‘Careers advisers who don’t promote apprenticeships should be fired’

Failure to promote apprenticeships and traineeships should result in the sack for careers advisers, House of Commons Education Select Committee chair Graham Stuart has said.

During a debate secured by the Association of Colleges and All-Party Parliamentary Group for FE and lifelong learning chair Stephen Lloyd MP, Mr Stuart said schools needed a bigger incentive to offer comprehensive careers advice, including non-academic routes.

He said: “The heart of the problem is a simple one, in my opinion — it doesn’t come out in the myriad of reports that have been produced on this subject or indeed in enough speeches given by colleagues in this chamber. The problem is there are insufficient incentives for schools to take it seriously.”

He added: “We have got to change the accountability regime to a high-stakes environment in which you very easily get publicly humiliated or sacked.”

His comments on February 25 came after the 2011 Education Act made it an explicit requirement of schools to promote apprenticeships and traineeships in careers advice, and Mr Stuart said the majority of schools were failing to get it right.

“The central issue is that schools aren’t incentivised to take it seriously and they have some perverse incentives like filling their sixth form places which means they won’t even let colleges in,” he said.

Shadow Junior Education Minister Yvonne Fovargue agreed and paid tribute to the work of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

She said: “The fact is that we need more than an unenforced duty on schools, which simply leads to buck-passing. One-in-three teachers says they do not have the right expertise and resources to adequately provide effective information, advice and guidance.”

She added: “I visited the Bristol campus of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College the other month. The college has an excellent careers hub, working with schools across the area — independent schools, academies, state-controlled schools and primary schools — and providing one-to-one advice from professional careers advisers, which it employs.

“The college is the point of contact for all employers, it works with the local enterprise partnership, and it is considering expanding its service. It is an excellent model for the careers advice of the future.”

Main pic: Graham Stuart & Yvonne Fovargue