The Government has promised that every school and college in the country will have a dedicated careers leader in place by the start of the new school year.
It has pledged £4 million in funding to deliver a strategy aimed at providing tailored support to students, provide opportunities for work experience and offer access to appropriate sources of information about potential careers.
The Government has also ring-fenced £5 million to set up 20 careers hubs across the country in areas judged to be most in need. These will link schools and colleges with local universities and employers.
The Department for Education developed the partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Careers and Enterprise Company and it was launched today at the Careers Development Institute by skills minister Anne Milton.
The Government hinted that a renewed careers strategy might be in the offing in its recently published Industrial Strategy.
Milton said: “Without access to the best possible careers support, some people will miss out on the opportunities available.
“They will continue to be held back if they don’t have the right advice at the right time to make informed decisions about their future, or may not have access to the broader experiences and role models to help them develop as people.
“It matters to me that we give people from all backgrounds the best possible preparation to move into a job or training that enables them – whatever their background or wherever they live – to have a fulfilling life.”
The Government’s record on social mobility has been called into question, with all four members of the board of its Social Mobility Commission standing down this weekend.
As part of the new strategy, secondary schools will be expected to provide pupils with “at least one meaningful interaction with businesses every year”, with a particular focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) employers.
The Government also plans to look at ways of engaging primary school children in their career prospects, dedicating £2 million to trial careers activities in disadvantaged areas of the country.
For long-term unemployed adults, the National Careers Service will offer access to specialist support.
Sir John Holman, senior adviser to the Gatsby Foundation, said good career guidance is the key to social mobility.
“For young people coming from a background of low socio-economic aspirations, school career guidance is their best hope of charting the way to a rewarding future career.”
The foundation conducted a pilot in north-east England to test its eight benchmarks of what it considers to be good careers guidance, and these will now form a central part of the Government’s ongoing strategy.
The eight benchmarks are:
- a stable careers programme;
- learning from career and labour market information;
- assessing the needs of each pupil;
- linking curriculum learning to careers;
- encounters with employers and employees;
- experiences of workplaces;
- encounters with further and higher education; and
- personal guidance.
The Careers and Enterprise Company will support schools and colleges to meet these benchmarks and Ofsted will hold schools and colleges to account for the careers provision they offer pupils.
Careers resources – including more than 800 job profiles developed in conjunction with industry experts – will be available from a new website to be launched by the National Careers Service next year.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said the success of the careers strategy would depend on how well schools respond to what they are being encouraged to do.
He said: “Longer term, there may need to be an adjustment to the Ofsted inspection framework so that all schools are assessed for the quality of the careers guidance they provide as part of their overall rating if not enough progress is made voluntarily.
“The area where there is less investment and action is on support for people needing to upskill or re-skill as they get older,” he added, insisting there needed to be more support for older workers who require careers advice or the opportunity to upskill.
“This is especially vital in the face of new technology and longer working lives, particularly against a backdrop of falling public investment in adult skills and lifelong learning,” he said.