UNISON calls for careers service cuts to be reversed
In a submission to the Department for Education’s consultation on careers guidance for young people, UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is calling for cuts to this vital service to be reversed.
Thousands of jobs have been cut from the careers service, with many more still facing the axe. Tens of thousands of young people now have no access to face-to-face careers guidance, just when the bleak jobs market means they need it most.
The government claims that a new all age National Careers Service (NCS) and in-school provision will replace the existing service, but the union is warning that it will not happen unless the government steps in to fund the service properly.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“This government is sacrificing young people’s futures by withdrawing decent careers guidance. Faced with a bleak jobs market, young people need a decent careers service now more than ever. But in many towns and cities across the country they will now find closed doors where their careers office used to be.
“The government cannot just tell schools that they have to do more – young people deserve better. We are urging the government to step up, provide sufficient resources, and help restore the high quality careers services that young people need.”
The union is also warning the government that a damaging postcode lottery is developing. In Birmingham, a city within the top 20 youth unemployment hotspots, the budget for careers services has fallen from £11m to £3.8m since 2010. More than two-thirds of the staff have lost their jobs and only one advice centre remains open.
In six London boroughs - Kingston, Merton, Sutton, Richmond, Croydon and Bromley - all the Connexions offices have been closed. In Hull the staffing levels of careers advisers has been reduced from 81 to 18.
UNISON supports the proposals to extend the new statutory duty on schools, sixth form colleges and further education institutions to provide careers advice, so that pupils all the way from 12 to 18 benefit from it. However, the union has made it clear that the extension of the statutory duty will fail, unless the Government re-considers its approach to the actual provision of careers services.
Notes to Editors
1. The Education Act 2011 places a new statutory duty on schools to secure access to independent careers guidance for all pupils in years 9 to 11 from September 2012. This should include information on all the options available in 16-18 education and training, including apprenticeships, and should be impartial and independent, and this is defined as ‘provided by persons other than those employed at the school’. In-house provision must be complemented by external support, which includes face-to-face guidance but only for those whom schools alone decide need it.
2. Local Authorities, due to financial pressures, made massive cuts in careers services provision in both 2010/11 and 2011/12. Research in 2011 has shown that by July 2011 about 4,000 staff had been made redundant already and a further 4,000 were at risk over the next year. Advice centres and services have closed. This happened before the new careers service had been designed and before the implementation of the Education Act that transferred commissioning responsibility from Local authorities to schools from September 2012. In many cases this could contravene the current statutory minimum service levels expected.
3. Tens of thousands of young people effectively have no access to ‘face to face’ career guidance services and in some Local Authorities, no service is being provided at all. Current 14-19 pupils will without doubt, be the least informed about their future career options in a generation, at a time when the Government has radically changed the education and training environment by; abolishing the Education Maintenance Allowance and the Future Jobs Fund, raising HE tuition fees, reducing the number of HE / FE places An important message for parents of children currently in Year 10 or Year 11:for the year 2011/12 career guidance services will be a geographical lottery. In some areas young people leaving compulsory education will have no access to independent, expert career guidance at all.
UNISON Response to DfE Consultation <http://www.unison.org.uk/file/A14601.doc>