Skip to main content

Careers Advice

Volume 570: debated on Monday 11 November 2013

10. What assessment he has made of current provision of information, advice and guidance for young people. (900992)

We have introduced a new duty on schools to secure independent and impartial careers advice. For the first time, we have a National Careers Service and Ofsted will judge a school’s leadership on how well they deliver.

Careers Wales has referred 9,000 people to the Jobs Growth Wales programme and 75% of them are now in sustainable employment. Have the Government studied the Welsh experience?

Yes, of course; we have looked all around the world. We are increasing the amount of mentoring to ensure that we have the best people, including employers, to inspire young people to go into careers that will enable them to reach their potential.

Research conducted last month as part of professions week found that, of the 1,200 14 to 19-year-olds surveyed, just 40% had received any form of careers advice or guidance in the past year. In the light of Ofsted’s damning report earlier this autumn, will the Minister assure the House that further steps will be taken to ensure that the transfer of the duty to schools leads to an improvement in careers advice and guidance?

Yes, we are clear that we are going to strengthen careers advice. Ofsted’s statement that it will look into the quality of the advice that is given will ensure that schools deliver appropriate high-quality careers advice. That advice needs to be of a high quality, and it must be delivered by people who understand how to inspire and mentor young people to enter careers that will interest them.

The Government’s programme for school-based careers guidance has been slated by the OECD, Ofsted and the Chair of the Education Committee. Careers England found that the Government’s changes have caused a drastic reduction in careers services for some 80% of schools. What is the Minister going to do about that?

I am going to execute the plan that we set out last month. I welcome the hon. Lady to her post. The best way to solve careers advice is not to insist on a bureaucratic system of requirements, but to ensure that people in the workplace are closer to education and that schools communicate with employers, so that those who deliver careers advice understand the careers on which they are advising.

Does the Minister share my experience that it is quite unusual to hear someone of any age spontaneously talking about the excellent careers advice they received, and even rarer to meet someone who is in the job that they were once advised was for them? Is not the best advice often to keep one’s options open by choosing valuable, trusted subjects, hence the EBacc and TechBac?

It is undoubtedly true that the two most important vocational subjects are English and maths and that the best insurance against unemployment as a young person is to study more English and maths. I will, however, take my hon. Friend slightly to task. Many people were mentored by those who inspired them and from whom they learned a lot. Ensuring that all children have such relationships with people in the sort of careers that they want to enter is an important part of strengthening social mobility.

Ofsted reports that three quarters of the schools that it visited were not carrying out the duty to give impartial careers advice. That confirms what everybody out there knows: careers advice, information and guidance are in a state on this Government’s watch. When will they do something about it and protect our young people for the future?

Yes, indeed, we are acting, having inherited a complete failure in careers advice. The Connexions service that the Labour party keeps talking about was well known to be a failing institution, and when it was taken apart, it was agreed across the House that that was the right thing to do because it was not delivering. Instead, we have put in place the sort of guidance and inspiration that will help and support people all the way through and into their careers. Ofsted will hold schools to account, and that is the right way to proceed.