Careers guidance services for young people have deteriorated and will continue to do so unless urgent steps are taken by the Government, MPs have said.
A new report from the Commons Education Committee highlights concerns about the quality, independence, impartiality and availability of careers guidance.
Committee chair Graham Stuart said:
“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.”
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers has backed the report’s conclusions and proposed that at least one teacher from every secondary school should undertake work experience with an apprenticeship provider and become the apprenticeship champion for their school.
Graham Hoyle, chief executive of AELP, said:
"This a powerful report with its conclusions strengthened by the Committee's gathering the views of young people themselves during the inquiry. The young people talk about the value of work related learning which the government has decided is no longer a statutory obligation for schools and AELP is in strong agreement with the MPs that the obligation should be restored through the statutory guidance.
"The report rightly highlights the dangers of the lack of access to impartial advice particularly with regard to guidance about apprenticeships and other vocational options. AELP proposed to DfE several years ago its preparedness, through its training provider members, to engage with every secondary school in the country and present to every secondary teacher at one of their regular termly inset training days.
“The presentation would cover a generic description of the apprenticeship system and benefits and be delivered where possible by a combination of apprentices who have previously attended that school, their current employers and the organising training provider. It would also signpost the school, and its pupils, to the full range of apprenticeship opportunities in the area.
"As early advocates of the strengthening of Ofsted's role in checking on the quality of the advice being offered in schools, we are greatly concerned by the Committee's identification of a disconnect between Ofsted's understanding of its new responsibilities and the minister's view on what inspectors should be doing. The recommendation that schools should be required to publish an annual careers plan which shows evidence of impartial advice being made available would appear to be a good way of starting to tackle the issue.
"We support a widening of the National Careers Service's remit to cover young people as well as adults, which would put it on the same footing as the services in Scotland and Wales. AELP also backs the Committee's recommendation that the National Apprenticeship Service should be given access to all schools without waiting to be invited."
The Committee has called for face-to-face guidance to be available to all young people as an integral part of a good quality careers service.
“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,” Mr Stuart said.