Poor school careers advice making skills gaps worse, say MPs

 

Inadequate careers guidance in many English schools is exacerbating skills shortages and negatively impacting the country’s productivity, MPs have said.

A report published by the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy (ESE) called on the Government to incentivise schools to improve their careers advice, and recommended that Ofsted ratings should be downgraded for schools in which provision is sub-standard.

The committee also said the Government must ‘untangle the unruly and complex web’ of organisations, service providers and websites currently overseeing and offering careers advice and put a single Minister in charge of its provision.

The report found too many young people are leaving education without having the chance to fully consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the jobs market.

It also suggested a number of policy changes, initiatives and new bodies introduced in recent years have failed to make serious improvements and in some cases have even been counter-productive.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Committee and co-chair of the ESE Sub-Committee, said: “At a time when it is vital we equip young people with the right skills for their working lives, it’s concerning that so many are being failed by the guidance they receive.

“Careers advice should be a core part of a young person’s schooling but at the moment it is little more than a poorly thought out add-on. Schools should be incentivised to treat careers education, advice, information and guidance as a priority.

“The committee recommends Ofsted plays a bigger role in ensuring careers guidance is up to scratch by downgrading those who do not deliver high quality provision. A school should not be graded as ‘good’ if its careers provision is inadequate.”

Iain Wright, chair of the Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee and co-chair of the ESE Sub-Committee, added: “The world of business and work is changing rapidly. There is huge choice in the career paths young people could embark upon and rapid change also means that there will be opportunities for jobs and professions in new and emerging industries.

“In this context, young people and their parents need the best possible and clear guidance to inform their choices and decisions. Yet Initiative after initiative has rained down from Government in recent years with regards to careers guidance, creating a confusing and costly mess when what we really need is a clear picture.

“With the skills gap widening, it is essential that young people are well-informed about the experiences, qualifications and training they need to pursue their chosen careers and that the guidance they are given is grounded in accurate information about the jobs market.”

The report highlighted a number of areas the Government should focus on in a forthcoming review of its careers strategy:

  • Provide incentives for schools to improve their careers provision and mechanisms for holding to account those that fail to do so
  • Take steps to untangle the complex web of national organisations and to create efficiencies by bringing funding streams into line
  • Bring greater coherence to the unruly market of organisations and websites offering careers information, advice and guidance services
  • Ensure advice and guidance is grounded in accurate information about the labour market
  • Give young people the opportunity to understand better the world of work, through encounters with employers and meaningful work experience opportunities
Tuesday, 5 July 2016

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