New briefing paper from @theCDI – Learning and skills for economic recovery, social cohesion and a more equal Britain (The Blunkett Report)

David Blunkett

I have just written a briefing paper for the Career Development Institute looking at Lord Blunkett’s report for the Labour Party, Learning and skills for economic recovery, social cohesion and a more equal Britain. In the paper I describe the vision that Blunkett’s paper sets out for the career development system.

While the Blunkett Report has no formal power it provides a very strong indication of the direction that the Labour Party is likely to travel on education and skills as it develops its manifesto and seeks to become the government.

The paper argues for the establishment of a National Skills Taskforce and reforms in early years provision, schools, career guidance and support, further and higher education and adult and lifelong learning.

Blunkett’s Report contains a substantial section on career guidance and proposes a number of broader reforms that would create a fertile environment for career guidance. Despite this, there are six areas of constructive criticism that we would hope that the Labour Party would engage with as it takes this report forward.

  • There is no careers strategy. If career guidance is going to coalesce into a national system, there is a need to provide it with more governance and strategic direction.
  • There is no promise of funding. The omission of any discussion of funding leaves a lot of questions unanswered about both the current system and the desired future system.
  • There is no mention of the careers profession. There is a need to spell out the importance of having well qualified careers professionals across the lifecourse and to address the sector’s issues with recruitment and retention.
  • One-to-one forms of professional career guidance are largely ignored. The opportunity for an individual to seek professional advice and guidance on their career and pathway choices should be at the centre of an effective career guidance system, but the report offers few insights about how this part of the system can be developed and delivered.
  • Career guidance in schools needs to continue to develop. The report under-estimates the challenges of meeting the Gatsby Benchmarks. Schools need funding, particularly to meet Benchmark 8. A future government should also build on the Gatsby Benchmarks e.g. starting career education earlier.
  • There is a need for a stronger vision for adult guidance. It would be good to see an unambiguous statement that every citizen should have the right to access lifelong guidance.

Learning and skills for economic recovery, social cohesion and a more equal Britain is an important document which provides an excellent starting point for what education, skills and career guidance policy might look like under a Labour Government. There is much in it that career professionals should welcome.

If the current polls are to be believed, there is a very strong possibility of a Labour government within the next two years. The Blunkett Report is the basis of such a government’s education policy, but at present it lacks detail and would benefit from further debate and development. However, if the Labour Party is willing to continue to consult on these ideas and to evolve them, there is a strong possibility that the career development system could be greatly strengthened under a Labour government.

Download the briefing paper in full

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