NIACE responds to National Careers Council’s first report

5 June 2013

NIACE welcomes the publication of the report of the National Careers Council, as an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of careers education and development through support, guidance and mentoring. Helping people of all ages navigate a complex and changing labour market assists in the efficiency of the economy as well as the wellbeing and fulfilment of individuals.

An aspirational nation: creating a culture change in careers provision contains much of value and NIACE supports the broad thrust of its approach, recognises much of the analysis and welcomes the description of its own mid-life career review initiative as “highly innovative”. NIACE is also pleased that that its potential to contribute to workplace outreach and intergenerational work through family learning is also acknowledged.

However, NIACE would characterise the report as falling into two parts overall. The first helpfully highlights the need for more work to be done by the National Careers Service to engage with employers and other partners in order to provide an even better service to adults. This would be aided substantially if Government permitted the service to undertake targeted marketing and outreach to those groups of people who need the support most. Such spending would allow for the modest Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) investments in the Service to have even more impact.

The second, more problematic part of the report, which NIACE fears could swamp the focus on all people aged over 18, is the set of recommendations regarding support for people under 18. NIACE supports the analysis – cited from OECD, the Select Committee, the CBI and others – that schools and colleges need to improve the careers education they provide or secure such that young people reach the age of 18 with a better understanding of the world of work, their prospects, the role of learning throughout life and with the characteristics of resilience, adaptability and self-confidence which come with being a lifelong learner.

Since the £104 million annual budget for the National Careers Service is funded by BIS (80%), MoJ (13%), Department for Education (less than 5%) and Department for Work and Pensions (less than 1.5%), Government would need to look at where responsibility for funding provision for people under 18 should lie rather than, effectively, ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.

NIACE’s Chief Executive, David Hughes, said:

“Ofsted is shortly to publish a report exploring the extent to which all young people up to and including the age of 16 are receiving comprehensive impartial advice and guidance in order to make informed decisions about their options pre- and post-16. We look forward to contributing to a debate with all government departments about what reforms may be needed and how provision might be funded equitably.”