I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
When my name was first pulled out of the private Members’ Bill ballot, I was presented with a wonderful surprise and a rare opportunity—a chance to take forward real and meaningful change on a matter that is very close to my heart: helping young people to realise their potential. This Bill affords us a genuine opportunity to put words into action by changing the law to extend careers provision in schools.
At present, the statutory duty to provide careers guidance falls on maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units, but not academies, although many academies do indeed have a contractual obligation to secure independent careers guidance through their own funding agreements. This landmark piece of legislation will seek to address this anomaly by placing the same requirement on all types of state-funded secondary schools, helping to create a much more level playing field. It is also paramount that the advice available to our young people should be consistent, of the highest quality and accessible across the board. The standard of guidance should be based not on a postcode lottery, but on a set of clear principles with the best interests of the children at its heart.
As a father of four, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that children face in school and how difficult it can be to decide on a suitable career path. Choosing a career can be an incredibly daunting experience; I am 39 and I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Without the proper guidance, it is easy for young people to find themselves on the wrong path and facing in the wrong direction.
We need early ongoing discussion that involves the young person in a process of continual reorientation, making them aware that they are masters of their own destiny and allowing them to make informed choices at every stage of their journey. This will allow for intervention and advice to prevent them from going too far down a blind alley or a career cul-de-sac, and discovering too late—or certainly not as early as they would ideally like—that they are not where they would like to be. That is why it is so important that we give our young people the best careers advice we can at the very earliest opportunity.
The choices we make at school during this critical early phase help define who we are, what we go on to achieve and ultimately who we become. This legislation is also particularly important and timely given the disruption caused by covid-19. We know that many young people are understandably anxious and uncertain about their education and employment prospects in these unprecedented times. Their ideas about their next steps may well be changing as they respond and adapt to the considerable challenges ahead. We have a saying that the north wind made the Vikings—in other words, adversity can be beneficial if we use it as an opportunity to make us stronger, but even the Vikings would not have got far on their nautical adventures without suitable navigation tools or the right skills. That is why it is so important that young people receive the right advice at the right time to make the right choices for them.
In my constituency of Workington, there are pockets of deprivation and unemployment. As someone who grew up in the heart of northern working-class communities, I am aware of the stark disadvantages faced by so many young people. They have so much to contribute, but often they are written off far too soon. Recognising the existence of a problem is the first step in solving it, and we must close this attainment gap and ensure that no child is left behind. If we are serious about levelling up, giving all children access to careers advice is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal.
Young people need support to understand their options and to act on them. Careers guidance helps them make sense of the labour market and navigate successfully into education, training or employment. Providing this enhanced careers education and guidance makes economic sense, too, because it will contribute to a high-skills, high-productivity recovery. It will support all young people in developing the skills and attributes they need to succeed in the workplace, and in some cases will nurture the community leaders of the future.
My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. Can I be clear that the Bill extends the statutory duty to academies to provide careers advice? I am shocked that they are not doing that already. Does he have the number of academies that are not providing careers advice?
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention as he makes an important point. Many academies, by virtue of the funding agreements put in place over the past eight or nine years, are under a duty to provide this guidance. Many of the others will be doing so. Off the top of my head, I think about 1,300 out of 2,800 do not have it in their funding agreement. The Bill puts them all on the same statutory footing, giving Ofsted the tools it needs to manage consistent careers advice across the board.
The Bill extends careers advice down from year 8 to year 7 to ensure that our children are given the information they need to make the best possible choices. Speaking to the point that my hon. Friend just made, it will bring academies in line with local authority-controlled schools. It will help ensure that everyone has the same opportunity, regardless of their postcode, but it will also give Ofsted the tools it needs to ensure that our children, from across the country, are benefiting from first-rate careers advice throughout their school career.
The Bill will put into statute the Government’s commitments in the “Skills for jobs” White Paper for the UK’s post-pandemic recovery. It will build on the important work already being done nationally under this Government to develop a coherent and well-established careers system. The Careers and Enterprise Company, for example, is increasing young people’s exposure to the world of work.
Does my hon. Friend agree that where formal careers advice can be given, there is also an opportunity for volunteers to come into schools and talk about their careers and what they do? That is something we really should be pushing. Lawyers, business owners, doctors or people who work in the Foreign Office can come in and speak to those schools in their local areas and show children what is out there for them to do.
Indeed, and I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. That is exactly part of the Careers and Enterprise Company’s remit: supporting schools and colleges to deliver world-class careers guidance with the use of enterprise advisers from the local business community so that they deliver in line with the Gatsby benchmarks.
We also have the National Careers Service, providing free careers information, advice and guidance to young people and adults through a website and telephone helpline. More than 3,300 business professionals from local businesses are working with schools and colleges as enterprise advisers to strengthen employer links. Almost 3.3 million young people are now having regular encounters with employers, which is up 70% in two years. I am grateful to the Careers and Enterprise Company for its engagement with me on this issue and in particular for its recognition that there is much more to do.
Before I go into further detail about how the Bill fits into all of this, I would like to take some time to commend the excellent work already accomplished in my constituency in the face of often large socioeconomic challenges. The Cumbria Careers Hub was launched in January 2019 to deliver the Government’s careers strategy for Cumbria after the local enterprise partnership’s skills investment plan identified a significant challenge regarding developing skills in the county. I am pleased to report that the hub currently includes 37 schools and four colleges and has the ambition to achieve full coverage across 52 institutions in the next academic year.
The Cumbria careers hub is exceeding national performance on careers education across three quarters of the Gatsby benchmarks, most notably regarding employer encounters and experiences of the workplace. It also exceeds the national careers hub average. The process is accelerating, with 100% of schools in the hub matched with an enterprise adviser from a pool of senior business volunteers.
The process is being replicated successfully across the country, with 45% of secondary schools and colleges now in careers hubs. We are also seeing rapid improvements, with hubs in disadvantaged areas among the best performers. Careers leaders’ roles have been developed in schools and colleges and are becoming a recognised profession.
My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech and I commend him on the Bill. On deprivation, what is his assessment of the impact that the Bill will have on children in deprived communities and their career aspirations? I apologise if he was about to make that point, but I would love him to emphasise that, because it is at the heart of his fantastic Bill.
My hon. Friend makes an incredibly powerful and important point on deprivation and the ability to have business volunteers as enterprise advisers face-to-face with those children, showing them that options are available to them if they may not favour an academic route or be able to go on to university. This year, of course, we have seen the launch of T-levels, which gives alternative options at 18 as well. I will come to some of that further on.
Without a doubt. Again, it is really important to have that face-to-face interaction with employers, showing people who may not be as academically minded as some of their peers and wish to go on to university that there are options available to them post 16 and post 18. In my constituency, we have often led the way on apprenticeships, but it is important that that is replicated across the country.
My hon. Friend is being very generous. He is making a powerful speech, and I commend him on the Bill. He mentions technical education, and of course the Baker clause mandated more careers advice on vocational, technical education. I look at the Bill enviously—I will make a speech on it later—as the Baker clause and the Bill pulled together will provide great careers advice in England. Can the Bill also apply to Wales if that was wanted?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. I understand that it is in the competency of the Senedd should it wish to do to something similar. I will come to this, but I have a fantastic university technical college in my constituency and have met regularly with Lord Baker of Dorking on the Baker clause and UTCs. He has done some fantastic work in that space.
By October 2021, 1,950 careers leaders will receive a fully funded training bursary, and 2,750 will benefit from a free online careers leader training course. The link between careers and career pathways is essential for the development and attraction of talent to Cumbria owing to the area’s declining working-age population. It is therefore critical that we nurture home-grown talent, giving our young people the skills and confidence that they need to make the most of opportunities in a global Britain. This will help close the skills gap in areas such as Cumbria and attract investment. However, it is not simply enough to nurture talent; we must also retain it. This new Bill will help to ensure that young people are aware of the opportunities that lie on their own doorstep, as well as those that exist further afield.
Cumbria is lucky enough to have an award-winning enterprise adviser, Roger Wilson, enterprise adviser of the year 2018, who works closely with the Careers and Enterprise Company to provide support to the Enterprise Adviser Network. I am delighted that Cumbria careers hub also celebrated two careers champion winners this year—Beacon Hill for innovation and its now former headteacher Judith Schafer for leading the way.
I will also take the opportunity to mention Step Up Cumbria, which was launched to support year 11s to make a transition into further education in response to the challenges of covid-19. It was relaunched with a new website in April 2021, an online platform developed primarily for year 11 school leavers to find information on further education opportunities in Cumbria. The programme has now been updated in recognition that the covid-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging time for students, especially for those leaving school this summer and looking to begin the next chapter of their education and career journey. The programme itself was established by the Cumbria LEP’s people, employment and skills strategy group and sponsored by the Cumbria careers hub, with learning resources provided by Lakes College in my own constituency, Carlisle College, Furness College and Kendal College.
It may be helpful if at this juncture I set out in a bit more detail what the Bill does and why it is so important. Maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units now have a statutory duty to secure independent careers guidance for year 8 to year 13 pupils. For pupils of compulsory school age, this must include information on 16-to-18 education and training options, including apprenticeships. This is a good starting point, but it needs to go further. Therefore, this Bill will extend the duty to all pupils in all state-funded secondary education. It will establish consistency across education settings by extending the statutory duty to academy schools and alternative provision academies.
Moreover, all academy schools and alternative provision academies will also be required to have regard to the statutory guidance that underpins this legal obligation. This simplifies the current system, whereby careers duties are imposed on secondary schools through a combination of statutory provisions and contractual arrangements, while some of the older academies are not under any careers requirement whatsoever. The Bill will extend the statutory careers duty to all academy schools and alternative provision academies, placing the same requirements and standards on all types of state-funded secondary school.
These legislative changes will put all pupils in all secondary schools on the same footing. Having spoken with a broad cross-section of education leaders and careers advisers, as well as parents and other stakeholders, I feel that the importance of extending the careers duty to all secondary pupils cannot be overstated. We need to start setting out to children as early as possible the options that will be available to them—not just sixth form and university, but further education, apprenticeships, T-levels and other technical education qualifications. The earlier our young people start to consider these options and receive the appropriate guidance, the greater their chance of making the best possible choice.
University technical colleges form an incredibly important part of our offer, but that could mean changing schools at age 14. We must do more to open up this option to all of our young people, and I pay tribute to colleagues in this House and in the other place, such as the right hon. Lord Baker of Dorking, who works tirelessly in this field.
While it is important that young people are aware of their options, the last thing we want is for them to get to year 9 and feel that their options are being imposed upon them. Young people often tell us that one of the biggest barriers is not knowing what careers exist. Engaging with employers from an early age can inspire young people. It can also help them relate the career opportunities available to their circumstances, abilities and interests.
The legislation recognises and makes use of the work already undertaken as part of the national careers system. But, more importantly, it continues to raise young people’s aspirations through regular and meaningful engagement with employers and their workplaces. The legislation will build on work to promote access to all pathways from education through encounters with education and training providers, and access to high-quality careers and labour market information. I look forward to seeing the legislation pass through this House, but I am even more interested to see how it will help future generations on their own journey to fulfilling their unique potential.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing this forward. I know this is mainland-only education, because education for Northern Ireland is done through the Northern Ireland Assembly, but I am very happy to support the hon. Gentleman. There is no doubt that the thrust of what he has put forward is the very same thing that we wish to see in Northern Ireland. So I want to replicate and support what he is saying, for the very reasons that he put forward on behalf of his own constituents, but also on behalf of education across the English mainland.
In Strangford, I have a good working relationship with South Eastern Regional College, which has responsibility for careers. I have sat on the board of governors at Glastry College outside Ballyhalbert all my married life. I remember returning from honeymoon, and the board of governors meeting was on and they were surprised that I turned up. That was some 34 or 35 years ago—so a long time ago. The relationship I have had with local colleges has been incredible, and the important role that they play in giving students career pointers is vital. The hon. Gentleman has outlined that point, for which I thank him.
We have a working relationship and partnership with local secondary and grammar schools. In my constituency of Strangford, most of those skills are probably physical. In the Ards peninsula in particular, there is great demand in the construction sector, whether for building, carpentry, plumbing, plastering, or electricity work. All those physical skills are developed through courses at the local college. That means that in many cases, young boys and girls in local grammar and secondary schools perhaps already know where they are going. We live in a rural community, so there will also be great demand for students, boys and girls, young men and women, to go into agriculture, which is also something we wish to see.
The hon. Gentleman has exactly grasped the point about the importance of these interactions, partnerships and local communities. I still sit on the board of governors of Glastry College. I am not going to mention any names, but some young boys there I knew from the beginning were never going to achieve educational standards because they were going to work on the farm—a family farm in the local community. Sometimes it is good to have those opportunities. Not every person will excel at education—not every person can, because we are all different and have different abilities. The community part of this is important. I have lived there for all but four years of my life.
When the hon. Gentleman says that not everyone can excel in education, does he mean that not everyone can excel in academic education, but that we also have technical levels, which give those children an opportunity to excel in something that is not academic, but a more technical vocation that gives them skills and helps them to get amazing jobs?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I thank her for making that point. Although I did not say that, that is what I meant. She put it much better than I was able to and I thank her for that clarification.
ICT skills are also important. There is the business and financial sector, the agrifood sector, as well as renewable energies and recycling. Those are all important businesses for the economy as we move forward. There are health and life opportunities, as well as advanced manufacturing and engineering.
In Northern Ireland, I have talked this over with the Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, and he was telling me about the dearth of engineering skills in Northern Ireland. It is rather disappointing—I have been in contact with my further education college—that it does not have a course for engineering. All my elected life, whether on the council, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or now as the MP for Strangford, I have supported engineering opportunities for young boys and young girls. The Minister told me that there were 800 opportunities in engineering in Northern Ireland—the dearth is as big as that. It is important to look at these things as well.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the disproportionate amount of technical education that takes place in academies will lead to a significant boost to the careers facility and careers development overall for secondary schools in England?
I certainly do. To be fair, the hon. Member for Workington said that in setting the scene, which is why I am very happy to support the thrust of his contribution.
In Northern Ireland, we have seen a growth in business and financial services, with excellent wages and opportunities for advancement. Although our wage structure in Northern Ireland is not as high as on the mainland, we can already see opportunities for better wages. It is essential that we future-proof and engage our young people to ensure that they can take the opportunities that exist across Northern Ireland.
As I said, that is a devolved matter. I am not convinced that we have fully grasped this approach in Northern Ireland in relation to engineering; it seems that we must not have if there are as many as 800 job opportunities available and people have not taken them up.
It has been a parliamentary ambition of mine to intervene on the hon. Gentleman, so I am happy to fulfil that today. He is making a powerful point about the devolved nature of this matter. Does he share my view that we must push to get measures such as the Baker clause and the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) into the devolved nations, and will he implore them to look at today’s debate and put something together in a devolved fashion?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I send all my contributions in this House on to the relevant Minister in Northern Ireland. I hope that the relevant Minister reads them. I cannot be sure, but in this case I think she will, because she happens to be a colleague of mine; she is not only a political colleague, but she is elected to the same constituency, Strangford, as an MLA. For me, it is critical to ensure that what is happening here today can be replicated in Northern Ireland. I have already taken up directly with the relevant Minister the issue of the engineering dearth and the importance of filling that gap, but I will follow this through again today.
It is important that we forge a way forward that can deliver the career opportunities that the hon. Member for Workington referred to. It is my belief that the meeting of all these things should be facilitated by a direct Government strategy to bring them together. I know that the hon. Gentleman hopes to get that response from the Minister, and I am quite sure that he will. I know the way the Minister responds to these issues, and the hon. Gentleman will certainly get a good response on investing in our greatest and most important resources—our youth and their ability.
Information and communications technology is concerned with software development, databases and so on. Many questions and strategies are based on a database; no matter what field it is—whether it is health or education—we need the database. I therefore believe that ICT is another career opportunity for young students and pupils.
Let me conclude by congratulating the hon. Member for Workington on bringing forward the Bill and thanking all those who have had a chance to intervene. We look forward to a positive response from the Minister for the hon. Gentleman. I congratulate him on having his Bill before the House in a very short time. I hope that I will be as successful with my Bill later on.
I start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on his success in the ballot and on bringing forward this important Bill that I absolutely endorse because if, like me, hon. Members believe in extending opportunity to all, careers guidance is one sure way to do that. In fact, I believe in it so much that more than a decade ago I set up my own charity If Chloe Can to bring careers guidance to schools.
I work with schools across the country, including many in deprived areas, with pupils from all backgrounds in all areas. I bring them successful people from backgrounds such as theirs who have wonderful careers to inspire and motivate them, and to make them start thinking while they are in school, “What would I like to be when I leave school? What can I do? What would I like to achieve in my life?”. How can anybody aspire to work towards something exciting in a career if they do not know what careers exist—more importantly, if they do not know what careers exist for them? They need to see people like them achieving in all walks of life.
Letting pupils know early on, while they are in school, what paths are trodden, what hobbies are done, what work experience can be gained, and what exam grades are needed for a profession is absolutely key. It fires pupils up to do more in school and to go for those grades, because they know what they are in school for. I have seen pupils doing so much better in education once they have a purpose and they know what it is all about.
I am sorry to interrupt, because my right hon. Friend is making an important point about where we find careers advisers and from which backgrounds they come. Would she say a little more about the people who are going into schools and how they are incentivised to do so and to help by preaching about their success, and to lead as an example in their community? We could all do with understanding how to do that in our constituencies to encourage it further.
Most people, if asked, really want to go in and speak to pupils about what they do and the opportunities that are out there. I work with more than 200 successful women who give up their time for free because they want to help the next generation of pupils to do well. In the last decade, I have worked with thousands of pupils; I have written career books; and I have done a touring play with the National Youth Theatre and spoken to a thousand pupils at a time with panels of experts on stage who, as my hon. Friend mentioned, all gave up their time to talk about an array of different subjects.
When it comes to career opportunities, it is sometimes overlooked that there are opportunities in arts and culture, as the right hon. Lady has referred to. It is not always about jobs in construction or engineering; there are other opportunities out there as well.
Absolutely; that is what it is all about—finding the profession for the individual. What makes them tick and inspires them? Good consistent careers advice can change lives. Without it, some pupils will just drift, not knowing what they want to do.
Without doubt, covid has brought about significant changes in the world of work and in the teaching landscape. Good careers advice has always been important, but never more so than now, with the disruption in schools and the changes in the job market. It is really important to support young people. Data suggests that 65% of children currently in primary school will enter a job that has not been invented yet. As we know, that will not be a job for life. People will do a series of jobs, and that will speed up. That means that they will have to learn, relearn, upskill and reskill on a regular basis.
Clare Hayward, a leading businesswoman and chair of the Cheshire and Warrington local enterprise partnership put it simply: “We need to inspire young people about an array of jobs, new emerging jobs, roles they might never have been thought of in tech, digital, life science, jobs of the future. We need schools to engage with the business community who are alert to these future opportunities and have staff who can talk passionately and excitedly about these jobs. And we need schools not just to push traditional careers and traditional routes after school,” but to focus on all the opportunities that are out there.
I apologise for interrupting my right hon. Friend; she is making a very powerful point. Placements in work have been extremely important, especially in this post-covid period. Does she agree that when pupils, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, go into a workplace and see that there is something they can do, it raises their aspirations?
My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. It is about seeing how things are done. Some people can get all their inspiration by sitting in a classroom, but many cannot. They have to see the practical application. They have to see that job and that is what will inspire them.
My right hon. Friend is articulating her point very well, and I pay tribute to the work that she has done in this area. Does she agree that it is okay for young people not to know straightaway what they want to do, and that by giving them those opportunities, they can be malleable? We all know what a career change is like, and some of us might have another career change after this, but I am sure she would agree that having options is important.
My hon. Friend is so right. Blessed are those who know immediately what they want to do. Some people might know, perhaps in sport or if they are creatives or those who are gifted in a certain way. Many of us do not know for many years. In fact, life is a journey, finding out where we fit in, and we will do many jobs along the way, hopefully adding to life and society as we go along.
My right hon. Friend is making an interesting point about the fact that we will have many different careers and relearn and have to look at new jobs that come along. There is an interesting point here: if people are allowed to get experience and gain advice from careers advisers early on, whatever they do later on in their life, they have the understanding of how they can engage with businesses and how they can find out about new careers. Doing it sooner serves people much better later in life if they do decide to make changes. Can my right hon. Friend see the Bill going further on that in future years?
Absolutely; my hon. Friend makes a very good point. It is important that someone knows that they are going to have to upgrade their skills, where that support is and that it is not a mountain to climb, but that they will probably do it alongside their career throughout their life.
I believe, too, that we cannot put more on the shoulders of teachers. The Government need an updated careers strategy and better links with the National Careers Service and the Careers & Enterprise Company and to signpost better so schools know where they can turn to get the extra support. Not every teacher will know about every profession. They need to bring other people in, so that signposting to those voluntary organisations, charities and businesses is absolutely key.
To take up my right hon. Friend’s point about access to careers advice, has she found, in the fantastic work that she does through her charity, that covid has meant that more people are using interactive, virtual communication and that this enables a greater throughflow of information on careers? She made the point about the difficulty for teachers of knowing everything. This will mean that they can have a greater contribution from the outside world than was possible previously.
I must ask my hon. Friend: has he read my speech? That is exactly the point that I was coming to next, so he has fed me very well for my next line
Technology should be an enabler, too, providing greater and more diverse career advice. In the last 18 months during covid, my charity went online. It is now working with Zoom so that we can deliver online weekly sessions to schools over the year, with role models, guest speakers and modules on confidence, communications, goal setting, assertiveness and resilience. It is up-to-date, of the moment, real-time information, interactive and thoroughly questioning so that children can know where they want to go. It is bringing out pupils’ curiosity, linking businesses and schools, pupils and professions, using the Gatsby benchmarks and offering multiple touchpoints over the year, with different role models in different careers. It shows pupils post-school opportunities, whether those are apprenticeships, jobs, further education or universities, and it looks, too, into funding, sponsorships, learning on the job or just getting a job.
Careers advice to support pupils’ choice is key. It is about the pupil and their choice and fulfilling their ambitions. It is not about schools ticking boxes about where people go afterwards. We need to make sure it is about the pupil.
This is a big area and there is much to do. This Bill is by no means the end of the story, but it is a very important step. I am particularly pleased to be able to support my hon. Friend the Member for Workington in his mission—his ambition—on something that I know is very dear to his heart.
I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for bringing his private Member’s Bill to the House and for his excellent and heartfelt speech. Not only is he the father of four children, but it is quite clear to all of us from his general commitment to the subject that this is a cause very dear to his heart. I also commend the speech, and the huge practical commitment, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey). It was an outstanding contribution, based on huge experience and huge commitment, and something we can all learn a great deal from.
I strongly support the Bill, which addresses the anomaly whereby academies are not currently bound in the same way that local authority schools are to provide careers guidance. I would also like to pick up on the point, made eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams), about the importance of the Welsh Government also learning from this. Speaking as the representative of Clwyd South, which has a considerable number of people who struggle in life, to put it frankly, and need all the help they can get in planning their careers and taking them forward, I think this Bill, and all the important information and objectives in it, is highly relevant to the Welsh education system as well.
As the father of two daughters who have not long left the secondary school system themselves and are now pursuing careers at university, I know just how vital careers support and guidance can be for pupils of secondary school age. We have considerable experience of discussing with them what they would like to do later in life, and all the help that they can be given is vital. Not only does it give young people the tools they need to make informed decisions about which subjects to study at further and, in some cases, higher education; it helps in channelling the interests and innate talents of our young people into rewarding and fulfilling careers later in life. As other speakers have mentioned, careers guidance and support is particularly vital, as covid-19 has led to uncertain career prospects. Young people, particularly the most disadvantaged—to whom I have referred already—need help from schools to access education, training and careers opportunities, and to navigate the labour market.
In my day—some years ago, it has to be said—careers advice was not up to much, but it was a much simpler process, as the job opportunities were much more limited. Now the range of careers open to people to follow is vastly greater—which is something we should all welcome—and much more varied, more sophisticated and in many ways more fractured, so help is vital. I am pleased that this legislation will not only extend the current requirement to provide careers guidance to include children in year 7, but will implement the proposals in the “Skills for Jobs” White Paper, published in January 2021, which my hon. Friend the Member for Workington referred to. The Bill is therefore part of a wider strategy on the part of the UK Government, which I strongly welcome and support, to develop a more joined-up careers system, which includes personal guidance for young people and improved access to digital services nationwide.
For example, the Department for Education is supporting a range of measures to ensure that all students choose a career that is right for them, including—as has been referred to—the Baker clause, which ensures that all schools and academies must publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education, courses and apprenticeships to visit schools and talk to all pupils, and ensure that the policy is followed. One particularly important theme that has emerged from this morning’s debate is the importance of balancing the academic with the technical and vocational. In my case—I hope they will not mind my saying this in the Chamber of the House of Commons—my children have different aptitudes. One is more technical and vocational; one is more academic. I think that both fields are equally important. Both can lead to equally challenging and fantastic careers. I am delighted that in the 21st century, unlike the last century when I was setting out in life from school, the technical, the vocational, the engineering that has been referred to are considered to be as important—as vital—as the academic careers. That will be further enhanced and strengthened by the Bill, because the academies will bring an influx of increased technical careers advice into the system. I believe that many academies are very well financed, and I hope that one of the unexpected benefits might be a big boost for the whole careers system from that additional demand from the academies.
The National Careers Service, which was launched in 2012, provides people over the age of 13 with free and impartial information, advice and guidance on learning, training and work opportunities. The services are provided face to face, via telephone and online, and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton said earlier, the introduction of virtual and Zoom technology will make a significant difference in that respect.
I strongly support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) about professionals going into schools. I have done so myself, to talk about both my political career—such as it is—and, more importantly, the work that I did in finance and business beforehand. I take on board her point about careers advice being important at all ages and at all stages in a person’s career, because one never knows when one might need it.
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to my authorship. I am not sure that the House wants to be detained by significant details of what I have written about, but suffice it to say that it covers the hospitality industry, in the context of Lake Vyrnwy—which resides in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams)—and architectural and social history. The point that I think is implicit in my hon. Friend’s intervention is that one never quite knows where one’s career is going to go, so the more advice one can get earlier on, the better it is.
Let me return to the practical advice given by individuals going into schools. The fieldwork done for the Government studies shows that nearly all face-to-face and telephone customers, and now, I think, virtual customers—96%—experienced some form of positive outcome in the six months following their call or meeting. I think we all know of young people who are nervous about their prospects, and recognise that a helpful conversation with someone who is friendly and experienced can make a significant difference to the choices that they make in life.
The “Skills for Jobs” White Paper aims to improve compliance with the Baker clause, as has been mentioned previously, through the introduction of a three-point plan to create legal requirements and take more action to enforce compliance—something with which I strongly agree.
More broadly, the Government have taken action to address the impact of the pandemic on career opportunities for young people. It includes one of the key policies introduced by the Government, which I think all Members on both sides of the House would strongly support—the kickstart scheme, which provides funds to create new six-month jobs for 16 to 14-year-olds on universal credit—as well the Department for Education’s employment and skills guide. I know from my own constituency, and I have heard other Members say the same about theirs, that the kickstart scheme, which is in many ways closely related to the ambitions of the Bill, has had a massively beneficial effect on young people’s employment prospects.
One of the great things about the kickstart scheme is that it not only guarantees a job for six months but it guarantees on-the-job training. We are all interested in ensuring that people are not just shoved in somewhere before being booted out the other end but are getting something that will help them later in life, which is great training and opportunities.
I thank my hon. Friend for his excellent intervention, with which I strongly agree. It is important that not only do we give advice but that we give training, too. This point was made earlier in the debate. People do not necessarily know what they want to do career-wise and, therefore, the opportunity to take part in a particular career, albeit at a relatively low level, gives them valuable experience.
The other important thing is instilling ambition. I have many manufacturers and established SMEs on my patch, and one of the things they talk about is having a route from apprentice to managing director. Does my hon. Friend agree that will be a big part of this careers advice?
Absolutely. I could not agree more, and one of the hugely beneficial aspects of careers guidance and education, in preparing pupils at secondary school for further education and the working world beyond, is the much greater emphasis on apprenticeships. I am particularly proud of the UK Government’s involvement and all the apprenticeships they have introduced, but it is a key part of the private sector, too.
I have spent quite a lot of time over the past five years going to careers fairs with my two daughters, and I noticed even in that five-year period a significant change in the emphasis from the academic and traditional routes to the more technical routes. The apprenticeship system enables those routes to become a reality so that we are now seeing young people who, rather than going to university, are perhaps taking a course with an accountancy firm or a legal firm. They do a combination of apprenticeship training in that particular profession and practical work, which is a very attractive route.
I completely and utterly concur with my hon. Friend. Does he agree that the brand of degrees and undergraduate programmes now needs to step up to what we are doing with apprenticeships, career apprenticeships and traineeships because, actually, a person can study to level 2, level 3, level 4 and all the way through to degree apprenticeships, earning while they learn, and not have to gather lots of student loans that will stay with them for a very long time?
I could not agree more. I strongly feel that this is a hugely beneficial improvement to the education and careers system. For too long, there has been a stratified, structured approach in which only the academic route at universities really matters. My older daughter is studying a vocational course at university, which is fantastic and is to be strongly supported. My hon. Friend’s point is made with passion and great accuracy, and I hope we can develop more of it within the education system.
There is also a point to be made about how the universities are currently approaching education. I strongly hope they will go back to face-to-face teaching, because it is simply not right that teaching should continue virtually while, for instance, we meet in physical form here in the House of Commons.
I strongly support my hon. Friend’s intervention. This is something that has been brewing in my mind as I see the fractured form of education that is being provided by the universities attended not only by my children but by the children of many of my friends.
My hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici) spoke about the integration of training and paid work within the further education system, and that process will shake up the universities by making them realise that it is not just about academic courses or the odd lecture. It has to be a much more structured and much more concentrated form of education for our young people.
In conclusion, I add my voice to those of other hon. Members here today in supporting my hon. Friend’s Bill, which does a great deal of good for pupils across our country and will no doubt have a tangible and positive impact on our young people at a time when they are making some of the most exciting and important decisions of their entire lives.
Let me start by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson). He has put a lot of effort into this Bill, and he has obviously cared about this issue for a very long time. The way that he has approached this Bill has been gratefully appreciated by Labour Members. Not only has it been open-hearted, but he came to see me and briefed the team alongside the Minister, showing that he is dedicated to getting the Bill through, not just at any cost but in a way that takes the House with him, so that it will deliver some of the outcomes that he is after. As I say, it was a very open-hearted speech and a very informative one for everyone in the Chamber.
The right hon. Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) made a very informative speech, and it was good to learn about some of the practical work that she has been doing in schools up and down the country. She sparked a series of interventions and a debate about her work, which focused on how important it is for people, particularly from deprived communities, to have experience of different workplaces, and I absolutely agree with that. It is really important that people from deprived backgrounds have experience not just of university campuses, but of business environments, especially prestige business environments. I say that not so that we channel young people in a certain direction, but so that, should they choose that career pathway in the future, it will not be a leap into the unknown.
We also need to recognise that there is an equal opposite. I hope that students who attend schools in areas of advantage and affluence also take time to experience the modern manufacturing workplace, because they do not often have experiential time in such settings. They need to get that experience, because the modern manufacturing and vocational workplace is extremely exciting and offers incredible careers. We need to make sure that young people from all backgrounds experience all different types of future pathways so that they will not be making a leap into the unknown.
After the huge expansion of the academy programme, thousands of schools across the country now operate independently from local authority control. An increasing proportion of these schools are now part of multi-academy trusts, pooling resources, expertise and governance with similar groups of institutions. There are real questions about the way that some academies—not all academies—operate. The majority, as with every other school, are very dedicated to the future pathways that local young people take. As a former chair of governors of an academy, I know full well the effort that many academies and schools of all status put into ensuring that the pathways for young people are the best ones for their talents. None the less, some academies and multi-academy trusts operate their career development in a way that is not fit for purpose, and it is clear that the requirements placed on many schools in this area must apply to them, too.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) has in the past few days introduced a Bill to ensure that MATs are looked at by Ofsted. Will the Official Opposition commit to working with him and with people like me, a former special adviser in the Department for Education, who support my hon. Friend and agree that a small number of MATs need extra oversight, particularly in areas such as careers education, which we should be driving forward for everybody?
Only on Wednesday I had a conversation with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) about his Bill, for which he, too, is an enthusiastic salesperson. The Opposition are certainly open-minded to that suggestion. I have already met the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North and will stay in touch with him, and he has met the shadow Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), to talk about his Bill. I am happy to meet the hon. Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) as well—in fact, I would do so enthusiastically—to talk about not only the issue at hand but others, too, because there are more shared beliefs about the way forward to tackle the core education challenges than is sometimes apparent in the heat of debate, even though we diverge on specific things when it comes to their application in practice.
The Bill before us will go some way towards tackling the challenge of fragmentation and the ways that some schools deliver careers development in different ways. We welcome any moves towards the embedding of high-quality careers education throughout all state schools equally. Such education is a vital way to expose children to options for work that are alternatives to those that surround them as they grow up.
Careers & Enterprise Company research found that 73% of children who receive careers education feel more aware of different careers and 69% have a better understanding of what they need to do to achieve their ambitions. Under this Government, though, far too many children are missing out. According to that research, only 30% of schools and colleges have a stable careers programme, meaning that thousands of kids are missing out.
The expansion of an existing legal duty to cover all schools is welcome—it is common sense—but a more fundamental challenge needs to be addressed. We must ensure that schools have the capacity and expertise to make careers education a true priority. Cuts to school budgets have had a real effect on school leaders’ ability to prioritise careers. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found that despite Tory promises to level up spending, per-pupil funding will not return to pre-2010 levels by the end of this Parliament.
When spending is squeezed, it is natural that schools prioritise subjects such as English, maths and science, and topics like careers are so often left behind. Indeed, when one speaks to the academies that do not prioritise careers, often the reason cited is that they simply do not have the resources to do everything.
The hon. Gentleman talks about funding, but I worked in education for 22 years prior to coming to this place and I have seen the effects of the huge amount of funding that the Labour Government put into education. It did nothing whatsoever to improve education; in fact, it decimated the good work that was happening, because although funding is important, it is more important to get funding in the right places for the right reasons. More funding is not always needed; it is about getting funding in the right places to do the right thing for the students, not the staff.
I do not think this is the debate in which we should go down that path—[Interruption.] Well, I am happy to compare the two records. We are entering an era in which the school day is reducing at a time when there should be more experience. Just this morning I heard a message from a parent who had been contacted by the school to tell him that the school day was being reduced, to finish at 2.55 in the afternoon, because of the lack of resources to allow teachers to go through the day and to do all the prep work that they need to do. For one day a week, the school day is being reduced for a further half hour: each Tuesday is called a compression day—
Let me finish the point; the hon. Lady cannot intervene on a response when it was her own intervention in the first place—I know that enthusiasm is rewarded in this place, but one must not get ahead of oneself. It is not possible to make the argument that there is no link between investment and outcomes in education. We will have plenty of opportunities to debate the comparable records of both approaches.
Groups such as the Careers & Enterprise Company do excellent work, but they need attention and effort from a school careers lead, too. With funding squeezed and super-sized classes on the rise—my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) released data to the House in recent days showing that 70% of students are now in class sizes that are rising above 30—the job has been made more difficult. It is welcome that the Government are beginning to acknowledge the importance of career development. However, with Ofsted characterising provision as a mixed picture, there is much more to do. This Bill is an important step, but it is a first step. The Government need to follow Labour’s lead in putting careers education at the heart of its school programme, and we will be working with them to make sure that they do.
What a pleasure it is to follow the hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle). I did not agree with everything he said, but some of his points were apt, particularly those about prestige careers; young people from my community certainly have not had access to those.
When I was first elected, I visited my local further education college, Hopwood Hall College. One of the most encouraging things I discovered was that the principal of that college, Julia Heap, said that her version of levelling up was to ensure that every learner from her college had the opportunity to take any job they wanted to and had the aspirations to look at any job, so she was matching her students to those careers from the start. I want to talk briefly about Hopwood because it already has quite a robust careers programme, which is the sort of best practice that we could probably learn a bit from.
The college has been investing in careers for quite a while now. In fact, one of its careers advisers, Ceri Wood, won the national Careers Champion award in 1920—[Interruption.] Oh, I mean 2020. I do apologise; we have invented a Tardis. Due to the pandemic, the college was one of the first to have its matrix quality standard review carried out remotely, and it is now part of the working group to review the new matrix framework. It successfully achieved the bronze Quality in Careers kitemark, and continues to work with external agencies such as Positive Steps and the National Careers Service to support the aspirations of 16 to 18-year-olds, adult learners and beyond.
That raises another important point: this is not just about young people. There are lots of adult learners. We have already touched on the fact that several of us will have multiple careers. I am sure that quite a lot of us are hoping that those careers will be in this place, but we have to be realistic about the fact that that may not be the case. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) made an extremely important point when she said that lots of young people will go into jobs that do not yet exist. We need to ensure that there is agility, and constant lifelong learning is an important part of that. In introducing this Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) is embedding some of that into how things are done.
Let me turn to the importance of industry placements. Again, Hopwood Hall is one of the colleges introducing the new T-levels. In fact, I think it is taking on seven courses, which is quite a weighty onboarding. Like a lot of colleges, it has struggled to get industry placements during the pandemic, which starkly shows how important such placements are. In order to make them a success, people need to be able to go into the workplace; that workplace experience will drive a lot of future development. The college is still working with employers to support students. Several large employers in the area, including Engie, Prevail and Pretty Moi take them on already. That is hugely encouraging, but if there are any employers listening right now, I encourage them also to get in touch.
During National Careers Week, the college held virtual events, so it has been trying to keep this programme going during the pandemic. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes) mentioned that this is a really good way of getting the information through in a large stream. It is especially true that teachers will not always have access to all the knowledge of what is available out there in the workplace, so this virtual engagement has been important, notwithstanding the importance of being able physically to go and do stuff; I think we are all enjoying being physically back here.
I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South that universities should absolutely be going back to face-to-face teaching as soon as possible. I spoke to a young trainee nurse the other day, and her single biggest complaint was that she was being charged a fairly substantial amount of money but was not able to do parts of her course. How can she realistically go on to a ward and catheterise somebody or draw blood if she has never physically done it? For some jobs, it does not matter how many technical manuals people read. Some of us are fortunate enough to be academically minded. I count myself in that; I am thoroughly impractical, as anybody who has ever seen me trying to change a tyre or a plug will attest to. But lots of people learn by doing, and that kinaesthetic learning is important. If we are talking about parity of esteem between technical education and academic education, as there should be, we need to give people the tools to do it.
Hopwood’s other big achievement is that it is now part of a careers coalition. It has recognised that these things cannot be done in a silo. The charity that my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton mentioned is a perfect example of that. People almost need a roving brief when it comes to careers. We cannot say, “This college has a fantastic careers service and this one does not.” Best practice needs to be shared, especially when different colleges share different competences. Hopwood has an extremely good relationship with Rochdale College, which is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Tony Lloyd), as the name would imply. It tends to specialise more in GCSEs and A-levels, whereas the more technical and vocational courses tend to be at Hopwood.
The college has recognised that sometimes, because of a lack of guidance and a lack of information available, people find themselves on the wrong course. There are plenty of colleges that will simply get them through the course. They will drop them down a grade and say, “Aim for a D”—actually, it is a numbered system now, isn’t it? That shows my age. It was not O-levels I did; I did take GCSEs. Hopwood recognises that not everyone is on the right course. People will find a year in that things are not going properly. The college has that constant dialogue and transitions people on to different courses. It will move them on to a technical qualification, or it will move people who have proven themselves to be more academically minded off a vocational course and send them to Rochdale. They will have that dialogue about what they are trying to achieve with their career. That is a really important part of developing this area. If we are to have a statutory footing and we are going to embed that Baker clause, a wider-ranging approach is definitely needed. Colleges need to be having that dialogue as well.
The other thing I would like to pick up on is that the Bill will guide more people into apprenticeships, which is very dear to my heart, so much so that I will give a namecheck to a young man called William Lee, who just joined my constituency team on Monday as an apprentice. That has been a game changer for us. We have this bright young person who clearly wanted to be involved and working in politics, and he did not know what was available to him. He had looked at academic routes. He is very bright and very articulate, but when someone starts applies for these jobs, employers will say, “What is your experience? What is your background? What is your involvement?” I put out a search for an apprentice researcher, because I wanted to give an opportunity to somebody who knew they wanted to do this, but did not necessarily know how to do it. We are three days in, but he has been an absolute godsend.
If there is anyone out there who is looking for a way to bring someone on board as part of their team—it might be a small team or a big team—apprenticeships are a fantastic way of giving somebody an opportunity. It is about that onboarding without necessarily looking at the traditional academic routes. To be fair, there is a large amount of learning time involved in apprenticeships. They are rigorous. Modern apprenticeships are every bit in parity with an A-level or a tier 3 qualification, and we should definitely be looking at those.
Pardon my rambling—I had a series of ideas I wanted to cover, and some very good points have been made that I wanted to pick up on. This is an incredibly important piece of legislation, because no student should be missing out on that opportunity. It may only be a college of 1,300 students, but that is a lot of young people who are missing out on access to proper careers advice. That is a huge amount of damage being done.
The one thing that we all share across the House is the idea that the worst possible thing is wasted potential. There are a huge number of people out there who, for whatever circumstances—it may be down to the community they grew up in, their economic means or their family situations—do not necessarily have the same opportunity as their peers, and careers advice is a good way of levelling things up. We need to ensure that when we talk about levelling up, equality of opportunity is the basis. Education is the silver bullet in almost every sense. It is the one thing that gives everyone a fighting chance. We have recognised already through how we have reformed education that not everybody learns the same or has the same goals, but everybody wants to get ahead, and the Bill ensures that we embed into the system that people know where they are going with that.
It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson). His point at the end on not wanting to waste potential is key to the debate and to the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson), which I rise to support.
I know that my hon. Friend is passionate about this subject, on which I have heard him speak on numerous occasions. His own career path has taken him through a wide range of training providers and led him to these green Benches. His Bill is an excellent set of proposals that supports the aspiration of extending opportunity to all. It would require that all state-funded schools in England provide careers guidance for children for the entirety of their secondary education. That is the right thing to do, because the evidence tells us that starting young is key to making careers advice work and stick as a catalyst for the people it is aimed at. Aligning our legislative framework with the Gatsby benchmarks would put us on the right footing to deal with not just the challenges that young people face as a result of covid but future challenges, which we know are many and varied. We have a changing employment scene, and people will have to continually upgrade their skills, pivoting right or left—whichever way they might have to go—and this approach would set them on that learning path early doors, which we should encourage and support.
We all know that skills are the most essential thing that people can gain these days. When I was at school, it was presented as a binary choice—either go to university or do not—but now the framework is different. The paths to be followed to a successful career are very different indeed. I have worked in charities, run a small business, worked for a large corporate and worked for small and medium-sized enterprises, and at each stage I learnt something new. That helped me with my career progression. It is essential that we embed that principle in young people as much as we can. Let my example be a warning to anyone that if they spend their tender years—and perhaps not so tender years—not knowing what they want to be when they grow up, they may end up here lecturing people.
The Careers and Enterprise Company ran a survey last year and discovered that almost three quarters of school and college leavers believe that careers education has become even more important because of covid and that they are prioritising it more as a result. High quality careers education is crucial, and evidence shows that it is linked to higher academic attainment in terms of both motivation and exam results, with those who know what they are aiming for and how to get there working harder and being more motivated to get to it. That leads to increased wages on entering the workplace, reduced chances of being not in education, employment or training and a better alignment of careers aspirations with the labour market. My hon. Friend is so right to be aiming towards that.
I will give a real-world example of why that matters, why it is important and why it works. Furness College, based in my constituency, is one of the top-placed colleges for apprenticeship recruitment. Figures from 2020—not 1920—show an increase of more than 12% in students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds taking up apprenticeships in that year. The college trains more than 700 apprentices each year in 20 sectors, with more than 80 apprenticeships to choose from. It genuinely pitches its apprenticeships to the labour market meaning that students entering the college have a higher certainty of getting a job and the right skills to go on not just to a job but to a job beyond that and solid career progression. The college has a dedicated team of development coaches who work with employers to ensure that they are helping to meet training needs. The coaches can often help in accessing skills grants, so the funding piece is supported, too.
That is all good stuff, but it shows how important it is to build those links between industry and education. As many hon. Members have said, we really need to embed aspiration at an early age, when people can see the direct link between a career they hope to get to and how they can accumulate the skills they need to get there. That is what the Bill seeks to unlock, and that is why I am so keen to give it my support.
The Bill is the missing piece from the “Skills for Jobs” White Paper, sitting alongside commitments to help people find a career that is right for them, providing a cohesive careers system, clear information and signposting and the right infrastructure to deliver that strategy. With young people more than ever facing uncertain career prospects, they need help from schools to access education, training and careers opportunities to navigate the careers market. Crucial as this Bill is, it is worth noting that it comprises only one strand of a thick bowstring of activity being supported by this Government at the moment. Many Members have mentioned the kickstart scheme, which provides funding to create six-month jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on universal credit. I wish to highlight the work of one provider in my constituency, Right2Work, for which I have a particular soft spot. It helps young people with complex needs through supported internships. It is a back-breaking piece of work trying to find jobs for some of these young people and supporting them into them, but thanks to the kickstart scheme they have been got into not only supported internships, but work. That builds confidence and it gives them skills and a route to grow further. So I wish to pay tribute to the remarkable and, frankly, life-changing work that that provider does.
We also have youth hubs springing up around the country. I am glad that I will be at the opening of my local one on 30 September in Barrow. This crucial work is supported in large part by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the work that my local DWP and jobcentre team are doing is remarkable. They seem to be unrelenting in their efforts to reach out, find more young people and give them access to the skills and training they need to be supported. I should also pay tribute to other similar local organisations in Barrow and Furness: Inspira is also linking skills, jobs and young people together; and the Furness Future Leaders’ Academy and Bright Stars are helping young people to gain skills and confidence, in terms of not only leadership, but how to run a campaign and get engaged in their community, and why and how they can spot issues that matter, run with them and gain skills with them. This mix and matrix is equipping young people incredibly well. I wish I had been through a similar environment when I was growing up. This is a good and important Bill. It will help to close that attainment gap that bedevils constituencies such as mine, and I am very happy to support it for that reason.
It is a great pleasure to rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) and his Bill. I was delighted to have the opportunity to intervene on the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). He is not in his place at the moment, but I really appreciated his idea of sending a copy of every contribution he makes in this place that has a devolved suggestion or idea to the relevant Minister in the devolved Administration. I will be working on that myself in respect of the Welsh Government, and I pay tribute to the Northern Ireland Executive for responding to every contribution from him—this must be a Department in itself.
On careers, life is presenting a lot of change at the moment for anyone entering the labour market. The fact that I have a pen behind my ear attests to the fact that I come from a family of carpenters, and my brother reminds me time and again that when he had his careers advice, they did not listen. When he went to see his careers manager, he knew he wanted to be a carpenter—his dad and granddad had been carpenters, and he was going to be one, and I can confirm to the House that he is one—but would the careers adviser listen? There was a keen interest in getting him to university, but that was never going to happen and I could have told him that for years, as he would allude to. Members can imagine my careers conversation and his, and can imagine Christmas dinner conversations between three carpenters and a politician.
In this place, we have alluded to the fact that technical education and academic education need parity, and they absolutely do. That is why I intervened in the opening remarks about the Baker clause and why I am so passionate about getting outside expertise into our schools. I pay tribute, as other Members have, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) for the excellent charitable contribution that she has made. That kind of impact—that lively, active impact in our schools—will change careers advice for the better.
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, and I hate even to contemplate the sense of disappointment in the Williams family when they learned that he was going to be a politician, not a carpenter, but I am quite interested to know whether he has read the book by my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes), of course showing a diverse range of experience.
My point is really about the fact that when we get people, businessmen and those with different skills into schools, we are also getting them to understand how those schools operate and enhancing their relationships with those schools and what they can do in the future. We are developing a relationship that actually lasts far longer than the pupils who are there at the time, and we should be encouraging that all over the country, especially in the devolved Administrations.
My hon. Friend makes a very valid point, and he has done so far more eloquently than I will in the next few minutes. I am conscious of the next private Member’s Bill—my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Peter Gibson) is sitting next to me—so I will not go on for too long. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) is right, and I can confirm that I have indeed read the books—not book, but “books” plural—by my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes). I can also say that he offered me a lot of career advice in my day, and indeed may be blamed by most of the Williams family for this career of mine, as he would confirm.
I come back to the main thrust of this Bill, why I am here supporting it, and why I will be imploring the devolved Administrations, particularly the Welsh Government in my case, to follow it for careers advice.
I look around the Chamber and across at the Benches where our SNP colleagues normally sit, and do I see any sitting there today? I understand that this is a Friday, but when we are talking about education and with the dire situation of education in Scotland, it is surprising that we do not have any representation from the Scottish national party, which leads the Scottish Government in Scotland.
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I very rarely find SNP Members quiet, and it is a great privilege today to find them quiet. I will say that, of course, the border between Scotland and England is very different. A lot of the education delivered in Montgomeryshire is delivered in England, and people often forget that fact. As a cross-border Member of Parliament, I have a lot of education and health casework because many of the public services delivered for my constituents in Wales come from England. In fact, I went to an FE college in England, despite living in Welshpool, which—and the clue is in the name—is in Wales.
It is often forgotten in this place when we talk about public services in relation to such a Bill that, when it says, “England only”, that applies of course to the geographical area, not to the delivery of public services, which are often to Welsh constituents. While I am on my feet today to implore the application of this Bill in Wales, this will also have a direct impact on my constituents. In my opinion, this is a UK Bill because of the interaction in education across the border. I am sure I will be corrected by Members if I am wrong, but about two thirds of the population of Wales live very close to that border, and they interact on a daily basis with the public services in England. It is nowhere near the same as in Scotland. This is about Wales and England, and long may we continue to hear that, not just in cricket with our dear old English cricket team—I remind hon. Members that it is the England and Wales Cricket Board—but I do not want to deviate too far from the Bill.
I come back to the main thrust of my point about lifelong careers. When people entered the jobs market in the last century, they were looking for a career for life or a job for life. As hon. Members have said, when someone has their first job today, they may, like me, not be in that career for life. Now when someone enters the jobs market, the job they will be doing at the end of their career may not and probably will not exist. I remember a particular hon. Friend saying—I have forgotten his constituency and I will not name him directly because I will get told off, but if I say “fourth industrial revolution”, I think we can all picture the now Whip who would mention that over and over again—and he is right, that the jobs that will be in the market in 20 or 30 years, and the jobs that we need business people to come into schools and act as career champions for, do not currently exist, but we are thinking about them. I am conscious that I have had a good outing and that other Members want to contribute, but I pay huge tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Workington for bringing this Bill to the House. I am happy to admit that, as someone who has put in many, many times for private Member’s Bills, I am incredibly jealous that he got drawn so early on, and that he has brought his Bill to the House so early and championed with such passion something that will help probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the next generation. I think it is terrific.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing forward such an important Bill.
How did someone like me become an MP? How did someone like me, whose mother worked in a jam factory and whose grandfather was a miner for 47 years, become an MP? How did someone who became the first person in her family to stay on at school beyond the age of 16, someone who sounds English but is in fact half Welsh, become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK?
I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and give her an open invitation to experience the joys of Ynys Môn.
How did I become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK? It is because I had excellent careers advice. I was sitting in my kitchen having a cup of tea with a certain Conservative councillor called Gillian Keegan. Gillian shared her journey, from being an apprentice in a car factory to leading multi- national companies, to a chance meeting with a certain Baroness Anne Jenkin, co-chair of Women2Win, in a theatre. She is now the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for apprenticeships and skills and is sitting here on this very Front Bench. I am so proud of her and proud to call her my friend.
I, too, shared my journey. With a degree in microbiology, I went to work for Glaxo Wellcome on the production of interferon. I then became one of the youngest directors at UBS and won awards as a leading pharmaceutical analyst at HSBC, before retraining as a maths teacher. Gillian asked whether I had ever thought about joining the Conservative party. Three years later—yes, just three years—I was privileged to become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK.
At every step of my life’s journey, I have had careers advice. Someone has helped me along the way; someone has shared their life experiences, their time and their address book. When I was just nine years old, a Conservative councillor suggested that I take my 11-plus for grammar school. He sat with me every Monday night to go through 11-plus papers. Thanks to him and some inspirational teachers, I became the first person in my family to stay on at school beyond the age of 16 and to go to university. A couple of years ago, I was giving a speech and I looked down to see, in the front row, that former councillor—this person who had been so inspirational in changing the direction of my life. He had tears streaming down his face. It was a privilege to be able to thank someone who had changed my life so much.
I have seen at first hand how life-changing excellent careers advice and support can be. I taught young adults maths for four years. They all wanted to be entrepreneurs. They loved “Dragons’ Den” and “The Apprentice”. These TV shows inspired them to want to start their own businesses and to do their maths homework. I have worked with Make It Your Business, a network set up by the brilliant Alison Cork. Make It Your Business has inspired thousands of women across the UK and helped with careers advice, and support and encouragement. For many years, I was also a school governor. As part of that role, I spent the day with one of the UK’s super-heads, Sir Kevin Satchwell, and his team at the Thomas Telford academy. One of the things that struck me was the time and effort that Sir Kevin and his team put into their careers support and work experience.
I have also had the privilege of supporting the excellent charity IntoUniversity since its inception, working with the likes of Dr Rachel Carr and Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard. One of the key things that IntoUniversity does is mentoring and giving young people careers advice. It gives them the skills to fly. There are many fantastic charities and organisations that give excellent careers advice and mentoring, but how much better would it be for every child, no matter where they live, no matter their background, to have careers advice for the entirety of their time in secondary school?
As a former maths teacher and mentor, I am delighted to see this Bill reach its Second Reading. The prospect of extending the duty to provide independent careers advice to around 2,700 academy secondary schools will help to ensure parity of opportunity. Delivering that advice across all schools from year 7 will benefit an additional 650,000 pupils each year. Careers guidance in schools is critical to securing a healthy future for our children as well as our economy. Through guidance and support, we can ensure that our young people enter jobs in which both they and the UK can flourish.
My constituency of Ynys Môn has one of the lowest GVAs—gross value added—in the UK. Why? We have good schools, good careers advice and some excellent teachers, but every year we see bright, keen, educated young people leave in droves in search of employment because of the limited quality career opportunities on Anglesey. As a result, we are left with a lower than average percentage of the population with qualifications of NVQ 4 and above, and a higher percentage with no qualifications whatsoever. Those that remain struggle to find good employment. Last year, 6% of economically active males aged 16 to 24 on Anglesey were unemployed, compared with the national average of just below 5%. Those that were in work took home an average weekly pay 20% lower than the UK average.
It can be incredibly challenging to provide children and young people with an insight into exciting potential career opportunities when there are relatively few local examples to work with. One of the saddest things posted on my Facebook page—let us be honest, there have been quite a few—was: “Virginia is ambitious. She will leave the island.” Yes, I am ambitious—for the island. I want to give young people ambition. I want to give young people on the island hope. That is why I am working hard to bring investment to Anglesey. I want to secure the future of the island by offering these young people the opportunities that they so desperately need.
At the moment, however, we risk being stuck in a vicious circle. Our young people see no prospects on Anglesey and then they leave, leaving a shortfall in the skilled working population when companies try to set up locally. It is critical to the economic future of my constituency that our school careers education is not just good but forward-looking and integrated with local businesses, and that it starts when children reach secondary school.
Anglesey is known as the energy island. It is looking forward to how we can contribute to the Government’s net zero targets through renewable energy. The jobs that will come online will be varied, but there will be a strong technical aspect to many of them. That means that we need to start positioning our schools so that they can support children into these great opportunities. Careers guidance and education must be tailored to give them the skills that they will need.
For that very reason, one of my first conversations with companies interested in coming to Anglesey concerns how they intend to engage with our schools and support local people into employment. I want organisations on Anglesey that will enhance our local offering, employ and involve local people, use local third-party providers and, ultimately, help to drive our local economy and keep our local culture and our local language alive. Their plans for schools outreach are particularly important, because we need to drive up aspirations and show our young people that there is a prosperous future for them on Anglesey.
Businesses already on Anglesey, such as Orthios in Holyhead, M-SParc and RAF Valley, already engage with local schools, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and maths arena. Others that hope to establish operations on the island should Anglesey gain freeport status, such as Tratos, intend to open skills academies and engage with local education providers.
One example of how we can drive careers support on Anglesey comes from the recent experience of the National Nuclear Laboratory, which has recently opened a new office at M-SParc in Gaerwen. The NNL’s approach to engagement has been to undertake specific and targeted STEM outreach programmes in local communities to excite and encourage local students to think about a career in science. Its engagement plan links with career pathways, whether vocational or academic, and it is working to develop a strong pipeline of talent for the nuclear sector.
I fully support this Bill and the changes it proposes, and I look forward to seeing independent careers advice being offered in all secondary provision from year 7. I urge the Welsh Government to adopt a similar approach and to work to improve careers advice in secondary schools across Wales so that all our young people, who are our future, can receive high-quality careers education.
It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie), who has the second most beautiful constituency in the country—of course, St Austell and Newquay is the best.
I left full-time education at the age of 16 and went straight to work for Barclays bank. However, I recently had a conversation with one of my former teachers, who remarked that many of my teachers thought I left school long before. I distinctly remember that, in my early years, the only thing I wanted to be in life was a British Airways pilot. I was fixed on this but, unfortunately for me, just before I started my O-levels—I am old enough to have done O-levels—British Airways closed its airline training school, which threw me into complete confusion about what I would do. I ended up doing my O-levels and, almost by accident, going to work for Barclays bank. I look back now and think, “If only there had been better advice to help me think about my career.”
I have since meandered through various opportunities that life has put my way and somehow ended up in this House, but that was never the plan. There was never a sense that this is where I wanted to go. I very much welcome this excellent Bill, and I am pleased that the Government are supporting it to make sure that good careers advice is available to all our students throughout their secondary education. That is absolutely right.
My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) made the important point that we have to be very clear that careers advice is not about closing down the options for young people too early. Very few of us end up doing what we thought we were going to do when we were at school. It is about giving our schoolchildren a sense of aspiration, a sense of all the opportunities that our incredible country provides for our young people, and giving them the confidence and the attitude that they can go and make the most of it, wherever life may take them. It has to be about inspiring them and getting them to lift their aspirations.
I particularly say that because I represent a Cornish constituency, where we struggle with a lack of aspiration among our young people. Very often their view of the horizon is too low, and one of the best things we can do, particularly in secondary schools, is raise the horizon for our young people. Good-quality careers advice can definitely do that, so this is an excellent Bill.
I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend, because he is making an important point. In the south-west, we know far too well how many people are looking over the horizon and are looking to move away to find their future career. They are not aware of the opportunities within their midst. This Bill presumably allows us the opportunity to find what is both immediately available in such areas but also what can be created or invented.
My hon. Friend makes a very good point. Since I was first elected to this House, I have focused on the need to create better opportunities for young people in the south-west and, in my case, particularly Cornwall. Too many of my peers had no option but to leave Cornwall and the south-west to achieve their ambitions in life. I count myself incredibly lucky that I was able to stay in Cornwall and make a reasonable life for myself, but that opportunity has not been available to many. That is one reason why I have spent so much time in this place championing such things as the spaceport, renewable energy, lithium extraction and all the things that are creating incredible opportunities in Cornwall for the future, so that young people growing up today can think, “I can have a good career in Cornwall. I don’t have to leave the place I love and call home to achieve that because we are creating opportunities.”
Alongside the great career advice that we need to provide, we have to make sure, particularly in some of the most disadvantaged parts of our country, that we create local opportunities for young people who want to stay in their home town and reach their potential in life. That is why the Government’s levelling-up agenda is so important to people like me. We have to create those opportunities.
One of the things that I did was run a business for several years that employed a lot of school leavers. One of my frustrations was that when school leavers came to me, yes, they had academic qualifications but they did not have the soft skills that employers need for them to become good members of the workforce quickly. Sadly, even today when I talk to employers, they tell me a similar story. That is why I really welcome such things as T-levels, which are going to provide an excellent connection between education and the workplace to give our young people the right sort of skills, so that they enter the workplace not just with the academic qualifications and skills that they need, but the attitude that they need to get into the workplace and so they know how to relate and be part of a team. People can only really learn those sorts of things by experiencing them. T-levels will provide that and I absolutely welcome them.
Alongside that, we are moving away from this strange idea that 50% of our students need to go to university. I think that has actually been damaging for far too long. Introducing T-levels and vocational and other qualifications is very important. Technical qualifications are so important and having a really strong connection to the workplace is valuable, and I am delighted with the Government’s efforts and the direction in which we are going in that regard.
I represent the constituency that is the most reliant on tourism and hospitality in the country and I am really passionate about changing the view that working in tourism and hospitality is just a dead-end or short-term job. It is one of the best career opportunities for a young person to get on quickly. It is incredible and provides great social mobility. Yes, people enter it by working in a bar but they can progress very quickly to management or HR, or some other aspect of management. We have to change the perception. I plead with schools, in the career advice that they provide, to get away from the negative view of tourism and hospitality as just a dead-end job. It is an incredible opportunity for the right sort of young person. They can go into that sector and have a really successful career and progress quickly. In any career advice that is going to be provided as a result of this excellent Bill, we need to change the perception of tourism and hospitality to make sure that we are providing good advice in that sector.
In conclusion, I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) has introduced the Bill.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to say that I have become a grandfather, and baby George Double is doing very well. I am three and a half weeks into being a grandfather and I am loving my new career in life. It is so important that we lay the foundations now not just for the current generation, but for generations to come. The point has been so well made that the jobs of the future will be different. People will change their jobs probably many times during their careers, and it is very important that we not only give our young people the right skills to make the most of that, but create the opportunities and then give them the advice to inspire them to make the most of whatever opportunities life provides them with. I am sure that this excellent Bill will be just one bit of the jigsaw that helps us to achieve that in future.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on introducing this important Bill. Giving every child the best start in life is a guiding principle of this Government’s approach to education in England. Conservatives believe that no matter their background, the wealth of their parents, their race, gender or sexual orientation, every child deserves a fantastic education and the opportunity to build the foundations they need to thrive in the world of work, and become upstanding citizens in their communities.
When I speak of fantastic education, I do not just mean rigorous exploration in science labs, the unlocking of imagination in English classes, the stimulation of solving maths equations, or the exhilaration that comes from competing in sports lessons. Those are crucial foundations that all children should enjoy and be exposed to, but a fantastic education must offer more, and release the ambitions and talents of young people, so that they can expand their horizons, widen their future opportunities, and gain deeper skills. That second element of the school environment is sometimes neglected and forgotten, but it is crucial if a child is to succeed in work and take full advantage of the opportunities available to them, whether that is moving to university, embarking on an apprenticeship, starting a business, or even travelling, volunteering and much more. Part of that aspect of school life is careers advice and support, and I wish to share one example of that local to my constituency.
Not so long ago, a group of pupils in my constituency—my beautiful constituency of Hastings and Rye—were taken to the City of London through the Hastings opportunity area Broadening Horizons programme, organised by the charity A Capital Experience. Hastings opportunity area has given invaluable funding over the past five years, which I would like to be extended further—hint, hint—as it has been so beneficial to young people in my constituency.
Hastings opportunity area benefits from amazing board members, including Helen Kay, who successfully set up the new flagship free school in Hastings, and Lorraine Clarke, the regional Ark Academy director. She has shown me and proved that although funding is essential, the most important thing is to have good leadership, good structure and professional support and development for teachers to become outstanding. That is key to excellent outstanding schools. Carole Dixon is chief executive of the Education Futures Trust, and the board is chaired by Richard Meddings, with all his huge success in financial institutions at national and international level. They all give our children in Hastings and Rye the chance to broaden their horizons.
The children were taken to the offices of a top company in Canary Wharf, and the purpose of the visit was to open their eyes to jobs and careers that are out there and could be available to them. The group took a coach up the A21 to the City, and by lunchtime the children were looking up in awe at the mighty skyscrapers that were hurtling their way into the sky. Those kids had never been to the capital before, and never witnessed such tall, imposing buildings. They had certainly never dreamed of working in such a place.
The children were taken to one of the huge buildings, which housed the company. As they arrived, they noticed the security guards, the receptionists, the cleaners, and others. It was not long before they were seated in a large room—a place where decisions of great importance and impact are made on a daily basis. That room will have had a monumental impact on those kids. As they sat listening they were asked a simple question: “How many of you could see yourselves working here?” They looked surprised. Some piped up that perhaps they could see themselves working in reception or as a security guard. They were told that they could work hard, and perhaps one day they could be something more than cleaners or receptionists. There is nothing wrong with saying, “You could be directors, CEOs or perhaps even the chairman of an international bank.” They were amazed. Never before had anyone told them to reach for the top, to dream big and realise their deepest ambitions, and that if they worked hard at school, nurtured their talents, they too could be a banker or any other thing they wanted, making big decisions.
I recount that story because it goes to the heart of why I support the Bill. It is no good having an education system that teaches children solely to learn their timetables, do their spelling and memorise equations. We need a system in place that is ambitious for our young people, that offers them hope, and that supports and guides them. Our children in Hastings and Rye are capable of doing what they set their mind to, regardless of their background or where they come from. Sometimes life deals a bad hand, but with the right support, encouragement and aspiration, including from teaching staff, our children can make that bad hand work for them and turn it into a good one.
The speaker in that story was ambitious for those children and gave them encouragement and inspiration to dream bigger and reach further. The teacher offered them support with their education, but the system let them down because they had no careers support, which is vital and crucial. The Bill will ensure that such advice is offered independently to all pupils from year 7 onwards, no matter what sort of state school they are in, including academies. I completely support that.
The Bill builds on the Government’s excellent work in this area, such as the “Skills for jobs” White Paper published in January, which lays out the strategy for post-16 education, training and careers provision. It also addresses the Government’s renewed strategic approach to careers education, including continued public investment in the expansion of infrastructure. Commitments include the roll-out of careers hubs and investment in the professional development of careers leaders to all schools and colleges across England. The White Paper, coupled with the Bill, could transform the way in which we provide careers advice and guidance to young people across England.
I will mention one final aspect that is linked—the role of businesses and employers in the provision of careers advice to young people. When independent careers support is given, it is vital that colleges and schools engage with local businesses and business leaders to ensure that students can hear directly from employers about the skills and attributes they seek and the local opportunities for young people in the world of work.
In Hastings, I recently visited a fantastic company, Focus SB, that is doing great work with the local college to help to make sure that local students are getting the training and education that they need to go into high skill, high wage jobs locally. Gary Stevens, managing director, recently said:
“As someone who came through the ranks as an apprentice, I am keen to provide opportunities for young people to join us on our exciting journey and to grow with the company, which is why I have agreed to become an Enterprise Adviser in East Sussex. I am also keen to encourage applicants from all corners of the community with all levels of ability and mobility to contribute to our growth and development as well as theirs. At Focus SB we have employed three apprentices over the past three years, have widened our own in-house graduate scheme and we have built links with local schools, colleges and universities. I personally have become an Enterprise Adviser and sacrifice some of my time to build relationships with local educators but we all need to do more if we want this valuable asset to remain.”
Those are strong words from Mr Stevens. The drive and dedication of business leaders like him give me hope that future collaboration between our schools, colleges and businesses will equip young people with the skills and careers advice that they need to achieve their dreams and ambitions.
In conclusion, the Bill will go a long way to supporting students with the advice and guidance they need to make reasoned and timely decisions to help them into the world of work. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington again for bringing forward his private Member’s Bill for Second Reading. He has my full support.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson), first on coming top in the private Member’s Bill ballot and secondly on choosing this particular Bill. I do not think that any proposal would have been more worthy of consideration by the House.
In Dudley South we have many very good academy schools, just as we have many very good local authority maintained schools. Many of the academy schools use the greater freedoms they have to establish a strong ethos and character, but I struggle to fathom what it is in the governance and funding mechanisms of academy schools, excellent as they are, that means that the pupils who attend them are somehow less in need of careers guidance than those who attend maintained schools. The truth is that all young people need guidance on their future careers, and, as many Members have said today, that need continues throughout their working lives.
I think that, as people in a line of work in which jobs are not always entirely secure, many of us can identify with the idea that people’s career options can change throughout their working lives. Indeed, I think that the Boundary Commission is prompting me to look towards some careers advice in the not too distant future. The Whips Office are frequently generous with their careers advice, often in very direct and unambiguous terms, although I fear that not all of it may be parliamentary.
However, I think that the really important aspect of the Bill is not so much the requirement to have careers advice as the independent nature of that advice, and its guaranteed standard. It needs to have value—greater value, I think, than some of the careers advice that was available when I was at school 30 years ago. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes) suggested that the position was similar when he was at school. That advice was probably not as helpful, because it was often provided in-house by teachers who were extremely good at their subjects, but whose understanding of the jobs market and the economy, which had developed since they were at teacher training college, was quite restricted. Their careers advice was generally focused on graduate-focused roles rather than other career paths.
We need an independent, dedicated and extremely skilled careers service to be available to all young people. What is needed is an up-to-date understanding of the jobs market. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) observed, there are so many jobs of the future that do not even exist yet, so those who are advising young people on forward pathways need to understand the jobs market both as it is today and as it is likely to develop in the near future. They also need to understand the full breadth of the economy and the jobs market, and how that has progressed. For people of my parents’ generation, the whole point of a good education was working hard at school so that you did not end up in the factory, whereas the reality now is that many engineering roles, many technical and vocational careers, have rather better prospects than many of the jobs that would typically be taken by graduates.
We need to ensure that the careers service appreciates the value of sectors that may not have been given the status they deserved but have always been important. My hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) mentioned the hospitality sector as an example, but there are many, many others, including the technical skills sector and the care sector. We have a wide range of opportunities in our modern economy.
Young people today find themselves in an increasingly complex world. As they leave school, they will be entering an ever-changing jobs market. It has never been more important to have good, high-quality, reliable careers advice, and that applies regardless of the type of school that a child is attending, and I am glad that this Bill will help to guarantee that.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing this Bill forward. It is utterly vital that all secondary schools and academies have an expectation of being able to offer good quality, independent careers advice from year 7 all the way through to year 13. Having worked in education for 22 years, I know that it is not just about jobs, but about careers. We need to make sure that our young people, and our slightly older people, understand the opportunities that are out there. When we talk about careers, though, one thing we do not talk about is transferable skills. I met a young man last Friday who had a level 3 qualification in mechanical engineering, and he really did not understand how valuable his qualification was in the marketplace and how sought after he was. He was extremely excited and pleased to hear that that was what he had in his back pocket. We must make sure that all of our young people, especially those from deprived backgrounds, have such qualifications.
What I would like to say to all those independent career advisers is that the quality and the relevance of what they are offering is absolutely vital. Young people have no idea what old fogies like us, who have been in the work market for a very long time, are talking about. Members who are old enough to remember Snoopy might recall the teacher who went, “Bwa-bwa-bwaa-bwa”. That is how young people hear old fogies like us. I am afraid that anybody over the age of 23 is quite often not listened to.
What I am doing in the constituency of Great Grimsby is making sure that we have not only people with long-standing and impressive careers, but people who are just starting off on their journeys. My plea to careers advisers, schools and academies is to remember that for people to do well in school and to want to do well in school, they need to understand not only the relevance of what they are doing, but that careers and jobs are about having fun in life. What a miserable existence it would be for a person to have to go to work day after day and not enjoy the people with whom they work or the job that they are doing. People also need to understand that a career is about going to different places. Sometimes we do a job because we know that it will get us somewhere else, so an understanding of the journey that people take is important.
I have a core request to those involved in careers. We cannot expect our teachers to do it, as they are specialists in education, not specialists in careers. Employers, councils and careers advisers all need to work together with our local businesses to make people excited about what is happening in their areas. What levelling up is doing at the moment in places such as Great Grimsby is bringing more inward investment into the constituency than has ever been seen before. There are exciting jobs and careers available. We get to know that because we are in privileged positions, but we need to make sure that we say to our colleagues locally and to our schools and academies that there are some really exciting things coming along. There will also be jobs in new technology that have not been invented yet.
I wholeheartedly support this Bill. We need careers guidance, with several touch points from year 7 onwards, and we need it to be fun and relevant, because when it is fun people will really understand what they enjoy and what their future can look like.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on his success in the private Member’s Bill ballot. Obviously he is a very lucky man—he knows that in many ways. I am delighted that he was first in the ballot, and I am really delighted that he chose careers guidance in schools as his priority. As we can see, it is also a priority for many Members in the Chamber, and we are all grateful that he chose it, as many young people across the country will be for many years to come.
I know that, like me and now many Conservative MPs, my hon. Friend is a former apprentice who has enjoyed the benefits of technical education and is keen to make sure that all young people get to learn about this brilliant route into the workplace. What a fantastic discussion, debate, and sharing of ideas and experience it has been. It is wonderful to hear of all the great work going on in our constituencies and how many hon. Members are involved in their schools, careers hubs and businesses, trying every day to bring them all together. It is clear that everybody involved in this debate recognises the importance of helping young people to achieve their full potential.
It was interesting to hear from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) about the focus on engineering and manufacturing, and what happens when there is a disconnect between what young children can learn in their local environment and the needs of businesses. Indeed, that is a big focus of this Government: to try to bring those things together and to make sure we talk about things such as T-levels, which many hon. Members talked about. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson) said that, I think, seven T-levels are coming to his area via Hopwood Hall College, while my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) and others talked about the importance of T-levels and what that minimum of nine weeks’ work experience brings.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) is a real inspirational role model to us all, through If Chloe Can and the support that she has given schools through her charity for a decade. As the previous Member for Wirral West, she was also part of my careers journey, because I shadowed her for many a week.
A number of Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie) and for Barrow and Furness (Simon Fell), mentioned the importance of extending careers opportunities to younger children—the year 7s—which is also very important. My hon. Friends the Members for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams) and for Ynys Môn—maybe it is something in the water—mentioned the random nature of their careers and their journeys, and the people who helped them along their way. I think it is fair to say that all of us remember the people who help us on our way. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn is still grateful that I helped her on her way into this place, because it can be a tough career at times, although I am sure the people of Ynys Môn are very grateful for her sacrifice.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) talked about the importance of lowering the barriers for young people, which is what those interventions can achieve. “You can do it. Reach for the top. Don’t put those barriers in your way”—somebody needs to tell them that and give them permission to dream. That often happens in one of those interventions, and it is vital.
My hon. Friends the Members for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici) focused on the investment in their areas, all the things happening there, the skills and opportunities that that will bring, and how important it is to align them and bring them all together.
High-quality careers advice is absolutely vital to help young people to prepare for their future. This Bill will play a key part in levelling up opportunity, ensuring that high-quality careers advice is available for all. Disadvantaged young people will gain most, as they face the greatest barriers. They have fewer role models and networks—they probably think networks are something to do with their PCs. This Bill will make a difference, with more opportunities for pupils to meet more employers from an earlier age and to be inspired about the world of work, including about jobs in emerging sectors, such as green jobs.
I thank all hon. Members for their contributions to this debate, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Workington, who has given us all the opportunity to come here today, to talk about this issue and to make a difference. I very much look forward to visiting the outstanding Lakes College and the Cumbria Careers Hub, ideally with the Careers and Enterprise Company, in the very near future, because I know that he has been inspired by a lot of the work being done there. We want to go further and faster, and ensure that every young child across the country has the best opportunity to get the best careers advice to help them on their journey in life.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).