Careers advice rocket for Fife

The careers service in Fife has no idea whether it is an effective organisation+ or not. This is the major conclusion reached by one of the most hard-hitting + of any reports to have been published on Scotland's 17 careers companies. The + review, by Alex Neil, an independent consultant, states: "There is an absence + of any systematic, independent and reliable evidence which can measure the + impact and effectiveness of Fife Careers. "The report calls for systems that + "more effectively measure and monitor [the company's] impact on both young + people's career destinations and on employers' success in filling vacancies".A + startling finding is that 37 per cent of employers had not heard of the careers+ service, a level of ignorance that rose to more than 50 per cent in Glenrothes+ and Leven. Alec Thomson, chairman of the careers company board, admitted to + being "perturbed" at the lack of business awareness particularly given Fife's + compact nature. The position has, if anything, deteriorated since 1992 when + more than 80 per cent of Fife employers surveyed said they had heard of the + careers service.Mr Thomson, who also chairs Fife Council's education committee,+ said: "We need a much stronger system for measuring outcomes, particularly + the effectiveness of working with school pupils and leavers. It is also clear + we have to sell ourselves more vigorously to employers. "The Neil report makes + controversial recommendations for a radical overhaul of the service, in which + the careers company would change from being a direct provider to an "enabler", + contracting out its school work to the education authority and after-school + activities to the employment service. The recommendation for after-school work + to be contracted out to the employment service is partly intended to fit in + with the Government's welfare-to -work programme, which will increase the + career-oriented contact the young unemployed have with jobcentres.The report + also proposes a streamlining of contacts with employers who have to deal with + Fife Careers, the Fast-Trac skills programme and the Employment Service. + In-depth interviews with six employers concluded that the careers service + "needs to be much more proactive, particularly in servicing small businesses".+ One large company preferred to deal directly with school guidance staff, and + one multinational refuses to deal with Fife Careers because of "the low quality+ of service they provide". But another two were reported as satisfied.Mr Neil + recommends six steps for monitoring the careers company's performance and eight+ targets to measure its success including the destinations of young people up + to three years after they leave school. Mr Thomson said he did not wish to + pre-empt any decision by the careers company board but thought it would set up + a task group to address the report's criticisms.

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