Education & Family

Employers 'to take lead' in move to boost careers advice

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEducation Secretary Nicky Morgan: "We need young people to know about the opportunities that are open to them."

Employers will take the lead in a new careers body that will broker links between schools and businesses in England, say ministers.

The government has allocated £20m to start up the company but expects it ultimately to be fully independent.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the aim was to "inspire young people".

The move follows concerns that careers advice is far worse since schools took over responsibility for it from local councils in 2012.

Identifying talent

Mrs Morgan said it was important young people heard about all their options, including apprenticeships, vocational training and higher education.

Speaking on a visit to London's Crossrail project, Mrs Morgan said businesses were keen to develop more links with schools.

"It is worth employers investing in the future and they want young people to have the skills that they are going to be able to use in their workforce.

"They tell us they want to do more work with schools but often aren't sure who to contact and how best to identify talent for the future."

Mrs Morgan met 23-year-old Aaron Bedford, a joinery apprentice with Crossrail since May.

Mr Bedford said he had done a series of cleaning and warehousing jobs after leaving school with "basic GCSEs" in 2008.

"This is the best thing I have done so far career-wise," he said.

He hopes to continue to an advanced-level apprenticeship.

Mrs Morgan said changes to the National Careers Service would mean advisers could help young people as well as adults.

"What we don't want to do is to squash any of the excellent schemes that are already going on around the country, some of which will involve face-to-face advice.

"We want to build on that and spread that really good practice."

Image caption Crossrail is currently training 400 apprentices. The first trains will run on the new line in 2018

Christine Hodgson, current executive chairman of outsourcing company Capgemini UK, will chair the new company, which will advise schools and colleges, link them with employers and help boost careers advice in areas where it is poor.

It will also provide feedback to government on how well young people are being prepared for work.

Deirdre Hughes, who chaired a National Careers Council report into schools' careers guidance earlier this year, said the new body faced a number of challenges.

In particular she said a survey of 300 employers suggested more than half were not interested in engaging with schools because they saw no real benefits to their business.

'Poor decisions'

According to earlier research by the trade association Careers England, careers guidance was reduced in the overwhelming majority of schools in England after they took over the duty to run it in 2012.

Before that it was provided by local councils through the Connexions service.

David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association, said the job should be returned to councils.

"Too many young people have not received the high-quality, impartial and personalised careers advice they deserve since the responsibility to provide it was transferred away from councils to schools by successive governments.

"This failure to provide good advice can leave youngsters making poor decisions which have a potentially devastating impact on their future careers as they train for jobs that do not exist.

"Another national agency, tasked with the impossible challenge of matching thousands of local schools with two million employers, is a wasted opportunity and won't resolve the widening skills gap."

The Association of School and College Leaders said it was vital the changes resulted in more face-to-face guidance for pupils from qualified careers professionals.

"Today's proposals will stand or fall on whether they enable schools to put in place expert, professional support," said ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman.

Graham Stuart MP, chairman of Parliament's Education Select Committee said the greatest challenge was to get schools and colleges to take careers guidance seriously.

He said that without "a proper accountability system" too many schools would continue to fail to inform pupils about their options.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, urged the new body to ensure "all schools not just a self-selected few, work hand in hand with local firms to inspire and inform young people about their career options".

The CBI's director general, John Cridland, said it should "find and tackle local areas where young people are not getting the support they need".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites