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Ministers 'morally obliged' to overhaul school careers guidance

The government is "morally obliged" to improve the quality of careers advice in schools, teachers' leaders have said, after a survey showed pupils want “drastic” changes to the way they receive jobs guidance. 

The research, published by the Association of Colleges (AoC) today, found that young people want more detailed, hands-on careers guidance, including information on what jobs actually involve, as well as “have-a-go” experiences to get an idea what skills are needed in the world of work.

In 2012 the government handed control for independent careers advice over to schools. Up until then it was administered by the local authority through the Connexions Service.  

Since the change, ministers have come under serious criticism from the likes of Ofsted and the Commons Education Select Committee for the lack of decent for careers advice on offer.

The report, Careers Guidance: Guaranteed, says that while there were pockets of good practice, on the whole, the level of advice needed to improve.

The study led to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) to claim ministers were "reckless" by ditching the old system of careers advice.

"It is no surprise young people are unsatisfied with the level of careers support they receive,"Adrian Prandle, policy adviser at the ATL said.

"The government was absolutely reckless, especially in a period of high youth unemployment, to scrap the careers service without providing a proper replacement,"  

“Change is now urgent. The government has a moral obligation to properly fund careers guidance that is accessible to all young people.”

The AoC report identifies four strands that are needed for best practice in careers guidance.

These are relevant local information provided face-to-face and online; exposure to the world of work through ‘have-a-go’ sessions or ‘day in the life’ videos demonstrating what a job involves; longer-term work experience; and more direction and structure to careers guidance sessions.

Michele Sutton, AoC president, said: “Young people are calling for a more experiential model of careers guidance and want more work experience and sessions that help them get a better grasp of what roles in, say, engineering or IT really involve.

“They’re also telling us that they need more practical guidance about how to go about researching jobs they’re interested in, and the steps they need to take. Children turn to their parents and teachers in the first instance and it’s our responsibility as adults to become better informed about the local jobs market to be able to offer more relevant, realistic and timely advice.”

The report is part of a wider project being carried out by AoC to promote best practice around careers guidance in schools and to put colleges at the heart of the process.

This stage of the project involved parents, children and careers advisers at workshops in London, Middlesbrough and Weymouth discussing their experiences and needs in more detail.

An earlier survey of 2,000 11- to 16-year-olds carried out as part of the project found that teachers and parents were “struggling” to keep up-to-date with the latest employment trends and may be stifling children’s career aspirations as a result.

Revised statutory guidance for careers advice in schools, which sets out a clear focus on preparation for work, was released by the government in April.

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