Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Government calls for culture change in careers guidance

Skills Minister calls on employers to inspire young people as he responds to an Ofsted report on careers guidance in schools.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock yesterday called for all schools and colleges to follow the example of the best and provide inspiring careers advice to young people.

He also said it was vital that employers worked with schools and colleges to ensure all young people received high-quality careers advice - with employers taking centre stage in inspiring young people to get on in life.

His comments came on the day his Inspiration Vision and the government response to 2 reports on careers were published. Ofsted’s ‘Going in the right direction?’ was published yesterday (10 September 2013) and the National Careers Council report ‘An aspirational nation’ was published in June.

Mr Hancock’s Inspiration Vision sets the tone for the government’s position on careers guidance: all schools and colleges should do as the best do, put young people in touch with the world of work to inspire them about their futures and help them make fully informed decisions.

The government gave schools and colleges the responsibility to provide independent and impartial careers advice because heads and teachers know their pupils best. The previous system was replaced as it was often costly, patchy and of poor quality. Critics include Alan Milburn, formerly the chair of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions, who found very little support for the previous system (see notes to editors).

In yesterday’s response to the Ofsted and National Careers Council reports, the government has set out how it will help schools and colleges carry out this duty.

The government will:

  • revise the guidance it provides to schools and colleges. Due out in the autumn, the new guidance will be even clearer about what constitutes excellent careers guidance. It will ensure schools are focused on having high aspirations for their pupils
  • improve the information about where pupils go on to after they finish their GCSEs and A levels (destination measures). It will give schools and colleges more information to assess the effectiveness of their careers guidance

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Today we are announcing new action to improve careers guidance by holding schools to account.

People with fulfilling careers are the ones who can really show young people what it is like to succeed in the world of work. That is why I want more employers involved in providing high-quality careers advice to the future workforce.

We gave schools and colleges the responsibility for securing good careers advice for their pupils because they know them best. Ofsted highlighted excellent careers advice already being provided by schools, but I want all schools to do as the best do - inspiring young people, providing work experience and putting them in touch with employers.

There is also a challenge to us all: to respond to the world as it changes, to inspire, to motivate, to encourage and to create a skilled workforce to compete in the global race.

The National Careers Service will also be improved to give young people a greater understanding of the full range of options available to them. It will use its local networks to bring employers, schools, charities and social enterprises together. The government has maintained its budget for 2015 so it can continue to provide online, telephone and face-to-face support for adults of all ages. Its activities will be extended to improve the careers resources that are available to schools, young people and parents.

The government’s measures respond to the recommendations made by Ofsted and the National Careers Council reports. Ofsted pointed to good examples of careers guidance provided schools and colleges in its report. It made recommendations for the government, schools, local authorities, employers and the National Careers Service so all schools can provide high-quality careers guidance.

The National Careers Council report called for a culture change in careers provision for young people. It also called for an improvement of the National Careers Service, so it makes young people aware of the full range of options available to them.

The government response and the Inspiration Vision have been published on GOV.UK.

Notes to editors

  • the Ofsted report into careers guidance in schools is available on their website.
  • the government’s action plan in response to the Ofsted report is available on GOV.UK.
  • the National Careers Council annual report, published in June 2013, is available on their website.
  • schools have a statutory duty to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance on the full range of education and training options, including apprenticeships. This was introduced in September 2012 for year 9 to 11 pupils. It was extended to years 8 to 13 this month
  • the final report from the Panel on Fair Access, chaired by Alan Milburn, found hardly any positive views on the previous careers system
  • an Ofsted report into careers from 2010 - Moving through the system: information, advice and guidance - also found considerable variation in the quality of advice and guidance
  • the National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance to young people to help them make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential and impartial advice. This is supported by qualified careers advisers. Further information is available on the National Careers Service website
  • activities to inspire pupils will differ from school to school but could include:
    • hearing inspiring speakers introduce them to a world outside their regular communities and ideas of work
    • visits to real-world workplaces
    • widening advice on options to include apprenticeships, entrepreneurialism or other vocational routes alongside A levels and university
    • high-quality work experience that properly reflects individuals’ studies and strengths and supports the academic curriculum
    • help with CVs and mock interviews
    • mentoring those at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) to help them build the character and confidence to succeed


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