Make good the lost five years

11th February 2005 at 00:00
You suggest that Connexions is to be abolished for doing what the Government asked it to do: to focus on young people most in need of social support and at risk of disengaging from society.

You also, unfortunately, misrepresent Connexions, which was not set up as a one-stop careers service, but as a one-stop support service. There is a big difference, as many pointed out at the start. It is no surprise that the careers element got squeezed in the face of pressure to help the disengaged. The latter is vital, but should not have been done at the expense of providing good careers education, advice and guidance for all young people.

Your editorial is closer to the mark in pointing to the contrast with the all-age careers guidance service in Wales, but still confuses the work of Connexions with that of careers teachers in schools, who are not part of it (a mistake) and in my experience did not want to see themselves in that role. These are not quibbles. The confusion of objectives and failure to see the difference between a one-stop shop and a one-size fits all professional support worker has left the service struggling.

We should applaud your conclusions that careers guidance needs to be transformed without losing what is good in Connexions We have lost four or five years when careers work could have been successfully modernised.

The real puzzle is why the Government has found it so hard to understand how much good careers guidance could help economic development.

Valerie Bayliss 30 Muskoka Avenue Sheffield

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