Careers advice is heading towards cliff-edge, CBI warns

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that careers guidance is “heading towards a cliff edge”, joining sector-wide calls to ensure young people are aware of all their options.

The comments, from CBI director for employment and skills policy Neil Carberry, come after a survey of 2000 14 to 25-year-olds showed that only 26 per cent of them were given information on apprenticeships and only 17 per cent were advised on vocational qualifications.

Advice is scarce for young people not interested in being funnelled towards A-levels and university and exciting, potential life-changing career alternatives are being lost.

Mr Carberry said: “Careers guidance in England’s schools is heading towards a cliff-edge.

“Advice is scarce for young people not interested in being funnelled towards A-levels and university and exciting, potential life-changing career alternatives are being lost.”
He added: “There is a worrying shortage of skills in some of our key industries and if we don’t give young people the information they need to find apprenticeships or sign up to high-quality vocational training, this will only get worse.”

The warning coincided with a report published by the Skills Commission — a body administered by cross-party think-tank Policy Connect — calling for action on a career advice “crisis”.

The report, One System, Many Pathways, is the result of a cross-party inquiry chaired by Sir Mike Tomlinson, former chief inspector of schools, and Ian Ferguson, chairman of trustees at Metaswitch.

It said: “The Department for Education [DfE] must immediately acknowledge the crisis in information, advice, and guidance, and undertake a full review of provision.”
It added: “Teachers are not trained to offer employment advice, and cannot be expected to understand what all careers entail, or even recognise how a particular aptitude might translate into a perfect career option.”

Since April 2012, schools, rather than local authorities have been responsible for providing information, advice, and guidance on future careers.

But, the report said: “As the recent Ofsted report made clear, this is not yet working, and government must intervene before more learners leave this transition phase with scant clear knowledge from their educational provider about how their skills might translate into worthwhile employment.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Colleges has its own Careers Advice: Guaranteed campaign calling for increased access to advice through Jobcentre Plus and local authorities, accountability through Ofsted and investment from the DfE.

At the association’s annual conference last month, association president Michele Sutton said: “Wherever I go, whoever I speak to, principals across the country all agree that the quality of impartial advice and guidance is nothing less than appalling.”