The country’s largest teaching union has said that careers guidance is best provided by an independent, external careers service and money should be set aside to pay for it.
The NASUWT was responding to a new report from the Commons Education Committee that warned careers services for young people have deteriorated and will continue to do so unless urgent steps are taken.
Committee Chair Graham Stuart MP said:
“If young people are to benefit from the increased choices created by this Government we need a careers advice and guidance system which supports them to make the right ones.
“We want face-to-face guidance to be available to all young people as an integral part of a good quality careers service. They deserve and should receive far better support than current arrangements generally allow."
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“The provision of high quality, impartial careers advice is essential in supporting young people to make the most of their talents and in helping them maker informed choices about their futures.
“However, as the Committee’s report has rightly recognised, the Government’s reforms to the careers service risk reducing this important entitlement to a postcode lottery.
“Devolving responsibility for careers guidance to schools risks a narrowing of the options available to young people and could result in wide variations in the careers support available to students.
“Careers guidance is best provided by an independent, external careers service staffed by appropriately trained experts who can support young people as they plan and consider their future career options. The Coalition Government must act to reinstate the duty on local authorities to plan and organise the provision of support for young people.
“Given the committee’s recognition of the importance of high quality careers advice for all young people, it is disappointing it has not recommended the provision of any additional funding to provide careers advice.
“With education budgets coming under increasing strain as a result of the Government’s austerity measures, additional finance to meet the challenges identified in the Committee’s report should be a priority.
“The quality of careers provision in schools is already part of the Ofsted inspection remit and schools are already held accountable for the standard of their careers support. Imposing a further requirement on schools to publish an annual careers plan would be completely inappropriate and a distraction from schools’ core purpose of focusing on teaching and learning.”
Mr Stuart said the committee has identified a worrying deterioration in the level of provision for young people and highlights concerns about the quality, independence, impartiality and availability of careers guidance.
"The National Careers Service (NCS) is a great innovation for adults but we want to see its remit extended to include support for schools by providing a capacity-building and brokerage role,” he said.
“The NCS must also be adequately funded to deliver this critical service for young people. Schools can’t simply be left to get on with it.
“Too many schools put their own interests ahead of that of their pupils, restrict access to other education providers and make the filling of their sixth form places more of a priority than their statutory duty to provide independent and impartial advice and guidance for pupils. That’s why the Committee recommends that schools be required to produce an annual careers plan to ensure that they can be held accountable for what they do."