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One-stop careers service must wait

Plans for a single careers service for teenagers and adults will have to wait for resources, the FE minister has revealed.

An online version of Next Step, the adult careers guidance service formerly known as "nextstep", was launched last week to help learners evaluate their skills, keep a personal record of their qualifications and organise plans for learning, as well as access career information.

It also provides data on how to fund learning, from career development loans to bursaries, and is intended to supplement the service's face-to- face provision and its telephone helpline.

The Conservative manifesto had committed a future Tory government to replacing Next Step and Connexions, the careers service for under-19s, with a single, continuous, all-age service.

FE minister John Hayes said they still intended to bring together the two organisations and would act "as soon as resources allow".

Launching the web service, he said: "Making the right decisions about our skills and careers isn't always easy. Empowering learners means informing them, but even making the decision to seek out information and advice is a hurdle that some find difficult to surmount.

"I believe that everyone should be able to access information and advice about careers. Next Step is the right service to be helping people achieve their goals and improve their work prospects in these difficult times.

"I am looking at options for bringing together guidance resources for young people and adults, in an all-age careers service, and we will act as soon as resources allow. Next Step is an important achievement on the road towards that destination."

Careers advice is already under funding pressure. Local authorities responsible for the under-19s service are cutting the Connexions budget by 11-50 per cent, according to careers advisers and unions, as they struggle to cope with reduced funding from central Government.

However, Next Step's services for adults, which include 3,000 careers advisers at 400 locations in England, are funded directly by the Skills Funding Agency, however.

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