Careers advice hotline brought under one roof

Careers advice hotline services for young people and adults are to be brought under one roof after Serco was awarded a £6m Skills Funding Agency (SFA) contract to deliver both.

Serco, which previously ran the National Careers Service (NCS) advice line for adults, will also take up the service for young people, previously delivered by BSS.

Serco’s existing contact centre in Newcastle will expand to take on the new work, with a total of 118 staff, with workers from the BSS sites in Leicester and Manchester having been offered posts.

Both BSS and Serco, which has an initial contract for three years with the option of a two-year extension, achieved grade two Ofsted ratings for their services.

A Serco spokesperson told FE Week: “All BSS employees were offered a TUPE transfer to Serco. A number of employees found new jobs elsewhere.

“The employees who transferred have decided not to take up the roles on offer due to location. We have offered them support in terms of finding alternative roles and they will also receive a financial package.”

Sean Hanson, managing director of Serco’s public sector outsourcing business, said: “I am delighted and excited to be extending our partnership with the SFA to provide careers advice and information for the NCS.”

The new centre is expected to be accessible seven days a week and 14 hours a-day on telephone and online.

Joe Billington, NCS director, said: “We’re delighted to be working with such an experienced service provider as Serco to ensure users receive the best possible service.”

An SFA spokesperson said the contract had been awarded following a “competitive procurement process”. She said: “This is part of an integrated approach to the delivery of careers information and advice to young people and adults in England.”

Jan Ellis, chief executive of the Careers Development Institute (CDI), the professional body for careers advisers, said: “Congratulations to Serco. We’re really delighted that it’s going to be delivering personalised support and inspirational career guidance.

“And the CDI would hope that people providing the service are qualified to do so and are members of the CDI.”

The CDI sits on the advisory board of the new careers and enterprise company, proposed by Nicky Morgan in December to provide links between schools and employers — but Ms Ellis said the two services would be “completely separate”.