The National Advisory Council for Careers and Educational Guidance says a free basic service should lead to a range of more advanced paid-for advice. The council, established by the Confederation of British Industry and the Royal Society of Arts, estimates that the service would cost Pounds 10 million a year to run and Pounds 5 million to set up.
The paper says the service now provided for adults is fragmentary and the quality varies from very good to totally inadequate. Access for many people is a matter of chance or is non-existent. A national helpline routing enquiries to local lines should be established as a "key element in promoting national coherence between services," it says.
"The price of inadequate guidance is counted in high drop-out rates from education and training courses and inappropriate and low levels of skills in the labour market."
But the paper is likely to fall on deaf government ears. Last week Education and Employment Secretary Gillian Shephard told a conference of providers of the newly-privatised careers service that she had no intention of funding a scheme for adults. She said the new careers advice companies would soon be providing such a service.
The consultation paper is available from Lesley James, RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ, price Pounds 5.