Central Careers Hub

MPs interrogation of CEC shows the need for Local Careers Services

Andy Gardner 17th May 2018

“It’s not Rocket Science, and it’s about 20 years since I was Chairman of the careers company in Tyneside, and technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, but we had outcomes data for 10,000 young people, and we knew where they were and what cohort they were in.” Ian Mearns MP

On the morning of Wednesday 16th May 2018, the Education Parliamentary committee interrogated Claudia Harris and Christine Hodgson from the Careers and Enterprise Company about their work (they probably needed a stiff drink and a lie down afterwards as it was so unforgiving).

The questioning was rigorous and many of the comments were extremely critical.  Below are some examples of what they had to deal with.

A constant throughout the questioning and comments, was a lack of detail about outcomes and knowledge about what young people are doing.  Forgive me for stating the obvious, but until 2011 we had a machinery for tracking and helping young people on a practical, one-to-one level and that was the Careers Service/Connexions Service.  See this report from 2015, which shows a clear link between those local authorities that had kept open local public Careers Offices and them having much better tracking of NEET data and better helping NEET data compared to those local authorities who had closed their public service.

Trudy Harrison MP

“To me it would seem like a fairly simple project to understand where the highest levels of youth unemployment are, and that would be the target area, and the measure of your success would be that the measure of youth employment had improved.  Do you have any evidence of that?”

“What is a cold spot? How have the number of NEETs reduced in the areas that you are working? If you don’t know that, then that really concerns me?”

Lucy Allan MP

“You know that the young people that you have helped have ended up in employment, is that right?  So at the moment, over the last three years, where you have engaged with young people through third parties, you haven’t followed where that young person has gone? Surely these young people could be tracked quite easily?  How do you measure the quality of those employer encounters?  Who else is performing a scrutiny role of your activities?”

Emma Hardy

“Why do you keep turning down money for groups like National Careers Week who are so successful?”

Robert Halfon

“Huge focus on inputs and not on what happens at the end.”

“These are just Think Tank reports that any organisation could do.”

“You are not clear on transparency issues.”

“I find this incomprehensible, why decisions are made and how they are made.”

“From all parties on this committee there is clear frustration with some of the work you do, though I’m sure there are some good things you do.”

Lucy Powell

“You are not quite sure what you are for, are you a delivery organisation like the National Careers Service or are you like the Education Endowment Foundation who are there to support best practice. There is a sense that this has become an overbloated Quango that is not doing either of these jobs particularly well”

“You can’t even come to this committee and explain the impact of what you are doing?”

“Should your salaries be benchmarked against the NCS?”

“Do you think OFSTED should be looking at what you are doing?”

“I don’t think you can convey what your actual purpose is and what the impact is!”

You don’t have anyone on your board who can drill down into your data.

Ian Mearns

“I’m not convinced by anything I’ve heard this morning that we know what the outcomes of the young people you are dealing with are!”

“An encounter means what?”

“Why are you and Gatsby both producing guides on how to implement the benchmarks?”

“How can we properly assess the outcomes for the money that has been invested in this programme are delivering, unless we know that there are tangible benefits for the young people that are engaged in these programmes.”

“It’s not Rocket Science, and it’s about 20 years since I was Chairman of the careers company in Tyneside, and technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now, but we had outcomes data for 10,000 young people, and we knew where they were and what cohort they were in.”

Comments 9

  1. I have worked as a careers adviser since 1994, through the demise of the traditional Careers Service, through Connexions (which, whilst not perfect, was a great service, certainly in the area I worked in), then the demise of this into nothingness. Now – it is becoming blindingly obvious that suddenly whipping away careers services has failed a whole generation of young people, in terms of aiding direction and employment levels – something that any one involved with young people would have said was the most obvious and immediate outcome. And we need a report to tell us this? Now, and finally, a Careers Strategy has been introduced to try to tackle this – but what about all those young people between 2011 and now who have been very badly let down? I was furious at the demise of Connexions/Careers because of the effect it had on young people, on not having access to any form of real guidance. Because it was all then piled onto schools, without any extra funding to put things in place. Because those not in education found it harder to find anyone to help them. For a multitude of reasons. I could go on as it has been a travesty. We need a good careers service, good ways of working to help young people to find a path, access guidance and to succeed onto their next step, or steps. Now we have to start to claw our way back and make sure the next generation of young people are not failed in such a way again.

    1. Hurrah. At last. As a Careers Adviser of some 20 years, I too have witnessed a demise of the Careers Service, punished with the Connexions agenda which stopped the excellent Careers work. Having worked extremely hard to shape this agenda into something tangible that meant something to every young person, with exacting targets, it was soul destroying to see it so flippantly pushed into the bin with nothing to replace it. Working in a secondary school with all the pressures that teaching staff face everyday, it is very hard to keep the focus on future outcomes for students firmly in everyone’s mind. Fortunately, for me, my school is very committed and employs me full time. Every school needs, at least, one full time, fully qualified Careers Adviser. The National Careers Service needs better funding so that it can help and support the Careers Education, Information, Advice and Careers Guidance agenda to get back to some form of quality.

  2. I quite agree with everything you have said. I have worked in careers guidance since 1990 and have seen many changes over the years. Now many schools are employing their own careers advisers why doesn’t the government just allocate a budget to schools to do this properly so as to attract experienced advisers and to pay them the level of wage they deserve! I love working in careers guidance but I certainly do it for the love of helping young people and certainly not the money!

    1. Post

      As we know there is no money in Careers. We do it for the love of the job. We have had the most extreme form of Social Darwinism applied to us. If we aren’t good, the schools don’t want us.

  3. Having been part of the National Careers Council for the first two years of its existence, I am used to hearing these questions from politicians. They didn’t get it then ( with honourable exception of John Hayes who set it up. He understood the way we were short changed by Connexions and the potential for integrated guidance with careers education. For me, their obsession with impact measurement is short term and ultimately subjective. We have an opportunity with the development of Apprenticeships to work with Industry to show the effectiveness of guidance when integrated with the curriuculum.and away from the limits of EBACC. We are not helped by many schools who have their own agenda and still distrust Careers work.

  4. I can only echo the sentiments of my colleagues as I too have been a Careers Adviser for over 20 years and watched with dismay when the system that we had in place through Connexions (which we were improving on incrementally) was pulled out from under our feet by people who seemingly had no knowledge of the long term impact of this action. So many incredibly knowledgeable people were lost in the continuous rounds of redundancies and re-shuffling and then (predictably) a bright spark somewhere in a cabinet office (?) concluded that there was a lack of quality careers guidance – hardly surprising? Thankfully I too worked in a school with foresight and have been employed there full time since the demise of the service as we knew it. I know exactly where all my pupils are each September, have tracked and supported each one and they are welcome to come back for further advice after they have left if needed. This model works well as it gives me the opportunity to offer continuity, pupils can see me at any time and I am a known and respected member of staff with access to and involvement with pupils and the pastoral and inclusion agenda’s in the school. I am also able to work across the curriculum with colleagues to embed careers work in their lessons and provide a structured careers programme. My concern is that having been almost eradicated will our roles now be considered to have insufficient importance by the general public to be properly funded? My responsibilities in school demand and command work and salary at a management level and I am not sure that funding would be made available to allow this nationally.

  5. I agree with pretty much all of this. The committee questions are all strongly reflective of my experience. However the committee are politicians and I’m pretty sure the destruction of the national adviser network was done by politicians. Maybe they should be asking their friends in parliament what they are going to do about it.

    1. Post

      Yes it’s beyond comprehension what has been done.
      Best of luck for Thursday, hope it’s not too stressful for you and your students

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