Careers advisers must learn to talk in plain English if they are to convince the Government of their case for more cash, the former head of youth and education policy at the Department for Education and Employment has warned.
Ministers are frightened of reforms that would lead to expansion and better provision for all, assuming they will be too expensive, said Valerie Bayliss, now director of the Open Mind Project at the Royal Society of Arts.
But providers would make a better case in developing the guidance market if they worked to "demystify" the process, she said. "There is ample evidence that people find the concept hard to understand and the jargon of professionals off-putting."
Ms Bayliss is concerned that the Government has yet to spell out the functions of the "universal service", proposed in its post-16reforms, within the lifelong learning agenda. Ministers accepted that such an agenda was inevitable given the information explosion, exponential rate of development of technology and globalisation of markets. "If you accept the case for lifelong learning, you accept the case for lifelong guidance," said Ms Bayliss.
She is concerned that the DFEE will continue to have an influence. "I am bound to say that the department was not conspicuously successful in integrating policy when it was responsible for all of it," said Ms Bayliss.
Under David Blunkett, FE has developed a closer and more productive relationship with government, she said. But the guidance services still have to take a lead. "The guidance community has a responsibility to show leadership in opening up debate and getting the issues understood."