The Government has admitted to missing its target to recruit 300 ‘volunteer enterprise advisers’ by the end of March this year, with 127 places yet to be filled.
In a response to a parliamentary written question about the government’s careers initiatives, it was revealed that the Department for Education (DfE) currently has just 173 (or 60%) of the advisers in place.
The role of the volunteer enterprise advisers is to support young people between 12-18 in schools and colleges with careers advice.
Commenting on the response to his written question, Labour’s Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden said: “Over a year and a half since Ministers first announced their Careers and Enterprise Company, there is very little clarity on what focus or priorities it will have.
“How on earth does the Government expect to try to resurrect a careers programme with such flimsy foundations?
“Young people make career decisions on the basis of their own hands-on experiences as well as from advice by adults. Yet, the DfE continues to fail young people – by not including an obligation for work experience at Key Stage 4 in the curriculum.”
Mr Marsden estimates that with only 173 advisers in place, each currently has responsibility for supporting 18,408 students at secondary school level and 4,600 students in FE and sixth form colleges, making 23,000 young people in total.
When the Government reaches its 300 target, each adviser will support around 13,000 students.
He added that young people “are in danger of being short-changed” over their future career options, with information, advice and guidance or vocational routes in particular remaining “very restricted”.
The Careers and Enterprise Company, first announced by education secretary Nick Morgan in December 2014, was launched in the summer of 2015. Led by chief executive Claudia Harris, the company now has 18 full time equivalent staff members.
Ms Harris commented on the finding, saying: “In what can be a confusing landscape, we use targeted evidence and interventions to make it easier for schools, colleges, employers and careers and enterprise providers to work effectively together to support young people. By working in partnership with other organisations, we are able to significantly amplify our reach.
“We are working with the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to build local networks of senior business volunteers to connect to schools and colleges, and we are funding existing providers to scale-up proven careers and enterprise programmes in areas of need.”
She added that in its first year, the company has launched three key interventions which it is “delivering ahead of schedule”.
These include an analysis of areas in England where young people face the greatest need for careers and enterprise provision; the launch of a £5m Careers & Enterprise Fund to invest in organisations in these areas of need; and the launch of the Enterprise Adviser network, which is active in 35 LEPs with over 400 schools.
“The core of our approach is to work in partnership with others, building on what works and testing and learning as we go, to help better inspire and prepare young people across England for work,” she said.
When asked about missing the recruitment target, a Department for Education spokesperson: “Latest figures show the number of young people not in education or training is at the lowest on record and we have the highest ever number of young people going into higher education.
“We have introduced a more rigorous curriculum so every child learns the basic skills they need such as English and maths so they can go on to fulfill their potential whether they are going into the world of work or continuing their studies.
“We are investing £70 million in our careers strategy over the course of this parliament to transform the quality of careers education. We have also set up the Careers & Enterprise Company to bring young people into contact with employers and develop closer links with employers so they can play a greater role in preparing young people for the world of work.”