Exclusive: Students will struggle ‘to make right choices’ between academic and vocational routes
The government’s much-vaunted careers advice programme will fail to reach thousands of young people despite claims the most disadvantaged children in England will benefit, councils have warned.
Too many students are at risk of making poor career decisions that could have a “devastating” impact on their futures and worsen skills gaps, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
The government’s careers hubs scheme, which aims to provide guidance on jobs, will only reach a fraction of students as only 1,300 schools and colleges are involved in the programme, councils say.
The Department for Education (DfE) previously said the careers hubs – which bring together secondary schools and colleges in the same area with local businesses – would transform careers education in the most disadvantaged areas.
But councillor Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said many young people, including those in disadvantaged groups, will miss out on much-needed high-quality careers advice.
“This is a disservice to them. This leaves too many youngsters making unsuitable career decisions, which have a potentially devastating impact on their future,” he said.
Many young people are likely to miss out on vital guidance that will undermine their ability to make the right choices between academic and vocational routes, the organisation says.
The LGA is calling on the government to hand over funding and control of employment and skills schemes to local areas so pupils can be matched with employment routes within local communities.
They say localised support would enable councils to develop an all-age careers service, which would help reduce the number of young people not in education, employment and training.
“Two years ago the government’s Careers Strategy pledged to provide an improved service that supports people of all ages. Instead, careers provision in England is becoming ever more fragmented and complex,” Cllr Bentley said.
The first wave of 20 careers hubs was launched last year and now the government is rolling out the second wave of a further 19.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Young people need high-quality independent careers advice but this important area has not received enough attention from the government.
“Schools and colleges were told to provide these services without sufficient funding to do so or access to wider support.”
He added: “Careers hubs are a belated attempt to address this situation but there is a long way to go, and the provision is nowhere near what it should be.”
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The LGA is right to say that many young people are not getting the advice and guidance they need to make the best education and career choices.
“I’d go further in worrying about the lack of work experience many have in their early teens and also about the services available to adults. More than anything, this is because of a lack of investment from government; schools and colleges could do so much more with better funding.”
The DfE has been approached for comment.