Careers squeeze

8th September 2006 at 01:00
There are real concerns about the very short timescale for the disaggregation of Careers Scotland in the southern half of the country, on which you reported last week.

The short timescale will threaten the continuity and quality of the service to schools and young people, as there are major challenges and significant practical difficulties in such a large and complex disaggregation.

Through the de-merger process, there must be transparency about the transfer of resources (including all capital resources) from Scottish Enterprise to the new organisation, such as buildings, capital receipts, and leasing costs.

Staff morale may suffer again from the current set of changes, and attention must be paid to this as they are expected to continue to provide a good service.

Schools and authorities experienced a diminution in service when the organisation was previously transferred from local authorities to Scottish Enterprise. Support seemed to shift away from the "core" service of careers work with school-age young people - an example was cited of Careers Scotland being unable to provide subject choice advice to S5 students.

There is a strong feeling amongst directors of education that the service must re-focus on the age group up to 19 years, as this is their core business.

Rather than express a view on the destination or structure for Careers Scotland, our main concern is that the transition and the core service to schools and young people is: a) delivered properly; and b) embedded as a key life skill in the curriculum.

There therefore has to be the strongest possible link with local schools in the re-configured service and strong representation from directors of education and children's services in the new governance arrangements.

In summary, we need a service focussed on the needs of young people up to the age of 19 with particular emphasis on developing decision-making skills within the curriculum and also on the potential NEET group.

The transition should be fully resourced. ADES would support the option of Careers Scotland being established as a stand-alone public body, provided that education authorities and young people have a lead role in the governance arrangements, both as the main users of the service but also (in the case of authorities) as major employers.

We would like to see a clear business plan for the new organisation(s) and to see local andor regional arrangements operating as shared services across authority boundaries.

We note the proposal from the SmithHunter group to lead such a careers organisation at a national level, and would support this proposal with the caveats mentioned.

John Stodter

General secretary

Association of Directors of Education in Scotland

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