How far have we gone in achieving a careers guidance ‘culture change’?

Six months after the National Careers Council called for a “culture change” in careers guidance, Deirdre Hughes, in light of a new report from the council, gives an overview of what has changed.


In June 2013 the National Careers Council, set up by government to advise on how careers provision for young people and adults could be improved, published its first report.

We called for a culture change in careers provision, including the provision of more career insights and improved access to independent and impartial career guidance, particularly for young people.

In September 2013, the recommendations were formally accepted by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock in his Inspirational Vision Statement.

Since then, careers provision for young people has remained firmly in the spotlight. A six-month review by the council considers what progress has been made by government in implementing the recommendations and practical steps outlined in the council’s 2013 report.

Overall, the findings indicate an urgent need to accelerate progress, particularly in careers support services for young people.

Findings indicate an urgent need to accelerate progress, particularly in careers support services for young people

The government plans to support the recommended culture change by promoting stronger links between employers, schools and colleges.

Ministers indicate this will not be a top-down scheme, but a change of approach building on the good practice that already happens in the best schools and colleges.

Ofsted has challenged schools ‘to raise their game’ with progress made by the inspectorate in providing examples of successful approaches in individual schools.

Colleges have increasingly promoted their careers offer to young people and parents, especially those seeking to attract pupils aged 14+.

The forthcoming revised Statutory Guidance for schools and colleges is expected to make more explicit the role of intermediaries in bringing educators and employers closer together.

Our findings indicate many schools are unsure what to do and need some support in this period of transition.

Industry, education and careers leaders, as well as many across government, recognise the need to tackle skills gaps and mismatch.

The supply and demand for skills is rapidly changing, influenced by technological, demographic and global trends.

The role of employers in stepping up to provide more career opportunities, particularly for young people, is vital for our current and future economy.

The death of the Saturday job, compounded by limited exposure to work experience, has resulted in a widening gap between young people and the world of work.

The council has reiterated to government the added-value benefits of encouraging a culture change among schools, colleges, employers and career development professionals through the ongoing development of the National Careers Service (NCS), supported by an employer-led Advisory Board.

Since September 2013, closer working links have been established between Local Enterprise Partnerships and the NCS in the re-procurement of careers service delivery in 2014.

Council discussions are under way with the chair and chief executive at the Skills Funding Agency on the option of an employer-led Advisory Board working with the NCS.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the NCS are working with the Career Development Institute to agree next steps for a freely available online directory of independent, impartial and qualified career development professionals.

Labour market intelligence feeding into education and careers support systems is on the increase.

Government has stimulated the careers market, resulting in a plethora of initiatives all keen to work with schools, colleges and employers.

We believe the NCS has a key role in mapping the landscape of careers provision and co-ordinating the efforts of the different organisations engaged in careers work, alongside helping schools to understand where they can access help and support.

We remain fully committed to achieving an all-age careers service that needs to do more with schools in recognition that careers provision must be improved.

Further investment is needed to bring about the culture change that is necessary, particularly if all young people and adults are to benefit from changes in education and the world of work.


Deirdre Hughes OBE, chair,
National Careers Council


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