Two ministers, one careers strategy ‘desperately needed’

The Department for Education (DfE) has overlooked Skills Minister Nick Boles (pictured above left) for its careers guidance remit — despite him having been handed the job for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mr Boles, who serves as a minister in both departments, has been given BIS responsibility for post-18 careers advice, while Education Minister Sam Gyimah (pictured above right) was handed DfE responsibility for careers advice up to the age of 18 and for the government’s new careers company.

It is a move that has led to concerns about a lack of “joined-up thinking” from the government on careers advice. However, a DfE spokesperson told FE Week that dividing the issue between two ministers was “evidence of how highly we are prioritising this important subject”.

Tristram Hooley, professor of career education at the University of Derby, told FE Week he had concerns about whether “desperately-needed” inter-departmental strategy on careers would take place under the new model.

“I think that we haven’t seen the direction that the current government wants to take on careers yet,” he said.

“The signs at the end of the last government were that there seemed to be some improvement, the question is whether that will be sustained.

“The OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] review of career guidance policies argued that the strongest model was to have a lifelong guidance system. Instead in England we have multiple ministers in multiple departments responsible for fragmented services.

“There is a desperate need for some strategy here.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Two ministers having responsibility for two distinct areas of careers education — one focusing on young people up to 18 and one on adults — is evidence of how highly we are prioritising this important subject.

“Our new careers and enterprise company for schools will also help deliver real social justice by ensuring all pupils have opportunities to thrive, regardless of their background.”

BIS declined to comment.