The Education Committee and the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee reported to the House on Careers education, information, advice and guidance (HC 205) in their First Joint Report of Session 2016–17 on 5 July 2016 following an inquiry by the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy. The Government’s response was received on 12 October 2016 and is appended to this report.
In the Government response, the Committee’s recommendations appear in bold text and the Government’s responses are in plain text.
The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy published the report of its inquiry into careers education, information, advice and guidance on 5 July 2016. This document sets out the Government’s response to the Committee’s report. In the case of some recommendations, the response reflects the fact that the Government is continuing to develop a programme of work following the recent Ministerial and machinery of government changes. We would be pleased to provide further information to the Committee on these areas in due course.
The Government welcomes the Committee’s recognition of the importance of careers education, information, advice and guidance in helping both to prepare young people well for their future lives and to give the economy a workforce with the knowledge and skills it needs. The Government is committed to making this a country that works for everyone. It is essential that every young person in this country receives a high-quality education, regardless of their background or where they live. Helping all young people get the education and guidance they need to climb the ladder of opportunity is crucial to delivering real social mobility.
We know that children from lower income backgrounds do less well in education and that we need to do more to reach the most disadvantaged children and those from families who are just managing. That is why we have recently announced the first six Opportunity Areas – West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough, Derby and Oldham. The purpose of Opportunity Areas is to focus the whole education community, from early years to employment, in the areas of the country where social mobility is lowest. Further Opportunity Areas will be announced in the coming months. We are making available up to £60 million of new funding for targeted, local work in these areas to increase social mobility.
Despite this, we agree with the Committee that there is more to do to ensure all young people have access to the support they need. We want an innovative new approach that will support social mobility by making sure that everyone, regardless of background, has access to the right information at the right time. This approach is needed to support all young people in making the best decisions regarding their education, training or career options. Providing young people with the right information at the right time is key to ensuring every young person goes as far as their talents will take them, which is one of the priorities in the Opportunity Areas.
This means making available rich, high quality information – at the right times – that will support young people and their parents to make informed decisions on education (including the routes into technical education, apprenticeships and higher education), training and employment options. This might include information on how different pathways lead to different careers (comparing earnings and other outcomes). We also need to make available the support to help young people negotiate this information and to help guide them through the decision-making process.
We need to be more ambitious in creating a careers offer which is tailored to each education transition point. Beginning at primary, a range of age-appropriate activities should be provided. A planned careers programme can help all young people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Too often young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are held back by a lack of support in making important decisions. We also need to do more to reach those young people from families who are just managing and may lack access to the life-changing advice and inspiration to help them fulfil their potential. Research has shown that young adults with higher levels of school-age employer contacts were, on average, up to 20% less likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training). Young adults with higher levels of employer contacts were earning around 18% more than comparable peers who had less exposure to employers while at school.
Considerable progress has been made to improve careers support for young people since the previous Education Committee’s 2013 report, ‘Careers guidance for young people: The impact of the new duty on schools’. The Careers & Enterprise Company was established in December 2014 in direct response to concerns raised by the Education Committee and other respected sources, including Ofsted, that schools and colleges need more help to navigate the fragmented careers landscape and to form strong links with employers.
Since its inception, The Careers & Enterprise Company has made excellent progress. An was recently published setting out the Company’s achievements during the first year of operation. The Company is already making a real impact across the country by linking schools and colleges with employers and providers of careers and enterprise activities. These partnerships are giving young people a better introduction to the world of work and a clear understanding of what their future might hold. The Company has published research which provides an excellent evidence base for future targeting of initiatives to improve the quality of careers and enterprise programmes for young people. This includes research looking at the effectiveness of employer mentoring, at school disengagement and at where careers and enterprise activities are most needed. In August the Company published ‘Moments of Choice’ which highlights how the overwhelming nature of the careers information landscape affects young people’s ability to make decisions about their future careers. This is an issue that we are very keen to address. By improving the data that we use to help young people make the right choice as recommended by the Committee (see response to recommendation 6), we can build a country that works for everyone and makes the most of every young person’s unique combination of talents.
The Company delivers lasting, powerful connections between local businesses and nearby schools and colleges through their Enterprise Adviser Network. The Company has already appointed 78 coordinators and almost 1200 advisers. Over 700 schools and colleges (in 37 out of 38 Local Enterprise Partnership areas in England) have been helped to develop better careers and enterprise programmes for their pupils.
The careers and enterprise investment fund has distributed £5 million to careers and enterprise programmes, securing over £4 million additional in matched funding from programme providers. This investment will boost provision for nearly 250,000 young people across England in 75% of the areas the Company has identified as ‘cold spots’. This will allow young people to benefit from programmes that are proven to help young people identify the best path to make the most of their individual talents.
Since the review was published the Company has launched a Mentor Investment Fund to support the delivery of a country-wide network of mentors to support young people most at risk of not achieving their potential.
The Company will also invest £4 million to support pupils in secondary schools and colleges that are most in need. This includes £1 million of funding of targeted support in the first six Opportunity Areas. The remaining £3 million will be invested in programmes in other parts of the country which have had a proven positive impact on supporting young people into work, such as work experience, workplace visits, careers talks and volunteering.
The National Careers Service provides free, up-to-date, impartial information and advice about education, training or work to adults and young people aged 13 years and over. This is twinned with up-to-date information on careers, jobs and routes into apprenticeships and work. Pupils and their parents can access support via a website, helpline and web chat. The website receives an average of 2 million visits a month. Schools can choose to commission careers advice and other careers-related support from quality-assured National Careers Service contractors. The National Careers Service contractors are also required to broker relationships between schools, colleges, local communities and employers – working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and Jobcentre Plus where appropriate. The partnerships provide young people with first-hand experience of the world of work.
The National Careers Service is developing a new digital service. Users will be able to explore career paths, develop their own personal profiles and prepare action plans for reaching their potential. Teachers and careers professionals will be able to use the digital service to support their work with young people.
These initiatives are part of a wider package to improve careers advice and guidance for young people. We are also:
The Department for Education is leading cross-government work on careers education, information, advice and guidance, including addressing many of the issues that the Committee has raised. The Department’s investment of £90 million over this Parliament will secure further improvements to the coverage and quality of careers education and guidance for young people. This work will build on the excellent work that The Careers & Enterprise Company has started. In addition, the funding invested in the Opportunity Areas will help us to gain a better understanding of what the challenges are, what causes them and what we can do to address them.
Just as every pupil deserves access to a good school place, every young person, including those who are just managing, must have access to high quality careers education, information, advice and guidance. The changes enacted by this Government will ensure opportunities for everyone, not just the privileged few. These changes will take time to implement, but we are happy to provide more detailed information to the Committee in due course.
1. It is three years since the Education Committee produced a Report raising serious concerns about the quality of careers information, advice and guidance in schools and yet provision remains patchy across England. We are very disappointed that careers advice and guidance is still poor in so many schools: the system has failed too many young people for far too long. The Government’s careers strategy is urgently needed and must include immediate steps to ensure all young people have access to high quality information, advice and guidance. (Paragraph 15)
We welcome the Committee’s recognition that there are some excellent examples of careers provision in schools and agree that there is much more to do to build on existing good practice and incentivise all schools to deliver high quality careers programmes.
We are determined to tackle the patchy state of careers provision and raise its importance and profile in schools. This is vital to ensuring all young people, including the most disadvantaged children and those from families who are just managing, get the careers support, information and opportunities they need and deserve. This will take time to address, but we are making progress. We have closed down the wasteful and ineffective Connexions Service and, as outlined in the introduction, we have taken a number of important steps to support schools with meeting their responsibilities for careers education and guidance. This includes establishing the National Careers Service and The Careers & Enterprise Company and strengthening statutory guidance and accountability for schools.
The Careers & Enterprise Company’s ‘Cold Spots’ report provides insights on where career support is most needed by young people across the country. However other research (e.g. Langley et al., 2014 and Archer and Moote, 2016) has told us that careers provision is often patchy. There are some parts of the country where much is done well and where young people benefit from rich, well-coordinated and timely provision. However, there are also areas of clear need. These areas are often those with high deprivation measures. Coastal areas, rural areas and areas in the north of England often face worse provision, but there is scope for improvement in every area of the country.
The Careers & Enterprise Company’s evidence-led approach means that investment is being made into programmes and schemes that will deliver proven approaches. This investment is weighted towards those areas of the country with the greatest need. Activity is delivered through the national network of enterprise advisers that are matched 1:1 with schools across England. These advisers work with school leaders to help them make sense of the multiplicity of schemes, programmes, tools and information available and to access the most appropriate resources for their local circumstances and individual talents of their pupils.
As set out in the introduction, the Department for Education is investing £90 million in a programme of work over this Parliament that will help all young people to access high quality information, advice and guidance. This includes further funding for The Careers & Enterprise Company to continue the excellent work it has started, and £20 million to increase the number of mentors from the world of work supporting young people at risk of under-achieving. The Company will also be investing £4 million on those young people most in need, including £1 million in the first six Opportunity Areas. This budget is in addition to a range of other Government-led programmes, including £77 million for the National Careers Service in 2016–17. We are developing more detailed proposals and will be happy to update the Committee in due course.
2. An effective school careers programme should include a combination of impartial and independent advice and guidance, careers education embedded in the curriculum, and opportunities for students to engage with employers. We consider the Gatsby Foundation’s eight benchmarks a useful statement of the careers provision to which all schools should be aspiring. The Government’s policy objective should be to incentivise all schools to ensure their careers provision is brought up to a good standard and to hold them to account when they fail to do so. (Paragraph 19)
We welcome this recommendation. We agree that excellent careers education and guidance is about offering an age-appropriate variety of activities, embedded in the curriculum and delivered in collaboration with employers and other partners. This provision should inform young people about their options at crucial times during and after compulsory education. Where this is done well, there is a better chance that a young person will fulfill their potential and have a rewarding and fulfilling working life. In turn, this has direct benefits for the economy and for wider society. The current statutory guidance for schools sets out all the components of an excellent careers programme. The guidance states that schools should have a strategy for the careers guidance they provide to young people, which is embedded within a clear framework linked to outcomes for pupils.
This approach is in line with the Gatsby Foundation’s ‘Good Careers Guidance’ study which was developed on the basis of rigorous national and international research. It concludes that comprehensive careers provision hinges on doing a range of activities, consistently and well. We agree with the Committee that the Gatsby benchmarks set out an effective way to capture the important dimensions of careers guidance for young people. They can offer schools greater clarity on what good careers guidance looks like and how to put this into practice. The Gatsby Foundation and The Careers & Enterprise Company have developed the Compass . This tool offers schools an effective way of understanding how their current careers provision compares to the Gatsby Benchmarks. This will provide schools with a clear set of actions to work towards to achieve the Benchmarks. Schools will have access to an Enterprise Adviser to help them to develop their provision.
The Government agrees with the Committee that it is important to incentivise schools to improve the quality of their careers provision and to subsequently hold them to account. Destination measures provide clear and comparable information on the success of schools and colleges in helping all of their students take qualifications that offer them the best opportunity to continue in education or training. We also recognise that schools need to build more consistent capacity to implement a careers framework. We will look carefully at lessons learnt from the Gatsby Foundation’s pilot of the Benchmarks in the north east of England, and at the work that other organisations have done in this area, as we agree future action during this Parliament and beyond.
3. We welcome the Government’s intention to legislate to require schools to collaborate with training providers and look forward to seeing further details of how it will work in practice. We recommend that the Government set out robust mechanisms to ensure that the new law is well-publicised and properly enforced. (Paragraph 23)
We welcome the Committee’s support for our intention to legislate to require schools to allow access to other providers to inform pupils directly about their education or training offer. All too often the information on post-16 options that young people get from their schools fails to correct – or even reinforces – the impression that technical education and apprenticeships are second best to academic study. We are determined to end this outdated approach. The quality of information that young people receive to inform their decision-making at important transition points will play a vital role in the success of the Government’s plans to reform the technical education system as outlined in the ‘Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education’ and the ‘Post-16 Skills Plan’. The quality of this information – and the timing of it being received by young people – will be crucial to having 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020.
Subject to the will of Parliament, schools will be required by law to collaborate with colleges, university technical colleges and other training providers. This will ensure that young people hear much more consistent messages about the merits of alternatives to academic and school-based routes. Young people will be aware of all the routes to higher skills and into the workplace. We do not expect teachers, with all the other responsibilities they have, to provide information on the full range of routes. This is about bringing in other providers who are better placed to talk about their education and training offers. It is something that good schools already do well, but Ofsted found that schools often have a narrow view of these routes and many are poor at promoting them.
We agree with the Committee that new legislation should be publicised and properly enforced. We will update existing careers statutory guidance to ensure that schools are clear about what they need to do to comply with any new legal requirements, prior to them coming into force. We will also work closely with key stakeholders to ensure schools and other education and training providers understand how the proposed new law affects them.
We will look carefully at the issue of effective enforcement. Any new legislation will be scrutinised carefully during its passage through Parliament and we will make available details of our enforcement proposals once agreed. In the meantime, one important way that schools will be held to account is through the inclusion of destination measures as a headline measure in the 2016 Key Stage 4 and 16–18 performance tables. Destination measures form part of the evidence that can be taken into account during Ofsted inspections and are increasingly being seen as a key tool in assessing how well schools prepare their students to make a successful transition into the next stage of education or training, or employment. Any new legislation in this area would influence schools to focus even more strongly on progression and ensure that all pupils are aware of the full range of opportunities available to them.
4. We welcome the increased emphasis Ofsted has placed on careers provision but agree with the Minister for Skills that it should be downgrading schools that do not provide effective information, advice and guidance. (Paragraph 26)
5. We recommend that Ofsted introduce a specific judgment on careers information, advice and guidance for secondary schools, and set clear criteria for making these judgments. The Common Inspection Framework should be amended to make clear that a secondary school whose careers provision is judged as “requires improvement” or “inadequate” cannot be judged to be “outstanding” overall; likewise, a secondary school should be unable to receive an overall judgment of “good” if its careers provision is judged to be “inadequate”. (Paragraph 27)
As part of standard (Section 5) Ofsted school inspections, inspectors make graded judgements on the effectiveness of leadership and management; the quality of teaching, learning and assessment; pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare; and pupils’ outcomes. Matters relating to careers provision feature within three of these four judgements. First, in judging leadership and management, inspectors take account of the leadership of the curriculum and the impact of the curriculum in preparing pupils for their future. Second, in judging pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare, inspectors consider the impact of impartial careers guidance. Finally, in judging outcomes, inspectors consider information about pupils’ destinations. Destinations data will become an even more significant part of school accountability in future, as it will feature as a headline measure in the 2016 Key Stage 4 and 16–18 performance tables.
The Government believes that the current inspection grading structure provides for appropriate coverage of careers provision, and there are no plans to introduce a specific judgement on this. In addition, it is important that, in reaching judgements on the four key areas, inspectors are able to balance their considerations on a range of aspects to form an overall view rather than this being determined by one specific aspect of a school’s provision. This is why, with the exception of safeguarding, the evaluation schedule for inspection avoids the use of limiting criterion. There are therefore no plans for the quality of careers provision alone to determine inspection judgements.
As the Committee has recognised, Ofsted has sharpened its approach to inspection of careers provision. This is welcome. Ofsted, through its training and communications with its inspectors, will continue to remind inspectors of the importance of careers provision to ensure that it is consistently given appropriate attention within school inspections. In addition, there will continue to be opportunities outside of routine inspection for Ofsted to examine careers provision. For example, Ofsted is currently conducting a thematic survey on enterprise, employability and employer engagement, which will draw on evidence about the quality of information, advice and guidance. The report is due for publication this year.
6. We invite the Government, in its response, to set out a comprehensive plan for improving destination data, including the timescales for doing so. This plan should include steps to make the data available in a more timely way and to ensure that they cover a longer period of time, and give more details on how the data will draw on information held by other Government departments. The Government should also consider how best to present its destination data, to mitigate the risk that schools are judged primarily on the number of their students going onto higher education. (Paragraph 32)
We are pleased that the Committee’s report acknowledges the value of destination data in encouraging schools to give greater priority to careers information, advice and guidance. Schools and colleges play a crucial role in preparing young people for the next stage of their education, training or employment. Destination measures provide clear and comparable information and are increasingly being seen as a key tool in assessing how well schools and colleges prepare their students to make a successful transition into the next stage of education or training, or employment. The measures report on progress to the full range of education and training destinations, not just higher education, as we agree with the Committee that success can take a number of forms.
The Department for Education is improving destination data and making it more widely available in number of ways:
In addition, on 4 August 2016 the DfE published the first statistical working paper on ‘Improvements to data on destinations of key stage 5 students’. This uses new information on employment and benefits from other government departments, including HMRC and DWP, to improve our understanding of what students go on to do in the year after they finish Key Stage 5 study.
7. We recommend that the Government, in its careers strategy, take steps to simplify the delivery of its careers policy at the national level. It should put a single Minister and a single Department in charge of co-ordinating careers provision for all ages, and set out how it plans to rationalise the number of Government-funded organisations delivering careers programmes. (Paragraph 44)
8. We recommend that all Government-funded careers initiatives, including the Jobcentre Plus support for schools scheme, be brought under the umbrella of The Careers & Enterprise Company. We further recommend that the Government consult on transferring responsibility for the National Careers Service from the Skills Funding Agency to The Careers & Enterprise Company. We also encourage The Careers & Enterprise Company to set out how, in addition to its existing programmes, it plans to support the provision of independent and impartial careers guidance in schools. (Paragraph 45)
Transferring the functions of the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in respect of higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and skills to the Department for Education will mean that the Government can take a comprehensive, end-to-end view of skills and education, supporting people from early years through to postgraduate study and work.
We agree with the Committee that the careers landscape is complex and that there is a need for effective co-ordination of Government initiatives. Locating careers advice for all ages under a single Minister in a single Department will offer new opportunities to adopt a more coherent approach.
We are not currently minded to transfer responsibility for the National Careers Service to The Careers & Enterprise Company or to bring all Government-funded careers initiatives, including the Jobcentre Plus Support for Schools scheme, under the Company’s umbrella. These organisations have different roles and have operated successfully together to date. We want to build on current arrangements, ensuring even better join-up at a local level so that young people get the best possible support available to them.
The Careers & Enterprise Company was established with a very clear remit to help schools and colleges develop closer links with local businesses, ensuring employers play a leading role in preparing young people for the world of work. The Company is taking a lead role in transforming the provision of careers, enterprise and employer engagement experiences for young people. It acts as an umbrella organisation to help employers, schools and colleges and other organisations navigate their way through the existing landscape.
The primary purpose of the National Careers Service is to support adults in England by providing free, up-to-date, impartial information and advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market. Through the delivery of careers advice and guidance, the National Careers Service helps people realise their full potential and supports social mobility by working with individuals to motivate them and develop their understanding of the full range of options open to them – whatever their background or circumstances.
We have taken great care during the rollout of the Jobcentre Plus Support for Schools initiative to consult closely with The Careers & Enterprise Company (and other organisations such as the National Careers Service and Education Business Partnerships) to ensure the offer to schools adds value and does not augment the difficulties schools already face in securing access to independent careers guidance.
At a national level we have: worked with the Company on identifying deprivation hotspots so our programmes are directed at those localities most in need; agreed a strategy for employer engagement; agreed the inclusion of Jobcentre Plus Support within the toolkit used by Enterprise Advisers and Enterprise Coordinators; and shared evaluation strategies. And at a local level, Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches going into schools have liaised closely with the Company colleagues to agree which schools should be offered support and to ensure no confusion could arise over our respective roles – often to the extent of arranging joint approaches to schools to emphasise the linked nature of the support.
We also have long-standing relationships with an extensive network of employers throughout the country. Many of these employers want to engage with schools and look to us to facilitate this. Adding an extra level of oversight may get in the way and confuse employers.
On the Committee’s point about The Careers & Enterprise Company being involved in supporting the provision of independent and impartial careers guidance in schools, it is important to note that one of the Company’s core aims is to increase the level of employer engagement in schools and colleges across England. However, the Company is leading programmes which have a wider impact, including the development of the Compass self-assessment tool described in our response to recommendation two. The Company is also working collaboratively within schools to address their dedicated careers resources.
9. We support the merger of the Quality in Careers and matrix Standards and recommend that the Government support the establishment and promotion of a single quality brand covering schools, colleges, careers services providers and careers websites, with appropriate criteria for the different types of organisation to meet. As part of this work, it should also encourage the bringing together of the 12 different awards recognised by the Quality in Careers Standard into a single award. (Paragraph 52)
10. We recommend that the Government, once the new quality brand is in place, amend statutory guidance to require all schools to work towards being accredited under this brand, and only to use careers services from organisations holding it. (Paragraph 53)
The Government’s supplementary written evidence to the Committee set out our rationale for not merging the Quality in Careers Standard and the matrix Standard. The two standards have clearly defined purposes and perform two very different roles.
The matrix Standard quality-assures an organisation’s approach to planning, resourcing, delivering and evaluating its Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG). It is used within a variety of contexts including careers companies, Higher and Further Education, sole trading careers advisers, training providers, third sector support organisations, prisons, trade unions and community development provision. All National Careers Service contractors are required to achieve the matrix Standard. The careers statutory guidance directs schools to an online register of organisations which hold the matrix Standard to assist them in securing external IAG support.
Quality Awards for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) focus on the careers programme provided by a school, college or work-based learning provider. DfE recommends that schools should work towards a Quality Award as an effective means of carrying out a self-review and evaluation of the school’s programme. The Quality in Careers Standard was developed in response to a report published by the Careers Profession Task Force in 2010 which recommended the establishment of an overarching kite mark to validate Careers Quality Awards. The Quality in Careers Consortium oversees this and is independent of Government.
These roles are well understood across the sector and many organisations are already investing in them, with over 2000 organisations certified to the matrix Standard and over 1100 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers in England holding, or working towards, a Quality Award. We therefore believe to merge the standards at this time would create a detrimental level of instability in the system.
We do, however, acknowledge that the call for greater clarity and some rationalisation is understandable. We intend to explore with the organisations involved how we might present a clearer picture to school leaders, governors and others.
11. We recommend that the Government statutory guidance is amended to require those delivering advice and guidance in schools to hold, at a minimum, a relevant level 6 qualification. (Paragraph 56)
Pupils can gain confidence and motivation from the opportunity to explore career ideas through individual, face-to-face discussions with a range of people, including careers professionals. We trust schools to know what is best for their pupils and we do not mandate a specific qualification so as to leave schools space to tailor what they offer and who delivers it.
We recognise that schools benefit from some support in choosing high-quality careers professionals to work with. The careers statutory guidance sets out the main qualifications for careers professionals: the Qualification in Career Development (which has replaced the Qualification in Career Guidance) and the Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development. We provide information in the statutory guidance about the register of careers professionals, developed by the Career Development Institute, which schools can use to search for a career development professional who can deliver a particular service or activity. A condition for inclusion on the register is to hold or be working towards a level 6 careers qualification.
The Government wants schools to build the skills and expertise required to plan strategically for the provision of careers education and guidance, embedding careers and employability skills in the curriculum and engaging external partners in the delivery of high quality, inspirational support. In addition to the role of careers professionals it is also important to examine the role of governors, schools leaders and teachers in delivering effective careers education, information, advice and guidance. Teach First’s work set out in the report, ‘Careers education in the classroom: The role of teachers in making young people work ready’ is a good example of the valuable work being done in this area.
12. Investing in good quality careers advice can help to tackle the skills misalignment by making young people aware of the opportunities available in the job market and helping them to match these opportunities to their skills and interests. Failing to invest will only exacerbate the skills mismatch, which in turn will have a negative impact on the country’s productivity. (Paragraph 60)
13. In our view, accurate labour market information is vital to providing young people and their parents with guidance about available routes and salaries; it is also important to recognise the key role careers advisers play in helping young to understand this information and how the opportunities in the jobs market fit with their skills and aspirations. (Paragraph 61)
14. The Committee is disappointed that the consistently high quality analysis and advice provided by the UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UKCES) is to be lost. We welcome the Government’s commitment to continue operating the LMI for All dataset. We trust that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will build upon the good work of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. We recommend that the Government set out in its response how it will ensure that LMI data published in future will match the high standards achieved by UKCES. We recommend that in its careers strategy, the Government set out its plans for further improving the quality and usefulness of the data. (Paragraph 62)
We agree with the Committee’s comments and recommendations on the importance of investing in good quality careers advice in addressing the skills mismatch and the need to make accurate labour market information available.
The ‘Post-16 Skills Plan’ outlines the most radical reform of post-16 education since the introduction of A Levels almost 70 years ago, and will transform the technical education landscape. These are reforms for the long term. Our approach is consistent with best practice as seen in countries like Germany, Australia and Norway, and will place our system on par with the best in the world.
Our ambition is to prepare individuals for employment in occupations which require the acquisition of both a substantial body of technical knowledge and a set of practical skills valued by industry. The new system will be high status and should become the clear pathway of choice for pupils hoping for a career in these occupations. The reforms will build on the excellent progress we have already made in reforming apprenticeships, which are now driven by the skills and knowledge employers want.
We are continuing to develop our labour market information and improve our understanding of the skills gaps in the economy. For example, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills recently jointly funded a research project run by Ecorys to understand the digital skills gaps in the UK economy. The research ‘Digital Skills for the UK Economy’ was published in January 2016, and pulled together a wide range of information on the UK’s digital skills needs, starting from school level to the role of employers. This data is used to inform policy to address skills gaps and better promote the importance of knowledge and skills in specific areas.
We expect schools, through their careers guidance to pupils, to explain the value of finding out about the labour market and support young people and their parents to access, use and interpret labour market information. We recognise that expert advice or guidance can play a role in this.
The DfE is currently conducting a programme of work to ensure that the right data is available to support pupils in making better education and career choices. In line with this we have recommissioned ‘LMI for all’ this year and it will be carried out by the research contractors Institute for Employment Research (IER). In parallel, our work on the Longitudinal Education Outcomes dataset (LEO) brings together pupil data from schools, FE and HE providers with destinations data on income and employment rates from DWP and HMRC. These data will be used to provide improved data on education and career outcomes and earnings. It will also give policymakers a deeper understanding of how students progress from different educational and vocational routes into employment.
The programme also includes research and analysis on employers’ demand for skills and training. The Employer Perceptives Survey and the Employer Skills Survey will continue and we will be reviewing their content and outputs to ensure that they are best placed to meet current and future analytical needs.
15. We recommend that the Government take steps to ensure that all Local Enterprise Partnerships have the capacity and are encouraged to provide up-to-date good quality labour market information to schools, college and careers professionals within their local area. The Careers & Enterprise Company could be charged with supporting LEPs to improve their data provision. Money saved by the rationalisation of national careers organisations we proposed earlier in this Report could be used to boost the capacity of LEPs for this and other roles in support of careers provision. (Paragraph 65)
Devolution is an opportunity for local areas to take more responsibility to promote effective coordinated responses to local labour market needs rather than depending on leadership from Whitehall. We agree that Government has a role to play in supporting local areas to take on this responsibility.
The National Careers Service is designed and delivered to respond to local priorities and support economic growth. By delivering an integrated service it is able to meet the needs of people with complex issues and benefit from economies of scale. We already have requirements in place that specify that National Careers Service area-based prime contractors must work with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and others to make connections with local business, employers and voluntary organisations to provide good labour market information as well as introducing them to schools to provide support to the careers education curriculum. They are also contracted to make sure the advice they give is underpinned by relevant and up-to-date labour market information that takes account of LEP local priorities, including the sectors that are growing and the requirements of local employers. National Careers Service contractors are also required to share with young people, adults and local partners details of careers events and campaigns in their geographic area.
The Careers & Enterprise Company is continuing to help schools deliver against all the benchmarks, working closely with the LEPs and other interested parties. The Company’s experience is that LEPs are generally good repositories of up-to-date labour market information. They do, however, agree there is potential to promote its use more effectively in guiding career decisions. The Company is currently looking at how it may be able to develop its activities in this area.
16. Employers have an important role to play in careers education but there have been longstanding challenges in building links between employers on the one hand and schools and colleges on the other. We welcome The Careers & Enterprise Company’s work to overcome these challenges, in particular through its Enterprise Adviser scheme. It is important, however, that employer engagement is seen as a complement to, rather than a substitute for, impartial, independent careers advice and guidance. Young people who take part in employer engagement programmes should have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences with an impartial careers adviser. (Paragraph 72)
17. We welcome the involvement of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the Enterprise Adviser scheme. We encourage all LEPs to play their full role in brokering links between employers and schools. We recommend that, for its part, The Careers & Enterprise Company ensure that the scheme leaves plenty of room for local flexibility and that it supports, rather than duplicates, any existing work being carried out by the LEP. (Paragraph 73)
The Government and The Careers & Enterprise Company are pleased that the Committee is supportive of the Company’s work to build links between employers, schools and colleges. We agree with the Committee’s recommendations.
We also know that increasing young people’s contact with the world of work can have clear beneficial effects. Research shows that young adults who have greater levels of contact with employers whilst at school are significantly less likely to become NEET and can expect, when in full-time employment, to earn up to 18% more than peers who had no such workplace exposure. But only 39% of schools are currently providing young people from year 7 onwards with at least one employer encounter a year.
Employer engagement is fundamental to effective, high-quality careers and enterprise programmes, whether that is through direct 1:1 mentoring relationships or by offering work experience and more exposure to the world of work. This provides young people with opportunities to understand work through direct experience, which they can then bring into their personal reflections on the right direction and choices for them as they work with their schools’ careers advisers.
The Government agrees with the Committee that employer engagement is an important element of a comprehensive careers and enterprise programme. A range of other individuals including careers professionals, mentors, alumni and education and training providers can also play an important role.
The Careers & Enterprise Company has ensured that the Enterprise Adviser Network allows for sufficient local flexibility. The design of the Network is predicated on the LEPs tailoring locally to deliver locally-relevant solutions. The Careers & Enterprise Company recognises that the mix of provision, employer engagement and resources must match local needs and circumstances, otherwise it will not be taken up effectively. Governance is broad-based, to include local business providers and educators, and is overseen locally. This ensures that provision is streamlined where it is complex and stimulated in those areas where it is scarce.
18. We recommend that the Government work with employers and schools to produce a plan to ensure that all students at Key Stage 4 have the opportunity to take part in meaningful work experience. It should also ensure that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that work experience is being effectively delivered through Key Stage 5 study plans. (Paragraph 79)
The Government agrees with the Committee that meaningful employer engagement is useful for young people, both at Key Stage 4 and at Key Stage 5.
Experience of work is an important part of a young person’s education. At Key Stage 4, schools have the freedom to choose which types of encounters are most appropriate. A traditional ‘work experience’ placement may be of greatest benefit to many pupils, but may not be appropriate for meeting the individual needs of all pupils. Other activities involving employers, such as careers insights, mentoring and work tasters, are crucial in giving young people the skills they need to succeed. As described in the introduction, there is recent research which demonstrates that people with higher levels of school-age employer contacts are likely to earn more in full-time employment.
We are also clear that work experience and work placements have a vital role to play for post-16 pupils to ensure they have sufficient employer engagement. In August 2013 the Government reformed the post-16 curriculum and funding system to incentivise education and training providers to offer high quality work experience and work placements to young people as part of 16–19 study programmes.
As part of the Technical Education reforms outlined in the ‘Post-16 Skills Plan’, every 16–18 year old pupil following a two-year college-based technical education programme will be entitled to a substantial, high-quality work placement in their second year. Successful completion of this work placement should be a requirement for full certification at the end of the study programme. This will enable pupils to gain practical skills and behaviours required for the workplace.
We are providing valuable support for schools and colleges through The Careers & Enterprise Company, which has been tasked with increasing the level of employer input into schools and colleges. We continue to believe, however, that it is right that schools and colleges have the freedom to decide how and when they provide pupils with the experience of work.
There is consensus between the Government and the Committee on a number of issues and, in many areas, action is already in train to address them. In other areas we trust we have given a full account of the evidence and the underpinning rationale for our decisions. Following recent Ministerial and machinery of government changes, we have an opportunity to review the Government’s work to improve careers education and guidance, and we are happy to share further information with the Committee once a programme of work has been finalised. We would like to thank the Committee for its careful consideration of the range of issues affecting the quality of careers provision for young people and for its subsequent report and recommendations.
1 Hooley, T., Matheson, J., & Watts, A.G. (2014). Advancing Ambitions: The role of career guidance in supporting social mobility. London: Sutton Trust.
2 Mann, A., & Percy, C. (2014). Employer engagement in British secondary education: wage earning outcomes experienced by young adults. Journal of education and Work, 27(5), pp. 496–523.
3 Education Committee (2013) Careers guidance for young people: The impact of the new duty on schools
4 The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2016). Joining the Dots: 2016 First Annual Roundup. [Online]
5 The Careers & Enterprise Company (2016) Moments of Choice [Online]
6 Careers & Enterprise Company (2015), Prioritisation Indicators and Cold Spots [Online]
7 Gatsby Charitable Foundation. (2013). Good Career Guidance. London: Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
8 Careers & Enterprise Company (2016)
9 DfE (2016), Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education [Online]
10 BIS/DfE (2016), Post-16 Skills Plan [Online]
11 DfE (2016) Improvements to destinations of key stage 5 students: 2014 [Online]
12 DfE/BIS (2016), Supplementary written evidence [Online]
13 DfE (2010), Towards a Strong Careers Profession [Online]
14 Teach First (2015), Careers education in the classroom: The role of teachers in making young people work ready [online]
15 BIS/DfE (2016), Post-16 Skills Plan [Online]
16 Ecorys (2016), Digital Skills for the UK Economy [Online]
17 Mann, A., & Percy, C. (2014). Employer engagement in British secondary education: wage earning outcomes experienced by young adults. Journal of education and Work, 27(5), pp. 496–523.
18 Gatsby Charitable Foundation. (2013). Good Career Guidance. London: Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
26 October 2016