Labour market information vital to the effective running of the careers service is inadequate, according to more than two-thirds of the people responsible for running the service, writes Ian Nash.
Too little information is given on student and trainee destinations by the colleges and training and enterprise councils (local enterprise companies in Scotland), a survey by The TES and the Institute of Careers Guidance found.
More than seven out of 10 careers advisers and counsellors questioned in the survey of services in Engalnd and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, said employment information was inadequate.
They say the service is also hampered by poorly-informed teachers and lecturers, poor employer attitudes towards the service and an unacceptable delay in the gathering of labour market information by TECs and Scottish LECs and passing it on to the careers service.
LECs were marginally better than the English and Welsh TECs, the survey suggests.The level of information was inadequate, according to 72 per cent of those who responded. Only one-third of these felt the service from TECs and others had improved since the careers service was privatised.
Many, partly out of frustration, had taken to gathering their own data. But many of these also complained that too much bureaucracy was hampering the service and leaving staff insufficient time for individual counselling.
The 28 per cent who though the supply of information adequate often qualified their verdict with statements such as "locally it is very good but nationally it is awful". One survey respondent said: "There has been a decline in the quality of information since joint seminars with the local authority were stopped. A cash crisis was the reason for the cuts."
Other problems commonly cited for hampering the service were "strictly-imposed Government targets"; "the growth of damaging competition"; "lack of robust quality standards"; "school interference in career choices" and "lack of interest from industry and commerce".
Careers advisers and counsellors in the survey called for more training and time to update skills, more cash and resources (cited by 24 per cent of providers), a higher profile in the community, a national careers service linking all providers and greater co-operation from all the players.
Full survey DETails, page 4
12-page careers pull-out