Don't write off Careers Scotland

14th April 2006 at 01:00
Your report last week, "School careers shift confirmed", is wrong to suggest that the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister stated that Careers Scotland has not been a success as part of Scottish Enterprise.

It would not be fair to the hard-working and committed employees of Careers Scotland to let that interpretation go unchallenged.

What Nicol Stephen actually said in his speech to parliament was: "In the Scottish Enterprise area, Careers Scotland has achieved a great deal, but I believe that the present arrangements have not delivered the organisation's full potential."

Let me expand on this observation. The fit with Scottish Enterprise has not always been easy, mainly because the key focal customer is different. Put simply, for Scottish Enterprise it is businesses and for Careers Scotland it is individuals.

While there is overlap between the work of Scottish Enterprise and Careers Scotland, there is not full alignment and the minister's recognition of this fact must be welcomed.

Careers Scotland has come a long way since it was created out of the 67 organisations that existed in the SE area. We are delivering a broad and cohesive range of services reaching into schools and workplaces as well as unemployed adults and job changers.

Last year, as an all-age career planning organisation, we worked with 185,000 individuals, a number that would fill Hampden Stadium more than three times.

We have secured effective partnership relationships with every secondary school, primary schools and FE colleges plus many other organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Customer feedback and external evaluations provide positive evidence of the difference we are starting to make for the people we work with, and the review of Careers Scotland against the OECD benchmarks gave a resounding endorsement of our model.

In fact, Careers Scotland represents the most substantial exemplar of the approach recommended by the OECD - a separate organisational structure to deliver career guidance independently from providers of education, employment or training.

That is an excellent platform on which to build in the future, and a far cry from an organisation that has not been a success.

Christina Allon

Director of Careers Scotland in Scottish Enterprise

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