Colleges have been warned that they could be stripped of funding if they do not comply with the government’s new careers guidelines.

Updated guidance was published this afternoon by the Department for Education following the unveiling of the long-overdue careers strategy in December, which said colleges need to meet eight “Gatsby Benchmarks”.

It states that colleges are expected to begin to work towards these standards, which have been designed over the past three years to ensure they succeed in a post-16 setting, now and meet them by the end of 2020.

The guidance then warns that colleges risk losing their grant funding if the demands are not met in that timescale.

“Colleges are expected to comply with this guidance and this forms part of the conditions of grant funding,” it said.

“In the event of non-compliance it is open to the ESFA to take action in accordance with the provisions of its grant agreement.”

The careers strategy includes £4 million to support every school and college to have a careers leader, and a further £5 million funding to develop 20 careers hubs.

One of the benchmarks is called “encounters with employers and employees”. The DfE said it expects every college to begin to offer every learner at least two “meaningful encounters” with an employer each year and should meet this in full by the end of 2020.

This could, for example, involve students attending careers events, participating in CV workshops and mock interviews, mentoring, employer-delivered employability workshops, or business games and enterprise competitions.

At least one of these “encounters” should be related to learners’ fields of study.

From September 2018, every college should appoint a named person to the role of “careers leader” to lead the programme. Every college should also publish the careers programme on its website.

The DfE said it “recognises” that the work needed to meet all eight Benchmarks will vary for each college, but in any case they should be met by the end of 2020.

An online self-evaluation tool, Compass, will be available in September 2018 for colleges to “assess” how their careers support compares against the Gatsby Benchmarks and the national average.

The Careers and Enterprise Company has also said it will provide external support to colleges.

The eight benchmarks are:

  1. A stable careers programme
  2. Learning from career and labour market information
  3. Addressing the needs of each student
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
  5. Encounters with employers and employees
  6. Experiences of workplaces
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance

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