The House of Lords Committee on Social Mobility has just released its report.
For an easy summary of this you might want to have a quick watch of this film which was made to accompany the report.
Or you can read the full report.
The report covers some very interesting ground. Whereas many previous discussions about social mobility have focused on getting working class young people to elite universities, this pulls back and takes a broader view. For example expressing some concerns about the inequity in education funding between those who follow an HE route and those who do not.
The report focuses on those who do not follow an HE route, but who also don’t become NEET. It argues that these young people in the middle are poorly served by current policy. It is these young people who should be able to benefit from apprenticeships, but, as the report points out only 6% of 16-18 year olds currently follow this path.
We have found that the current policy structure means a large number of young people do not have good options, and are not supported to make a choice which works for them and is successful.
The report summarises its key findings as follows.
Students leave the educational system without the skills necessary for work and life.
- Existing recruitment practices hinder upward mobility.
- There is an inequality between academic and vocational routes to work.
Consequently there is a need to:
make alternative qualifications system coherent, accessible and business-friendly;
reduce unfairness between academic and vocational routes to work, particularly in funding;
- ensure apprenticeships remain high-quality;
- improving careers guidance and advice for young people;
- make transitions work for those in the middle;
increase market transparency with destinations data for schools and colleges;
increase employment involvement with schools in the transition to work; and
develop a clearer policy framework and a more effective delivery mechanism.
The committee then goes on to make some more detailed recommendations. Of particular interest to the readers of this blog will be the following on career education and guidance.
A new gold standard in independent careers advice and guidance, supported by a robust evidence base and drawing on existing expertise, which moves responsibility away from schools and colleges (which would require legislative change) in order to ensure that students are given independent advice about the different routes and qualifications available, to include: (i) independent, face-to-face, careers advice, which provides good quality, informed advice on more than just academic routes, so that individuals are able to make decisions based on sound knowledge of what is available. (ii) a single access point for all information on vocational options, including the labour market returns on qualifications.
Improved careers education in schools, to empower young people to make good choices for themselves, to include: (i) information on labour market returns, which would include information about the financial prospects of different options, to inform and motivate young people. (ii) data on local labour markets to inform the teaching of Life Skills, skills for life, and careers education.
This is all very encouraging. Despite some recent thawing of the climate for careers there is still a long way to go in making the system work effectively. I will be very interested to see how the government responds to this report!
p.s. Note the following paragraph!
During our inquiry, we visited the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby. We were struck by the quality of evidence from the staff there. In particular, the Centre corroborated our written and oral evidence on a number of issues. Specifically staff at the Centre told us that, ideally, there should be two levels to good careers guidance: something outside of schools that brokered links with employers and the local labour market, and something inside schools and colleges so that pupils were learning about work at the same time as studying.