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Government’s changes to careers guidance and education will leave young people at greater risk of becoming NEET

Changes to careers guidance coming into effect this week as part of the Education Act risk severely compromising the quality and availability of support for young people, and could exacerbate the problems they face when first entering the labour market, according to a report published yesterday (Sept 6) by The Work Foundation. The paper warns that the changes represent a false economy which could leave young people at greater risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training).

The authors raise a number of major concerns over the changes. Local Authorities will no longer be required to provide a universal careers service, and faced with severe budget cuts, many are scaling back or cutting Connexions services. Instead, schools have been charged with securing independent, impartial advice, but have been given no extra funding to do so. Combined with a lack of national standards for services, this risks severely impairing access to, and quality of, provision.

A lack of clarity around the new responsibilities also means that schools may be able to fulfil their obligations by referring to the National Careers Service, with the result that under-19s could be left unable to access face-to-face advice – a crucial element for personalised and effective support.

Lizzie Crowley, report co-author, said: “The government’s cuts to careers services are storing up much bigger problems for the future. These changes could see growing numbers of young people left without the support they need to effectively navigate their way into the labour market. This is short-termist thinking that will ultimately place a greater burden on the economy as rising numbers of young people find themselves not in education, employment or training (NEET).

“Our research has shown that most of the rise in NEETs in recent years has been down to young people struggling to make the school to work transition. With today’s difficult jobs market, young people need more, not less, support if they are to successfully make that first step.

“We would like to see the government rethink its plans for the careers service. We are calling for a renewed focus on work experience, work related activities and mentoring, along with subsidies for universal face-to-face provision. Furthermore, to be most effective, careers education must be embedded in the curriculum as early as primary school and expanded with age.” 

Drawing on an evaluation of the previous Connexions service, the report, Raising Aspirations and Smoothing Transitions, sets out a plan for ensuring young people receive the careers support they need. It urges the government to: 


·         Ensure careers education is embedded in the curriculum as early as primary school;
·         At the minimum, subsidise costs to ensure universal face-to-face provision for 13–19 year olds;
·         Re-introduce the Key Stage 4 work experience programme and ensure that   every young person has access to a genuine work experience;
·         Introduce alumni mentoring programmes;
·         Build partnerships between schools, providers and employers;
·         Ensure effective regulation and standardised quality for the provision of careers services.


Notes to editors


1.     Lizzie Crowley is available for interviews, briefings and written comment.
2.     Raising Aspirations and Smoothing Transitions: The role of Careers Education and Information, Advice and Guidance in tackling youth unemployment is available from the press team in advance or upon publication from
3.     The Work Foundation’s Missing Million programme is sponsored by Barclays, The Learning and Skills Improvement Service, Private Equity Foundation and Trust for London . Views expressed in the report do not necessarily represent the views of sponsors.
4.     The Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) is the sector-led body formed to accelerate quality improvement, increase participation and raise standards and achievement in the Further Education (FE) and Skills sector in England. LSIS is responsible for developing and providing resources that help colleges and providers implement initiatives and improve quality. This is achieved by commissioning products and services, identifying and sharing good practice throughout the system, and providing tailored programmes of support.
5.     Private Equity Foundation (PEF) was set up in 2006 to unlock the potential of young people with limited life chances. Its focus is primarily on the NEET issue. There’s no silver bullet so PEF supports children and young people from age four to 24, at home, through school and into the workplace. It provides the very best youth interventions, with funding and pro bono business expertise to help them improve effectiveness and grow. To date, it has changed 60,000 young lives through 19 charities.
6.     Trust for London Trust for London is the largest independent funder of projects tackling poverty and inequality in the capital. The Trust makes grants totalling around £7 million per year, supporting around 400 voluntary and community organisations in London at any one time. It was set up in 1891 and was formerly known as City Parochial Foundation.
7.     The Work Foundation aims to be the leading independent, international authority on work and its future. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.

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