'We have to make sure everyone has access to careers advice'

If we want to make it easier for young people to find the right career path, an easily accessible careers system is crucial, Angela Middleton writes

Angela Middleton

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Earlier this month, skills minister Anne Milton launched the long-anticipated careers strategy – based on four key points that have been established in order to improve upon what is currently offered to young people when it comes to choosing a career path.

The government has promised to ensure that every school and college will have a high-quality careers programme. This will provide opportunities for work experience, offer tailored support to each student, and utilise appropriate sources of information about jobs and career options.

We have been waiting two years for this, and it is positive to see the government acknowledging that careers advice should be made more accessible to everyone. If we want to make it easier for young people to find the right career path and succeed in what they do, steps like these must be prioritised. Yet there are still gaps in the government’s strategy that need to be addressed.

People should not be forgotten

The recommendation states that only those who have been unemployed for a long time and with additional needs are eligible to receive long-term careers advice. This approach excludes a wide range of individuals, including those who are currently in employment and who want and need upskilling so that they can find more fulfilling jobs. It is important that we don’t lose sight of this and that these people are not forgotten. Making sure that everyone has access to careers advice should be mandatory, in order to make sure we are giving everyone access to the best opportunities.

Some bodies have already criticised the strategy for not having enough funding, but this is not about the money, we have to look at more innovative ways of making careers advice accessible to everyone, particularly for adults and young people and their parents. This doesn’t have to be costly, it just needs to be easily available.

New website

One thing they have listed in order to do so is that there will be a new website which everyone can access. However, this will not be ready until 2020. It is a step in the right direction, however, a delay like this means that some people will slip through the net and not get the career advice they need to move forward.

The report also suggests that the burden on providing careers advice could still be on teachers as secondary schools, and colleges will continue to be responsible for making sure that their students can access independent careers guidance. The issue here is that teachers already have significant responsibility in educating our children, which is their main focus. It also remains to be seen whether teachers really will have the expertise needed to deliver high-quality careers advice, which is something that is desperately needed.

We can only benefit from individuals who specialise in giving careers advice coming into schools, and who have the real expertise needed to deliver the type of high-quality guidance our future generations deserve.

The government’s new career strategy has been long anticipated and it is widely welcomed. Ultimately, this is about making sure that it executed well so that everyone can be equipped with the skills to succeed.

Angela Middleton is chairman of apprenticeship training provider and consultancy MiddletonMurray


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