Ayub's View

Ayub's View

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Careers Advice

Young PeoplePosted by Ayub Khan Fri, September 16, 2011 14:21:39

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:


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Posted by @simoncrossley (twitter) Fri, September 16, 2011 14:55:32

I too can remember my first contact with careers advice and it involved careers evening in which my father asked the careers teacher what I should do with my life and the teacher replied that that is my decision. My father went off in a huff and I went on to become a careers advisor.

I have worked with many teachers involved in careers guidance in the past and have always held the most respect for them, even those that do not actively choose to do it still treated it with respect. And they have always valued an independent careers advisor coming in to their school and providing one to one guidance - a valuable resource once.

The teachers knew - as we advisors did - that any school with a sixth form found impartial career guidance at odds with its 'business'. The Head teachers I found always tolerated us and would undermine us if it conflicted with their own intentions regarding THEIR PUPILS moving onto THEIR sixth form. Our impartiality here was recognised by pupils however carefully we phrased it.

So it beggars belief to me how schools - now effectively a business - can be given this cherished service and responsibility. For schools that have no sixth form the progress of their pupils after they leave is not a priority, their grades are.

Careers advisors have always been a soft target but careers for so many pupils at school is a moving ambition, I for one never imagined I would have become one. The point here is that it is an intervention at a critical stage in a child's life that can influence them on one of their most important decisions - even if the school actively disagrees with it for their bums on seats in their sixth form. It is so absolutely obvious that schools and colleges are vehemently against an independent service that does not fit with its business model - and no doubt lobbied against it.

I now work in adult education and manage an adult guidance service which has been praised by Matrix and Ofsted for its outstanding work with people from deprived communities. Guidance is for life but if we do not get it right at the first point of contact in person's life we leave tainted memories. If we do get it right then we leave confident young adults.