The long awaited Careers Strategy was finally launched yesterday by Skills and Apprenticeship Minister, Anne Milton. Here is what we like about it and what we want to see more of going forward:
What we like
- Set standards for all schools and colleges to meet
The introduction of the Gatsby Benchmarks across all schools and colleges is a positive step in ensuring that all young people have access to high quality careers provision. The benchmarks mean that schools and colleges will have to work with employers to be able to develop and improve their careers provision. We are particularly pleased that one of the Gatsby Benchmarks is linking curriculum learning to careers. Therefore, from January 2018 STEM teachers will have to highlight the relevance of STEM subjects to a wide range of careers.
- Career leaders
The strategy also pledged £4 million to introduce career leaders for 500 schools and colleges. The role of a career leader will be to lead the careers programme in a school and ensure that the school and college meets the eight requirements of the Gatsby Benchmarks. The government has pledged £4 million towards the training of these leaders, which will include knowledge of T Levels and Apprenticeships.
- Finally, a real choice for young people
Manufacturers have long called for vocational and technical education to be put on equal footing. More than two-thirds of companies currently offer apprenticeships, and a further 14% are considering doing so - only 5% have never offered them. Apprenticeships are therefore integral for manufacturers to be able to access the skills they need. Far too many young people are not aware of the array of options available to them in vocational and technical education, therefore the strategy’s commitment to make sure that every young person has two clear choices at 16, academic or technical route, will be well received by manufacturers.
What we want to see more of
- STEM specialist career leaders
Careers leaders in 500 schools and colleges is a good first step, but in areas where there are clear shortage of skilled workers such as manufacturing, young people need access to high quality, up to date careers provision. We know that not enough young people are studying STEM subjects at school, yet they are vital to anyone wanting to pursue a STEM career. Therefore, we want to see the government go further in its careers strategy and have specialist STEM career leaders.
- Direct engagement with employers, not just through the Careers & Enterprise Company
Whilst further engagement with schools through the Careers & Enterprise Company is a step forward, manufacturers across the country are already successfully engaging with schools directly - with 72% already offer work experience to young people. Not only do we want to see greater direct involvement in schools from manufacturers, but for government to outline exactly how they intend on employers a greater role in schools.
- Mandatory student destination data
The careers strategy outlines plans to make student destination “widely available”. Again this is positive because it is important that young people are aware of all the opportunities available to them. However, we want to see it being made mandatory for schools to have to share student destination data. This aligns with the government’s Industrial Strategy that announced plans to include vocational education outcomes in school performance measures.
Having a Careers Strategy is one thing, implementing and delivering it is another. Much of the success of this strategy will hinge on a well-funded, high quality education system - both academic and vocational. The strategy is certainly a good first step so we look forward to working with government in its implementation.