This House of Commons Library briefing paper looks at the requirements on schools, colleges and universities in England to provide careers guidance, the quality of the advice provided, and also the organisations working to provide careers advice.Jump to full report >>
This briefing applies to England only.
Since September 2013, local authority maintained schools have been under a duty to provide impartial careers guidance to pupils from years 8 to 13 (ages 12-18).
The Department for Education has published statutory guidance (most recently updated in March 2015) for maintained schools on their duty to provide careers guidance.
Many academies and free schools are subject to the duties relating to careers guidance through their funding agreements, including those which opened from September 2012 onwards and those which have moved to an updated funding agreement. Academies without the requirement are encouraged to follow the guidance as a statement of good practice. There is also separate non-statutory ‘good practice’ DfE guidance on this issue.
All further education (FE) colleges and sixth form colleges have been required to secure access to independent careers guidance from September 2013. This requirement is part of FE college and sixth form college funding agreements.
The Department for Education has published guidance for FE and sixth form colleges to draw on in fulfilling this duty.
In the Summer Budget 2015, the Government announced the creation of a new Jobcentre plus employment advisor role, working with schools and sixth-form colleges to help improve young people’s ability to find work. The programme is beginning in Birmingham before expanding more widely, with full rollout across England by March 2017.
In January 2016, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced a campaign for business people and professionals to volunteer to act as mentors to young teens at risk of dropping out of education or achieving less than they could, with further funding announced in March.
Also in January 2016, the then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced that the Government would legislate “at the earliest opportunity” to require schools to ensure non-academic routes received “equal airtime” with academic routes in schools career advice. Schools would be required by law to collaborate with colleges, university technical colleges and other training providers to ensure this was done.
An amendment was tabled to the Technical and Further Education Bill in the House of Lords in February 2017 by Lord Baker, to require schools to admit providers of technical education and apprenticeships to contact pupils to promote their courses. The amendment was accepted by the Minister and added to the Bill, and became law shortly prior to the 2017 General Election. The provisions are however not yet in force.
The Department for Education has stated that it will publish a careers strategy, confirmed in January 2016 by the then education minister Sam Gyimah, which will develop the Government’s aims for careers guidance to 2020.
The Industrial Strategy Green Paper published in January 2017 stated that the careers strategy, initially planned to be published in 2016, would be published in 2017.
There are no statutory requirements around the provision of careers advice in higher education institutions (HEIs). Regardless of this careers advice and guidance is an important student service offered by all higher education institutions (HEIs). HEIs are autonomous bodies and all HEIs have their own careers service staffed by professionals who are trained in this area.
In December 2014, the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, made a statement to the House stating that “it is widely acknowledged that careers provision in schools has long been inadequate…Some schools and colleges are doing great things to ensure that their students access the necessary support, but too often provision is patchy.”
In January 2013 the Commons Education Select Committee published a report which stated that it had “concerns about the consistency, quality, independence and impartiality of careers guidance now being offered to young people.” The Committee undertook a follow-up report, announced in July 2014, as “it was clear to [the Committee] that careers advice in schools was not improving.”
The National Careers Service (NCS), launched in April 2012, provides people over 13 years old with information, advice and guidance on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential and impartial advice, supported by qualified careers advisers. NCS services may be provided face-to-face, via telephone or online.
The NCS aims to:
In December 2014, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published its third National Careers Service Satisfaction and Progression Surveys Annual Report. This includes the following overview of customer satisfaction with the service:
Customers continue to rate the service very highly. Overall 94% of face-to-face and telephone customers agreed that the service was good; and 85% were satisfied overall, with 41% very satisfied.
An economic evaluation of the NCS, commissioned by the Department for Education, was published in March 2017.
The evaluation “could not identify a positive impact of the National Careers Service on employment or benefit dependency outcomes,” but did “identify a relatively strong positive effect in relation to education and training.”
The CEC is designed to broker partnerships between schools, further education colleges and employers in order to give pupils aged 12 to 18 better access to advice and inspiration in finding a career.
The CEC has announced it is building a network of volunteer Enterprise Advisers, drawn from employers, to work directly with the leadership of individual schools and colleges. Clusters of schools and colleges and Enterprise Advisers will be supported by a full time Enterprise Coordinator.
In October 2015 the CEC announced that a £5m Investment Fund, drawn from the £20m provided by the Government for the initial start-up of the CEC, would be used to improve careers guidance in areas where CEC research had identified ‘cold spots’ where careers and enterprise provision is weakest.
The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, formed by members of the Education Committee and the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, announced an inquiry into careers advice, information and guidance on 8 December 2015.
The sub-committee asked for submissions on:
The Sub-Committee published its report in July 2016, which made recommendations including:
The Government published its response in November 2016, and rejected the recommendations relating to Ofsted and the CEC, although careers guidance has now been brought within the remit of one Minister at the Department for Education. The Sub-Committee’s Co-Chairs said the Government were “burying their heads in the sand” about the quality of careers provision.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7236
Authors: Robert Long; Susan Hubble