The current statutory duty to provide careers education within the curriculum has been removed; funding for programmes like Aimhigher and Education Business Partnerships has been discontinued; and work experience and work-related learning pre-16 seem likely to become much less common now that the requirement for schools to offer these opportunities has been withdrawn. There is a very significant risk of inconsistent careers provision across England, with school students suffering from a ‘post-code lottery’ in relation to what they are likely to receive, depending on the resources and priorities of their particular school.