National Careers Service: Strategic Options for Building a World Class Service
The National Careers Service (NCS) was launched in April 2012, tasked with supporting and enabling the career choices of citizens in England. The NCS replaced Next Step, the former careers service for adults. The new Service has three channels (face-to-face, phone and web). Early announcements indicated that it was to be an all-age service. But at present for young people it has only a limited helpline and web service, with no local face-to-face provision (NCS providers can provide such services to young people, but not as the NCS).
The Careers Alliance and its member organisations welcome and support the NCS. We wish to play our part in helping the Service to develop and become more successful in assisting people in their lifelong learning and work pathways. This paper has been prepared in this spirit. We suggest that this paper be addressed by the National Careers Council and that the Skills Funding Agency and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills be invited to make a formal response to the issues outlined here. In particular, we recommend that the NCC should examine in-depth the feasibility and desirability of the strategic longer-term issues set out in Section 6 of this paper, leading to a public statement from the Government about the future vision and strategy for the NCS.
Thus the NCS has the potential to be not only a private good for its clients but also a public good, with its benefits being felt beyond its immediate client group. Looking ahead to the next stages of its development, the role of, and challenge for, the Service must be to balance the needs and interests (short- and longer term) of the individual with wider social and economic priorities. While there are inevitably requirements, in tight times for the public purse, to prioritise NCS services, it remains important that a universal Service exists to support the careers not only of those who are unemployed but also of those whose lives are changing (or could fruitfully change) in other ways.