Access to good quality independent and impartial
careers guidance is essential for all young people, particularly
given factors such as the raising of the participation age, the
expanding range of educational choices available and high levels
of youth unemployment.
The Education Act 2011 introduced a statutory duty
on schools in England to secure access to independent, impartial
careers guidance for their pupils in years 9-11. The duty came
into force in September 2012 and we decided to hold an inquiry
to coincide with this, to see how schools were responding to their
The Government's decision to transfer responsibility
for careers guidance to schools is regrettable. We have concerns
about the consistency, quality, independence and impartiality
of careers guidance now being offered to young people. We heard
evidence that there is already a worrying deterioration in the
overall level of provision for young people. Urgent steps need
to be taken by the Government to ensure that young people's needs
We recognise that there must be room for innovation
and variation, but we believe that all young people must have
access to good quality advice and guidance. We believe that the
Government could do more to promote consistency in the offer to
young people through central guidance and we recommend that the
Government's statutory guidance and practical guide should be
combined into a single publication to assist a consistent approach
We believe that vulnerable young people in particular
need careers guidance support and that at present there is too
much variation in which groups of young people receive the service.
We recommend that the Government promotes the activities of the
best performing local authorities so that best practice in identifying
and delivering services to targeted young people is shared.
We welcome the Government's decision to extend the
duty to young people in year 8 and to 16 to 18 year-olds in school
or college, which was announced during the course of our inquiry.
The fact that some young people are now required to make decisions
about their future in Year 8for entrance to UTCs and Studio
Schools, for example means that it is necessary for advice
and guidance to be offered earlier.
The quality, independence and impartiality of careers
guidance offered to young people was a central concern. To help
ensure quality, we recommend that schools are required to work
towards the Quality in Careers Standard, and to procure guidance
services only from qualified providers and individuals.
We believe that face-to-face guidance is an integral
part of good quality careers guidance and we recommend that a
minimum of one personal careers interview with an independent
adviser should be available for every young person.
There must be accountability measures to ensure that
schools provide a good quality careers guidance service for their
pupils. While we welcome Ofsted's thematic review, we are not
convinced that this offers sufficient incentive for schools to
prioritise the provision of careers guidance. Furthermore, we
do not think that either destination measuresas they currently
standor Ofsted inspections are the answer. We recommend
that all schools are required to publish an annual careers plan,
which would provide transparency about what could be expected
in terms of careers work and would set out the resources allocated
to these activities.
We recommend that the National Careers Service's
remit be expanded to include a capacity-building and brokerage
role for schools. This role would include assisting schools in
designing their annual careers plan, the dissemination of local
labour market information and the promotion of quality standards.
Independent careers advice and guidance has never
been as important for young people as it is today. Too many schools
lack the skills, incentives or capacity to fulfil the duty put
upon them without a number of changes being made. Young people
deserve better than the service they are likely to receive under
the current arrangements. Schools cannot simply be left to get
on with it.