Careers advice failing due to lack of funding and support, warns union boss

Careers advice and education is in desperate need of more funding and needs better support from employers, warns the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, told the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, this week that schools’ careers advice and education has been hit by a lack of funding following the Coalition Government’s abolition of the Connexions service in 2010.
Bousted also said there were too few apprenticeships and too many of those that exist are poor quality, and employers need to provide more work experience.
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“In the gap left after the Coalition Government disbanded the Connexions service, careers advice has fragmented which has made it impossible for teachers to know where to turn to get good advice for young people.
“Teachers desperately want to be able to provide the best advice, but, although the Government made it a statutory requirement for schools to provide impartial careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG), it has not provided funding for the specialists needed to coordinate this.”
“There are not enough apprenticeships available for young people, with only 6 per cent of 16 to 18-year-olds on apprenticeships according to Ofsted’s 2013/14 annual report.  Many employers appear to prefer to recruit older existing employees onto apprenticeships. 
“In 2014/15 only 25 per cent of new apprenticeships went to those under 19 years old, while 48 per cent were filled by existing staff.  And many of the apprenticeships are of poor quality, with Ofsted saying (in 2014/15) nearly half (49 per cent) of those it inspected were inadequate or required improvement.”
She also mentioned the considerable regional variation in the availability of apprenticeships, with fewer in London than the North West, and apprenticeships in London concentrated in the arts, media and publishing, while there is a greater concentration of engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships in the North West and West Midlands.
“So far the Government has put too much emphasis on the needs of employers and not enough on what is best for young people’s future careers and their aspirations. Young people should have a right to have work experience and proper funding to enable them to find out about all opportunities, including those outside their local area. This is particularly important in rural and coastal areas where employment opportunities may be limited.
“Schools and colleges do, however, need more help from employers.  We want work experience to be compulsory for 16-18 year-olds, and this will require employers to provide good quality placements.  Many schools and colleges currently find it hard to get employers to provide work experience – an ATL survey in 2014 found 40 per cent of schools and colleges said they had poor access to national employers and 10 per cent said access was non-existent.”
“Good careers advice and education should be embedded in all curriculum subject areas.  The Government should also fund schools so they can provide good careers using the benchmarks in the Gatbsy Good Careers Guidance Report of 2014.”
Bousted highlighted how careers advice for young people is likely to get even more problematic as post-16 education and training becomes more fragmented and is affected by the uncertainly over which colleges and schools will have a future after the Area Reviews.

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