Following a round of Government spending cuts in 2011, Connexions, which provided free and impartial careers advice to 13-24 year olds, was left with significantly reduced capabilities, and many of its branches were closed. In April 2012 The National Careers Service was launched as an alternative provider of guidance for young people.
Accessed on-line and over the phone, the National Careers Service also offers free and impartial advice, however it doesn’t provide young people of school age the opportunity to meet with an advisor face to face.
Almost a year after the launch of The National Careers Service the Department for Education published its statutory guidance for Head Teachers, School Staff, Governing Bodies and Local Authorities on the provision of careers advice, which had significant implications for individual schools, their teaching staff and budgets.
From September 2013 it has been the responsibility of schools and colleges to secure and fund independent careers advice for students from year 8 up to 12, which includes quality assurance and the organisation of career activities such as ‘mentoring, workplace visits, work experience, work shadowing, enterprise clubs, employer talks and links with local higher education institutions’ (Statutory Guidance-The duty to secure independent and impartial careers guidance for young people in schools For Head Teachers, School Staff, Governing Bodies and Local Authorities, The Department for Education, March 2013)
With schools and colleges now overseeing the delivery of careers advice in schools and colleges, in October 2013 Ofsted carried out an inspection of the provision in 60 schools and found that in 45 they were failing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively. The inspection also found that schools were not properly promoting the National Carers Service, or achieving engagement with local employers. Furthermore the inspection also revealed that few schools had the skills, knowledge or capabilities to adequately provide careers service or bring in an external provider.
The growing concern around careers advice for young people is well demonstrated by the launch of an on-line petition in November 2013 by the Association of Colleges, which calls for the Department for Education to ensure that ‘All young people should have access to careers advice on post-14 education, training and employment options’.
More recently there have been positive developments, with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announcing in February 2014 that careers advice will be improved so that young people have a better understanding of their career options, which will include the launch of a new website with guidance on vocational qualifications, support for schools and employers to engage more effectively and Job Centre support being made available to 16 and 17 year olds.
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