Since the publication of Skills for jobs: Lifelong learning for opportunity and growth last week, I have been working with the Career Development Institute (CDI) to provide a detailed analysis of its implications for career development.
This morning we publish a new CDI briefing paper which explores the white paper and draws out what it really means for the careers field.
In many ways the white paper serves as the replacement for the 2017 Careers Strategy which effectively ran out at the end of 2020. But, the white paper is much broader and is mainly focused on the reform of the technical and vocation education system and on the way in which individuals are funded to participate in it. So, career development, only gets a relatively small mention within the white paper’s 80 pages.
What does it say about careers?
The white paper includes a section entitled ‘clear and trusted information, advice and guidance for careers and education choices’ which gathers together all of the materials related to careers and career guidance.
It includes the following commitments.
- Requiring schools to provide independent career guidance from year 7.
- Publishing updated statutory guidance for careers.
- Supporting and strengthening the ‘Baker clause’.
- Continuing the rollout of the Careers Hubs.
- Investing in more training for careers leaders.
- Revamping the National Careers Service website.
It also sets out some longer-term plans for the scrutiny and development of the field. These include the following.
- Asking Ofsted to undertake a thematic review of career guidance.
- Asking Sir John Holman to undertake a review with the aim of achieving greater alignment of The Careers & Enterprise Company and the National Careers Service as part of an all-age careers system.
- Increasing the focus on career development in teachers’ training and professional development.
What is left out?
The white paper takes a lot of time to say relatively little. Despite expending a lot of words, it makes relatively few major announcements. The most substantial change relates to the reform of funding arrangements for post-18 education and training. However, even this change is a little speculative as it purportedly hasn’t been signed off by the Treasury.
With respect to careers there are some valuable commitments as is seen above. But, it falls short of what is needed in a number of important ways.
Firstly, it is not a lifelong careers strategy and leaves several key issues vague or unresolved. The framing of the white paper as essentially focused on further education, means that everything outside of this frame is ignored. This is a problem for career guidance as it crosses across into schools, higher education, and employment policy and cannot be confined to being an appendage of the further education system.
Secondly, the white paper fails to address or offer a way forward on personal guidance, both within the education system and beyond it. There is no reference to the importance of qualified careers advisers nor any additional funding for personal careers guidance.
Thirdly, the approach to career guidance set out in the white paper is largely a continuation of existing policy and lacks the ambition needed in the present moment. We are dealing with a pandemic and a crisis in both education and employment. A bit more of the same is unlikely to be enough!
Read the full CDI briefing paper on the Skills for Jobs White Paper