5 Schools and the National Careers
Current provision of services
to young people
64. The National Careers Service (NCS) was launched
in April 2012. The NCS website provides information for all ages,
but its provision of advice and guidance is not universal, with
only adults having access to face-to-face support through the
service. The DfE justifies this position on the basis that young
people will have such support through their school.
65. The lack of face-to-face support for young
people through the NCS was much criticised during our inquiry.
One witness referred to it as a "wasted national resource".
Questions were also raised about the restrictions on the provision
by the NCS of any service to schools other than the website and
telephone helpline for individual pupils.
Its providers are not even permitted to market themselves to schools
as the NCS, although
as the Minister explained, schools are free to commission the
NCS contractors independently.
66. Perhaps as a result of this, the NCS lacks
a strong profile among young people. Judith Denyer, from Prospects,
told us that, in her view, young people do not see the NCS as
a service for them. She said "I have not had one request
from a young person asking how to get on to the National Careers
] it is just not on people's radar. It is deemed
as a service for adults and not young people".
The very limited funding for marketing the service undoubtedly
also contributes to the lack of awareness of the NCS among young
people. Steve Stewart, Chairman of Careers England, explained:
The reality is that we are trying everything we possibly
can in terms of free media to try to get the message across [
it is one of the best-kept secrets. The service has huge potential;
it is doing great things. However, unless you are in the trade
or you come across it, you would not know about it.
67. The importance of the part played by local
labour market information within good quality advice and guidance
was impressed upon us during our inquiry. While the NCS has the
local framework to build up accurate labour-market information,
there are no mechanisms for this information to be passed onto
England describes the denial of full access to NCS's services
by young people as "a national policy failure".
Opportunities for the better
use of NCS resources
68. The possibility of expanding the role of
the NCS was welcomed by many witnesses. As Robert Campbell, Principal
of Impington College, told us, "if there were a national
service that enabled you to provide access and would regulate,
mediate and provide that access to independent and impartial information,
I would welcome that".
There are various ways in which this could be done. Professor
Watts outlined two models in particular: first, a model where
the NCS becomes involved in service deliverythat is delivering
independent and impartial face-to-face guidance in schools; and,
second, a model where the NCS is involved in capacity-building.
69. There was support from other witnesses for
both proposals. Some, such as Mary Vine-Morris of London Councils,
considered that expanding the NCS's remit to include service delivery
(such as providing independent and impartial face-to-face careers
guidance to young people in schools)would be a good solution to
the problem of providing universal independent and impartial guidance.
Ms Morris considered that since the infrastructure was already
in place for adults, it would simply take the resources to extend
70. Dr Deirdre Hughes, Chair of the National
Careers Council, expressed interest in Professor Watts' second
model, arguing that the NCS has "huge potential in terms
of helping build capacity in schools and local communities around
having stronger labour-market intelligence".
Careers England outlined in more detail what a capacity-building
role for NCS would involve, including consultancy support to schools;
an independent assessment of quality of guidance; and, brokerage
between employers and local schools.
We note that Professor Watts linked the idea of the NCS having
a role in capacity-building for schools to the recommendation
of school plans for careers guidance: he thought that the NCS's
role could be "about supporting the school in developing
its own plans and resources and providing that crucial link with
the labour market".
71. It seems sensible to us that the NCS's undoubted
expertise should be used for the benefit of young people in schools.
Of the two models suggested to usservice delivery or capacity-building
and brokerageboth would require additional funding from
the Government. The first option would meet the need for independent
and impartial advice. It would also, to a certain extent, represent
a move back to the Careers Service model that existed prior to
Connexions and would be more expensive. The second option would
harness both the NCS's expertise in careers guidance and its understanding
of local employment and learning opportunities. It would involve
the NCS producing a regular information stream on the labour and
learning market, brokering employer/education activities and supporting
schools in the development of their own careers programmes. Such
a capacity-building and brokerage model would be flexible; it
could be shaped to individual schools' needs and requirements;
and it would be less costly than the first model.
72. We recommended in our Fourth
Report of session 2010-12, Participation by 16-19 year olds
in education and training, that an "all age careers service
should be funded by the Department for Education for face to face
career guidance for young people."
Our view on this has not changed. However, given the statutory
duty has only recently been passed to schools, we believe that
the best way of delivering the Government's vision and providing
the service that young people need is through the capacity-building
and brokerage model.
73. We have not carried out our own research
into the cost of extending the remit of the NCS. Careers England
estimated that creating a capacity-building and brokerage role
would be around £120million per annum.
While this is clearly a significant sum, we believe that it should
be weighed against the likely cost for the nation of young people
making the wrong choices as a result of a deficiency in the careers
guidance service. The estimates should, of course, be checked
74. We recommend that the
remit of the National Careers Service is expanded to enable it
to perform a capacity-building and brokerage role for schools.
As part of its capacity-building role, the National Careers Service
should work with individual schools in designing their annual
careers plan of provision for careers guidance as well as provide
schools with local labour market information. Clearly, this would
have funding implications and so we further recommend that the
Department of Education instructs the Skills Funding Agency to
cost the options of the National Careers Service remit being expanded
in this way.
87 Ev 80 Back
Ev 88 Back
Ev w2, Ev w146, Ev w168 Back
Q 207 Back
Q 269 Back
Q 63-64 Back
Q 189 Back
Q 207 Back
Ev 88 Back
Q 152 Back
Q207 (Prof Watts) Back
Q 65 Back
Q 206 Back
Ev 104 Back
Q 207 Back
Fourth Report from the Education Committee, Session 2010-12, Participation
by 16-19 year olds in education and training, HC 850-I, para
Ev 104 Back