The government has launched an independent careers advice scheme called the Enterprise Adviser programme with the aim of improving careers advice services in schools across the UK.
The programme will be led by Christine Hodgson, the executive chair of Capgemini UK, and aims to connect employers with schools to provide high quality careers advice.
Hodgson was appointed chair of independent “umbrella” body, Careers and Enterprise Company, in December which was formed by Nicky Morgan Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.
The body was formed after Morgan received a grilling over the coalition government’s inadequate careers advice service in schools. At the time Morgan said she hoped the independent body will begin to address critics concerns.
The Enterprise Adviser programme has been introduced by the body to close the gap that former education secretary, Michael Gove, left when he scrapped careers service Connexions with the responsibility falling upon schools for the first time without any extra funding.
The programme will focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), in addition to a range of other careers, in a bid to close the skills gap.
At the launch of the programme Sam Gyimah, Member of Parliament for East Surrey Childcare and Education Minister, said: “For too long the careers provision in schools has not been taken as seriously as it should be – instead, treated with disdain, as a kind of relic from the days before the internet put the whole world at our fingertips.”
“Teenagers’ futures being reduced to a 20-question online quiz, a one-off meeting with a careers adviser in year 11 that feels more like a chore than an opportunity – in other words, a total lack of practical advice and personal support.”
Gyimah highlighted an Ofsted study which revealed that only one in five schools give effect guidance to year nine, ten and 11 pupils and said: “It’s no wonder that 80% of employers think that young people don’t leave school equipped with the right skills for the workplace.
“Imagine trying to study for your GCSEs, A levels or even your degree without having any idea about what your future might hold, and with no idea how the qualifications you’re working towards can shape and influence the rest of your life.”
“But I also know that good careers provision is about so much more than directing people into specific jobs. It’s about providing that initial spark of enthusiasm and inspiring pupils to broaden their horizons – to think about the world outside the school gates,” he added.
Gyimah mentioned how fast careers change, especially in a digital world, and stressed how important it is for careers advisors to stay up to date on the changing world of work. However, he noted the challenges of trying to predict future jobs and so suggested that young people should be equipped with the skills needed to navigate the changing jobs market: “After all, how can we tell a 13-year-old exactly what they should be doing by the time they’re 30 when we don’t even know what jobs will exist then? Ten years ago, we didn’t know what a mobile app developer was. But now, coders are a hot commodity, working in some of the most high-profile and creative industries in the market.
“What young people really need today are the building blocks to help them navigate a jobs market which is changing at a more rapid pace than ever before.”
He explained that the Enterprise Adviser Programme aims to bring people and organisations together to enable every child, regardless of which school they attend, to receive quality careers advice: “That’s what this ‘one nation’ government is all about – spreading educational excellence everywhere and making sure that every young person across the country can unlock every ounce of their potential.”
He said that the careers advice should teach young people the “rules of the game” such as how to apply for the right job and how to impress in the professional world.
“I’ve never met a single young person who wants to end up unqualified and under-employed – and yet one young person not in education, employment or training, wasting their abilities and aspirations, is one too many,” he added.
“So if we’re going to get careers advice right, if we’re going to harness the talent of the next generation and help young people make sensible choices about their future education and employment, we all need to raise our game.”