Finally some good advice on careers provision

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Yesterday, the Education Select Committee published its report, Careers Advice for Young People. When the inquiry opened, we blogged on this important topic and gave an overview of EEF's own submission to the inquiry.

The somewhat damning report highlights our own concerns that the direction of travel for careers provision is all wrong, and we agree with the Committee Chair Graham Stuart MP who said that “the quality and quantity of guidance for young people is deteriorating just when it is most needed”.

The report not only hammers home what is wrong with the way careers guidance is currently delivered, it provides recommendations that will benefit all parties involved and we are now urging government to take them forward. Here are a selection of the Committee's recommendations and how they match up against our own.

1. Access to face-to-face guidance is an integral part of good quality careers guidance. All young people should have access to such provision from a qualified, independent provider, should they choose to take up the opportunity.

EEF: In our Skills for Growth report we said that fundamental to the success of careers advice is face-to-face provision and young people need access to tailored advice from an advisor. Such advice is only available for those aged 19 and over via the National Careers Service so we recommended that effective methods from this Service are replicated in schools.

2. Websites are a valuable source of information about careers for young people. They cannot, however replace face-to-face guidance, nor are they sufficient in themselves to fulfil the requirement on schools to provide independent, impartial advice.

EEF: Our Skills for Growth report acknowledged that developments in ICT means that is sometimes appropriate to give young people to opportunity to research information, including that on careers, themselves. However, given the complex choices they face, this is not suffice and a clear differentiation should be make between the provision of information, often via the interest and guidance from an advisor. Web-based resources should be a complement to face-to-face provision and not a substitute.

3. We welcome the government's support for the increase involvement of local employers in careers guidance in schools, which is vital for effective careers provision. We recommend that schools be requirde to set out in their careers plans their arrangements with local employers and how they intend to enhance them.

EEF: In our submission we stated that the guidance was weak in terms of how schools should engage with employers. Our recommendation was then for the guidance to be more assertive as to how this engagement should be delivered and head teachers should ensure that teachers are given clear objectives on this. There is a growing appetite amongst employers to engage with schools and government must be more proactive in brokering this relationship.

4. We agree with witnesses from business that it would be beneficial for teachers to have a greater understanding of the world of work, particularly that of the local labour market, and we recommend that teachers should undertake regular professional development to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the work place.

EEF: In our Skills for Growth report we recommend the introduction of a continuous professional development requirement for teachers to undertake 2 to 5 working days a year within a business, to gain first-hand experience of the local workplace and increase their awareness of local employment opportunities. It will also enable employers to communicate to teachers what is expected from pupils upon leaving school or college, and demonstrate the practical application of the subjects they are teaching.

5. We concur with our colleagues on the BIS Committee that awareness of apprenticeships is limited within schools. We recommend that NAS' remit be extended to include the promotion of apprenticeships in schools.

EEF: Without impartial, informed careers advice, the commitment to support apprenticeships will be lost by the lack of demand by young people taking this route. The lack of awareness of apprenticeships amongst young people is apparent in a report by Careers Academies UK entitled Routes to Success. Whilst extending NAS's remit to include promotion of apprenticeships in schools is a useful step, it is not enough. In our submission we recommended that government explores ways to incentivise schools to offer alternative pathways such as Higher Apprenticeships, so vocational education can be put on the same esteem as academic learning.

6. The government's decision to remove the statutory duty on schools to provide careers education and work-related learning has been heavily criticised by witnesses. We are persuaded of the benefits of both these former provisions and we recommend that the government's statutory guidance to schools is strengthened to require schools to provide careers education and work-related learning as part of their duty.

EEF: We have raised our concerns about the decision to give responsibility for the delivery of careers advice, with little direction. We have also called for compulsory work experience at Key Stage 4 to be reinstated, and to add an additional compulsory work experience element at Key Stage 5 also. Work-related learning is extremely beneficial to young people, giving them a taste of a career and building employability skills which employers increasingly demand.

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Head of Education & Skills Policy

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