THE "rich tapestry" of adult and careers guidance is at risk in the new "one-stop shop" of an all-age careers service, leading experts have warned. From next April, 80 organisations representing careers companies, adult guidance networks, education business partnership and local learning partnerships will be merged into 22.
Launching the plans in January, Wendy Alexander, Lifelong Learning Minister, said one of the aims was to "sweep away the clutter". But Jonathan Brown, until recently professor of educational guidance at the Open University and a former guidance adviser to the Scottish Secretary, has warned that the adult guidance community "represents a very strong, rich tapestry and they are not going to be swept away as mere clutter".
One group particularly affected, Professor Brown said, are those working for the 17 adult guidance networks in Scotland. "They are employed outwith the current careers service and will still be employed outside Careers Scotland after April 2002."
Professor Brown's reservations were echoed by Deborah Simonton, of the Key Learning Opportunities department at Aberdeen University, who urged Careers Scotland to support the current level of diversity. Dr Simonton is convener of the North East Scotland Adult Educators group (NESAE), and feels that the emphasis on careers guidance in the proposals "does not reflect the diversity of provision which must be supported within the context of all-age guidance".
She added: "I hope that Careers Scotland will envisage part of its role to be supportive and enable local grass roots work to continue in a collaborative framework in which all agencies are seen as genuine contributors."
The Adult Guidance Network Coordinators' Group in Scotland has welcomed the creation of a national service and is one of four bodies represented in the new organisation. It is now "making every effort" to ensure the role it can play is fully understood.
Education business partnerships believe they can make a "significant and powerful contribution". Iain Mackintosh, chair of EBP Scotland, said the involvement of the business community would give added value.
New futures, new departures, ScotlandPlus, pages 6-9