Discussion in the House of Commons about careers

In recent debate in the House of Commons Labour MP Barry Sheerman said

This is the only party political bit of my speech: the Government seem to have given up on careers information, guidance and advice. They have more or less said, “If you want that sort of thing, it is up to a school or you do it on the internet.” I was on the Skills Commission inquiry into careers information, advice and guidance, and about 17% of young people were using the internet to access such information then—that percentage is probably in the 20s now. All the research shows that the key to getting through the pattern of complex choices is face-to-face guidance from a human being with experience, knowledge and networks.

I recently talked to a head of history in a school, who said, “I have just been asked to look after careers. I have no history of knowing about careers. I’ve had two interviews, which said, ‘Go into that classroom and show us you can teach.’ I know nothing about choosing a career, but I’ve been asked to teach careers.” Careers guidance is an important profession, but we have got rid of the system. If we do not do something about that, we will be in grave danger.

To which Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock replied

The only point of partisan contention was the rather disappointing part about information, advice and guidance. The new duty on schools to provide independent and impartial advice, the age range for which has since been extended, only came into force in September and is now in place. It did not replace a system. The Connexions system was widely regarded as a failure. It is incumbent on us all to ensure that the information, advice and guidance duty on schools is in place. Misrepresenting it, as the hon. Gentleman did—for party political reasons, he said—is unhelpful, because this is an area with broad party political support.

…There is a duty on schools to provide independent and impartial advice. Ofsted is conducting a thematic review of how that is being implemented, which will report in the summer, and I shall look closely at its outcomes.

I’ll leave readers to judge which of these is the most accurate description of the current situation with respect to careers provision in schools.


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