Careers guidance professionals were told to step up and get with the programme at the Institute of Careers Guidance (ICG) conference in Brighton.

Ruth Spellman, chair of the Careers Profession Alliance, said: “We need as never before to stand together. The profession is looking very beleaguered, and we need to address that.”

Steve Higginbotham, ICG President, said: “The last 12 months has seen the most intense and sustained period of change ever.”

The event, ‘New Beginnings – Sustaining the Future’, was a chance for the further education (FE) sector to discuss how they could cope with new legislation and a shrinking workforce.

John Hayes, Minister for FE, Skills and Lifelong Learning said the sector would “simply have to do more with less” as it “approached a moment of immense significance.”

It’s right that large employers should make a contribution to the scheme, it’s absolutely right.”

Mr Hayes added the sector would need “to be very creative and enterprising” to deal with the tough economic climate.

“I don’t want there to be any illusion that it was better in the past. It wasn’t the right model,” he said.

The two day event will include keynote presentations from Peter Lauener, chief executive of the Young People’s Learning Agency and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

FE Week also asked Mr Hayes whether or not he thought large employers like Morrisons and Asda should be contributing cash towards apprenticeships.

He said: “It’s right that large employers should make a contribution to the scheme, it’s absolutely right. What I said in opposition is that it was time for a debate about who pays for what.

“This is what individuals pay, which is why we’re talking about changing some of the funding assumptions around provisionals, and what the government should pay, and that’s where it can put it’s money to maximum effect, as well as what employers pay. It’s perfectly appropriate to have that debate.”

A full report from the ICG Conference will be available in the next edition of FE Week.

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