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Quality in Careers Standard

Volume 605: debated on Monday 25 January 2016

6. If she will make it her policy to require all schools to work towards a quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance recognised by the quality in careers standard. (903205)

We want to spread excellent practice in schools in respect of careers and employment engagement activity to help prepare young people for successful working lives. That is why I launched the Careers & Enterprise Company, which is connecting employees from firms of all sizes with schools through a network of enterprise advisers drawn from business volunteers. I know that my hon. Friend has met the chairman and chief executive of the company. Its role is to harness exceptional schemes such as the Humber careers gold standard, which my hon. Friend has championed and which encourages the delivery of inspiring careers advice.

It was great to hear at the weekend that the Secretary of State was going to act to give further education colleges and apprenticeship providers access to our schools, but the central challenge in the careers space is the lack of incentives for schools to play with when they have so many high incentives in relation to exams. Will the Secretary of State change Government guidance to introduce a requirement to work towards an award that fits the quality in careers standard?

I thank my hon. Friend for welcoming the announcements that were made at the weekend. He is right: the quality of careers advice is paramount. That is why we have published more robust statutory guidance, and why Ofsted already has to inspect and pass judgment on the ways in which schools prepare young people for their careers.

We are considering how to create the right incentives. We will consult a range of organisations, including the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Quality in Careers Consortium Board, and will publish a new careers strategy in the spring.

15. It is bad enough that the Government do not value face-to-face careers advice, but, according to Ofsted, only 8% of young people have even heard of the national careers telephone helpline. What plans has the Secretary of State to raise its profile and prepare our young people properly for the world of work? (903215)

I have already mentioned the Careers & Enterprise Company, which will be working with schools and local enterprise partnerships all over the country to create a network of enterprise advisers and co-ordinators with the aim of ensuring that young people can engage in a range of activities. This is not just about calling a telephone helpline; it is about a mixture of work experience, inviting speakers to schools, understanding why young people are studying certain subjects, and enabling them to get out and experience mini-apprenticeships.

I lost my voice at the weekend, and I am afraid that that makes it a bit harder for me to speak.

The all-party parliamentary group for education will shortly launch an inquiry into how well our education system is preparing children for the world of work. Will the Secretary of State ensure that schools have enough resources to teach “soft” skills, such as IT skills, so that young people are well prepared for their careers?

The hon. Gentleman’s mellifluous tones can still be heard. I am pleased to inform both him and the House of that.

I very much enjoyed listening to the hon. Gentleman’s question, and I welcome the work of the all-party parliamentary group. We are, of course, already teaching computing throughout all the key stages of the national curriculum, having introduced coding last year. The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the important role of our education system in preparing young people for the world of work and for 21st-century Britain, and I look forward to hearing more from the all-party parliamentary group.

Four years after scrapping work experience at key stage 4, shredding Connexions and local careers service funding, and giving schools careers advice responsibilities but no resources, the best that the Secretary of State could do yesterday was blame schools for outdated snobbery over apprenticeships. Is it not a fact that she has been stung into action by the continued barrage of concern—the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce spoke of a “national embarrassment”—and that the Minister for Skills needs some sticking plaster for his appearance before the Select Committee this afternoon as part of its urgent inquiry on careers advice?

Will the Secretary of State ensure that careers advice and apprenticeship take-up are included in Ofsted’s assessment? Does she think that volunteer enterprise advisers—however hard-working—and a mere £20 million for her enterprise company will undo the damage that we see in the Government’s previous record?

If the hon. Gentleman wants to talk about previous records, he should think about the previous record of his own party in government, when it completely failed to prepare young people for the world of work. In fact, it perpetuated fraud on them by allowing them to do technical and professional qualifications that did not lead either to satisfying the requirements of employers or to university. He clearly failed to listen to my earlier answer in which I said that Ofsted already inspects on careers advice and almost £70 million is being spent during this Parliament in relation to careers.