Marsden: more funding needed for careers advice

But apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon says Technical and Further Education Bill will 'transform' the prestige and quality of FE and skills provision

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Greater investment is required to improve the quality of careers advice in schools, according to shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the Technical and Further Education Bill last night, Mr Marsden called for a comprehensive review of the careers service.

But a Labour amendment requiring the Government to publish a strategy on careers education was defeated by 274 votes to 186.

The bill received an unopposed third reading and will undergo further scrutiny in the Lords.

Mr Marsden said the Careers and Enterprise Company was heavily reliant on volunteers and did not reach every part of the country, including London.  "I am not laying the blame for this at the door of the Careers and Enterprise Company," he added. "I believe that the government are expecting them to do too much with too little. I also believe that to have a company which is so heavily reliant on volunteers to carry out these tasks is actually probably something the government needs to think about and look again at."

Mr Marsden went on to highlight news revealed by TES last week that the Department for Education had shelved plans to introduce legislation to force schools to give equal importance to vocational routes in careers advice, and stressed that satisfaction with careers advice was low across schools and colleges.

'Ladder of opportunity'

Speaking in the same debate, apprenticeships and skills minister Rob Halfon said proposals to reform apprenticeships would "transform the prestige and quality" of the sector, creating a "ladder of opportunity" and improve the productivity of the country.

The bill renames the Institute for Apprenticeships as the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and extends its remit. It will also create an insolvency framework for further education and sixth-form colleges to better protect students.

Mr Halfon said: "I'm clear about the priorities that we want to see in apprenticeships, further education and skills - creating a ladder of opportunity for all, a transformation of prestige and culture, widespread high-quality provision, a system that addresses our skills needs, social justice and job security and prosperity.

"And this bill seeks to build those priorities into our system, bringing to life the fundamental reforms needed to ensure that we have a skills education sector that rivals the best in the world. For too long technical education has been overly complex, overlooked and undervalued."

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