Ministers are 'burying their heads in the sand' on careers guidance, MPs warn

1st November 2016 at 12:00
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Co-chairs of Education, Skills and the Economy Committee accuse government of 'complacency' over careers advice

Ministers are “burying their heads in the sand” when it comes to the “unacceptable” quality of careers advice in schools, two select committee chairs have warned.

Neil Carmichael and Iain Wright, co-chairs of the Education, Skills and the Economy Committee heavily criticised the government’s efforts to improve the standard of school careers guidance, accusing the government of “complacency”.

The two MPs, who chair the Commons education and business select committees respectively, also pointed to the government’s failure to produce its strategy for careers education, which they say is long overdue. 

The concerns come after the sub-committee published a critical report on the quality of careers advice back in July.

In a statement, the pair warned that effective careers guidance was essential to create the skilled workforce the country will need post-Brexit.

“The government’s lack of action to address failings in careers provision is unacceptable and its response to our report smacks of complacency,” the co-chairs said. “Ministers appear to be burying their heads in the sand while careers guidance fails young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and exacerbates the country’s skills gap.”

The sub-committee’s report into careers advice criticised the standard of provision in schools, which it said was too often “patchy and inadequate”.

The report called for Ofsted to judge secondary schools on the quality of their careers guidance, and for no school to be rated “outstanding” if their provision is less than “good”.

It also recommended that all government-funded careers initiatives be brought under the umbrella of the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Both suggestions were dismissed out of hand by the government, a response the co-chairs described today as “disappointing”.

“The government should think again on careers advice, take on board our Committee’s conclusions and get its act together to produce a thorough careers strategy, which supports the needs of all young people and the economy as a whole,” they said.

Their concerns come as the Careers and Enterprise Company launched an online tool for secondary schools to improve their careers advice.

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