Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Careers advice change failing young people - claim

A youth work agency boss says a report highlighting a “worrying deterioration” in careers advice proves efforts to tackle youth unemployment are being hampered.

Mark Bowman photo
Mark Bowman

Mark Bowman, chief executive of Carlisle-based Inspira, spoke after a parliamentary committee said the Government’s decision to hand responsibility for careers guidance to schools was “regrettable”.

And his organisation, which works across the county, fears that more young people will end up out of work or education – costing Cumbrian taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds for every jobless person.

The Commons Education Select Committee said it had concerns about the “consistency, quality, independence and impartiality” of the advice now offered to youngsters.

Since last September, there has been a duty on schools and colleges to provide all pupils aged between 13 and 16 with impartial careers guidance.

But the committee’s inquiry into the impact of the move has concluded that the quality of the careers advice on offer has deteriorated, and should not be left to schools alone.

It raised concerns that teenagers are not getting face-to-face advice, and that some schools are putting their own interests above their students.

There is evidence that young people are facing a postcode lottery in careers advice, with the quality varying between local authorities and between schools, the report found.

Mr Bowman said: “The report highlights what we have been saying for some time now.

“Impartial careers advice and guidance available to all young people and delivered by trained professionals is essential to help them make the right decisions for their future.

“Given current factors such as the raising of the participation age, the expanding range of educational choices available and high levels of youth unemployment, impartial, professional careers advice is even more critical.”

Fears also persist that further council spending cuts could further worsen the situation in Cumbria and the efforts to give appropriate advice and guidance given to young people.

Suzanne Caldwell, of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Too many young people are missing out and employers are facing recruitment difficulties because young people aren’t aware of the range of career choices and don’t understand what they involve.

“It is vital that information, advice and guidance is provided absolutely impartially, by organisations that don’t have a vested interest in channelling young people in a particular direction.”

The Commons committee said urgent steps need to be taken to ensure young peoples’ needs are met.


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