Careers and Enterprise Company under fire from MPs

The organisation has been described as a 'woeful waste of public money', the Commons Education Select Committee hears

Stephen Exley

Careers and Enterprise company Claudia Harris

MPs have raised serious concerns about the impact and purpose of the Careers and Enterprise Company.

One member of the Commons Education Select Committee claimed that it had been described as a “woeful waste of public money”, and said the performance of the organisation, which has an annual budget of almost £19 million, was questionable.

CEC’s chief executive, Claudia Harris, and chair, Christine Hodgson, faced robust questioning from the committee this morning, during a hearing which discussed careers guidance and delivery of the government’s careers strategy.

MPs repeatedly raised concerns about what evidence the CEC had to prove its effectiveness. In response to statistics about the number of “encounters” between students and employers that the CEC had facilitated, members of the committee called for hard data demonstrating the impact of these encounters.

Committee chair Robert Halfon said he “cannot understand” why the company did not have “proper measurements” to demonstrate its effectiveness.  “You may be doing a huge amount, but no one knows,” he added.

'Enormous' salaries

MP Lucy Powell criticised the “enormous” advertised salaries on offer at the CEC, citing examples of a chief marketing officer for £100,000, and a head of research receiving £60-70,000.

In response, Ms Harris said the organisation was “very careful” to control its costs.

Ms Powell also raised concerns about the remit of the CEC, suggesting that it had been asked to do “too many extra things” by the government, adding: “People don’t know what you’re doing.”

“I don't think you can convey what your impact is and what your purpose is,” she continued.

Ms Hodgson told the committee that its national network of “enterprise coordinators” connects clusters of schools and colleges with employers and careers programmes, and that it had received “plenty of positive feedback”.

But Ms Powell said one local enterprise partnership official had told the committee that the service was a “woeful waste of public money”.

Ms Powell added: “It feels to me like the government has given you these extra things to deliver for it, and you’re not actually in a position to do that properly because you’ve not got the experience and the central know-how to do that.”

Ms Harris said that, among the schools it had worked with that were surveyed, 80 per cent said the network was effective, and 80 per cent of employers “want to continue working with it”.

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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