Education Select Committee warns of problems with “the quality, independence and impartiality”

Strategies to tackle youth unemployment in Cumbria have been dealt another blow with the publication of the Education Select Committee’s latest report on the current provision of careers advice.

The Education Select Committee warns of problems with “the quality, independence and impartiality” of current careers advice and believes “the Government’s decision to transfer responsibility for careers guidance to schools is regrettable”.

Speaking on behalf of Inspira, Cumbria’s leading youth work provider, Mark Bowman, CEO said, “The report simply highlights what we as an organisation have been saying for some time now.

Impartial careers advice and guidance available to all young people and delivered by trained professionals is essential to help them make the right decisions for their future. Given current factors such as the raising of the participation age, the expanding range of educational choices available and high levels of youth unemployment – impartial, professional careers advice is even more critical.”

The report also states “vulnerable young people in particular need careers guidance support”. In direct contrast to these findings, Cumbria County Council is proposing to cut a further £1.1 million from its Children’s Services budget which is allocated to Advice and Guidance for vulnerable young people.

Mary Bousted, leader of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “The reality is that schools aren’t run by magicians – if they don’t have the time, money or appropriately trained staff, but have a multitude of other pressures because of Ofsted inspections, it is no surprise they are struggling to offer the careers guidance pupils need.”

Cumbrian businesses also support the report’s view. A spokesperson from the Chamber of Commerce, said, “Too many young people are missing out and employers are facing recruitment difficulties because young people aren’t aware of the range of career choices and don’t understand what they involve. It is vital that Information, Advice and Guidance is provided absolutely impartially, by organisations that don’t have a vested interest in channelling young people in a particular direction.”

Inspira predicts that if the Cumbria County Council proposed cuts to targeted advice and guidance goes ahead, combined with the inadequately resourced statutory duty on schools, more young people in Cumbria will become NEET, which could cost the public purse an estimated £56,000 per person. ᵢ

ᵢ Figure taken from York University’s research paper: Estimating the Lifetime Cost of NEET:16-18 Year Olds Not in Education, Employment or Training. These figures are based on 2008 data.