The recent focus on the general election inevitably gets us all thinking about the future, how things may change and, indeed, how things should change. In an industry that has seen huge changes over recent years, and with so much uncertainty still ahead, it seemed like an appropriate point to ask our collective membership what their recommendations to the government would be for a successful careers guidance policy.
The feedback gathered has drawn from tried and tested ideas from the past, as well as thoughts on the current situation, in order to pull together the following blue print of how we believe things should be happening. In no particular order, the recommendations can be grouped under the following 8 headings:
1) A return to regulated statutory guidance
The consensus view is that control and responsibility needs to be placed back with a public body (be it LEAs, the Department of Education, whoever…) who can provide and oversee a statutory and standardised approach to ensuring that schools are getting the support they need, and that the students deserve. It will surprise no one to hear that the current system has raised major concerns over consistency and poor standards with the key themes in responses being that the support needs to be impartial and delivered by fully qualified career staff, preferably in institutions that have worked successfully towards quality standards such as Matrix or Investors in Careers.
2) One-to-one (face-to-face) support
Whilst we recognise that the internet holds a wealth of useful resources, a successful approach to careers guidance needs to include a face-to-face component with compulsory individual guidance interviews taking place at appropriate points and, preferably, additional support for vulnerable students. The jury is out over exactly when this should happen but key points in Year 11 (and possibly earlier) with additional support for continuing students should be seen as priority ‘hot spots’.
3) Embedded CEIAG
CEIAG should be embedded and cross-curricular in nature, so that students are leaving education with correct and rounded knowledge of what the job market can offer and also what it demands in terms of employability skills. Previous frameworks such as ‘Ways and Choices’ were mentioned as an example of ways of helping to ensure consistency, and optimising resources. Whilst CEIAG should focus on key stages 3, 4 and 5 some responses suggested an introduction at primary level in order to help raise aspirations. Particular mention was made of the need for a component mirroring the old ‘Aimhigher’ remit but with support also addressing those looking into vocational pathways and alternatives to HE. Importantly, CEIAG should have a protected space within the timetable so it doesn’t lose out in priority to exam-based subjects.
4) Experiential learning
The need for effective compulsory work experience is needed to help students further understand, and start to develop, the skills needed for the workplace, as well as to help them make informed and appropriate choices in the future about the type of work that may best suit them.
5) Data sharing to allow appropriate intervention
The ever-present issue of youth unemployment needs to be tackled through the return of data sharing with local authorities, with particular focus on tracking students at risk of becoming NEET and of vulnerable groups such as those living in care or with special educational needs.
6) Strong national branding to increase visibility
Love or hate Connexions (and responses here were mixed) the consensus view valued the prominence that the branding gave to the career service profession, in a way that the National Careers Service doesn’t appear to be doing. Ideally this visibility should be enhanced by local career centres that are accessible to all.
7) Network of regional careers hubs
Following on from this idea, and to reflect the regional differences in job markets and opportunities, localised networks need to be formed that allow a concentration on local labour market information and which are tasked with providing regular updates to careers professionals to ensure that knowledge is up to date and relevant.
8) An all age service
To reflect the changing career landscape the statutory service should ideally be an all-age service; as appropriate and suited to career changers and mature students as to young people. The examples of current provision in Wales and Scotland were identified as examples to be followed.
This is by no means a definitive list, nor is it a list that everyone is going to agree with. But, refreshingly, it is opinions formed from those doing the job and those seeing, at ground level, what needs to be done differently. It is with a sense of ‘watch this space’ that we can only wait and see if any of these particular recommendations will become a reality in the future.
Many thanks to the following Working Advisers for your thoughts towards this blog post: Paula Dempsey, Jill Edwards, Jan Elkin, Anthony Fitzgerald, James Hankins, Marie McGee, Sharon O’Connor, Chris Sutcliffe, Trevor Turk and Paul Young plus a number of anonymous contributors.