Government declares face-to-face careers advice outmoded

The government has revealed that it considers face-to-face careers advice for young people as “outmoded” – despite widespread condemnation of the current situation in schools.

In the House of Lords yesterday, the government was asked what progress had been made in implementing the recommendations of last September’s Ofsted report, Going in the Right Direction? Careers Guidance in Schools from September 2012.

The Ofsted report stated that, in more than three-quarters of the schools visited, “the new arrangements for careers guidance were not working well,” and asked what “specific guidance” the government had given to schools on what constituted a “comprehensive careers guidance strategy”.

Parliamentary under-secretary of state for schools, Lord Nash, said that the government had taken account of the report by strengthening statutory guidance on matters such as contact with the workplace and in “improving information on apprenticeships and vocational options”.

Baroness Hughes of Stretford raised a point made by UNISON in a pre-debate briefing, that Ofsted, the education committee, the British Chambers of Commerce and the CBI had all criticised the government for its “hands-off approach” to careers guidance.

She also alluded to UNISON’s concerns about the government’s push toward a more localised careers service when she asked the minister whether it would act to “eradicate the postcode lottery in careers guidance” and ensure that there was “face-to-face advice for all young people”.

Lord Nash said that the government did not have the money to do this and that it was an “outmoded” idea to think face-to-face guidance was necessary.

UNISON head of education and children’s services Jon Richards says the response highlights how out of touch the government is.

Describing its approach as a “false economy,” he added that “independent, face-to-face 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 receiving under the current arrangements.”

And Mr Richards continued: “The current gap in consistent, coherent and quality impartial careers advice fails both young people and the economy. UNISON believes strongly that all young people should have face-to-face information, advice and guidance – especially those who have the least parental/carer support.

“Effective advice and guidance involves knowledge of the combination of local and national resources that the young person may need in the future, and UNISON strongly believe that the only reliable, effective and accurate way to do this is by face-to-face guidance.”