The Government is introducing some changes to the way in which young people get Careers Advice. Put simply, schools will determine who should receive face to face guidance and this will be supplemented by a national telephone helpline and web site.
This got me thinking about my experience of Careers Advice. As a 16 year old leaving school in 1981, I was asked to go to Room B and meet someone who would give me advice on my career. The man behind the desk said, “What do you like doing”, I replied, “Well I like cars mucking about with cars”. This response prompted him to reach for a leaflet; he passed it to me and said. There you go son, this is information on how to become a car mechanic and with that I was ushered outside. No guidance, no challenge to my statement, no discussion. That was it. The intervention probably lasted about 2 minutes.
Life has a great sense of humour and as my career developed I have led a Connexions Service which has been responsible for delivering Careers Guidance to 13-19 year olds across six south London boroughs. Whilst there has never been a golden age of Careers Guidance Services, I can tell you that since my experience at school, Careers Guidance Services have greatly improved. A relentless approach to monitoring the quality of a service has always been at the forefront of what I do, and providers who I have contracted to deliver such services have not always appreciated why I have taken this stance. However as the Government pushes through its changes there is a real danger that some young people will not get any face to face guidance but will instead be directed to a website. This may suit some, but there is nothing better than sitting down with a qualified and competent individual and getting good solid impartial advice.
I fear that with this Governments approach avoiding any monitoring of such services from an external source that some young people will get the sort of intervention that I received, which is simply not good enough. In the debate on Careers Services which took place this week, Andy Burnham, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education asked the Government if the sort of service that they have planned would be good enough for their children. We still await the answer.
You can access a copy of the Hansard note for the debate on Careers at: