Careers cash is being pulled - not pruned

29th April 2011 at 01:00

Your report on the lack of funding for the new all-age National Careers Service ("Government fails to deliver on promise of unified careers advice", FE Focus 22 April) significantly understates the problem.

You state that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) funding of pound;84 million is well below the pound;200 million that had been mooted last year. But the BIS funding is earmarked for the components of the service addressed to adults. The expectation was that it would be complemented, for young people, by Department for Education funding of around pound;200 million - the current notional spending on the career guidance component of Connexions.

In the co-ordinated BIS and DfE announcements about the new service issued on 13 April, a DfE statement on its funding contribution was conspicuous by its absence. Fears are growing that this contribution may be confined largely or wholly to the pound;7 million currently provided for the telephoneweb-based services provided by Connexions Direct.

For the crucial face-to-face services, the Government has indicated that in future it expects schools to purchase such services, either from the all-age service or from other providers. Yet there has been no discernible transfer of funding for such services to schools.

The DfE appears to be cynically using school autonomy as a smokescreen to conceal the fact that it is not just pruning its funding for face-to-face career guidance services, but withdrawing it altogether, thus effectively undermining the BIS plans for the all-age service. Unless a credible announcement on this issue is made very soon, the DfE will be open to charges of collective deceit and hypocrisy.

Professor Tony Watts, Cambridge.

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