New careers strategy unveiled by Government

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Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister of State for the Department for Education. Credit: Jay Allen Copyright: Crown Copyright

Tailored advice will be at the heart of a new Careers Strategy designed to make sure young people have the skills they need and employers want post-Brexit.

Under the strategy, the Government promises that every school and college in the country will have a dedicated careers leader in place by the start of the new school year.

The promise is backed by £4 million of funding and is aimed at providing tailored support to students via leaders who can “give advice on the best training routes and up-to-date information on the jobs market, helping young people make decisions about their future”.

The Government has also allocated £5 million to set up 20 careers hubs across the country in areas judged to be most in need  that will “link schools and colleges with local universities and employers to help broaden pupils’ horizons”.

Launching the strategy at the Careers Development Institute annual conference in Birmingham, skills minister Anne 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.”

As part of the new strategy, secondary schools will be also 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.

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the CIPD said:

“We welcome the enhanced role for the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) in building links between education providers and business at a local level so more young people have contact and work experience with employers while they are at school. More than 600 CIPD members have volunteered to be CEC Enterprise Advisers to help lead efforts to make these connections and we will be continuing to support and champion the need for employers to work with their local schools and colleges to boost employability and careers insights among young people.

“However the success of the strategy depends to a large degree on how schools respond to what they are being encouraged to do and, 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 up-skill or re-skill as they get older. Beyond plans for a new, improved National Careers Service website ‘for all citizens’ there is little in the strategy to suggest that there will be sufficient support for older workers who increasingly need high quality careers advice and opportunities to learn new skills. 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 life-long learning.”

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Managing Director City & Guilds added:

 “It’s positive to see measures such as the promise to have a dedicated careers leader in place in each school by the start of the new school year, the 20 careers hubs in disadvantaged areas and the pledge that every child should get a quality interaction with an employer at least once a year. However, I believe that there is still much more to do and greater investment is needed to really get this right, we also need to ensure that we rigorously measure the outputs of this work to ensure that it is working effectively. It would also be good to see careers education made available in a format that will truly capture the attention and imaginations of young people by making greater use of creative online and social media solutions.

 “Action in this area is sorely needed to enable young people to make informed choices about what they study. Our Great Expectations research, which looked at young people’s career expectations, worryingly found that teenagers across the UK were aware of just a fifth of jobs that would be available to them. This puts the next generation on course to miss out on vital employment opportunities for their futures.

 “Our research also highlighted the concerning postcode lottery in careers advice that many young people across the country are facing which is exacerbating sector skills gaps and creating regional disparities. We therefore need to ensure that careers provision is properly linked to local labour markets and projected job availability. Employer engagement with schools and colleges will be key to this. Not only will this help young people understand exactly what options are available and what next steps they should take, it will support schools and colleges deliver meaningful and practical careers advice.”

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