Latest News

The position could be much worse, says Karen O'Donoghue

15 05.14

The first cut of the Statutory Guidance for careers provision, put in place last year was widely accepted to be a truly awful document so it's rather obvious to say that this new guidance is better than the one it replaced; let's face it, the line goes, how could it be any worse?

Actually my view is that the position could be much worse and that there are elements to celebrate within this guidance whilst acknowledging that there is some distance to travel.

For example, this guidance makes it clear that provision wholly internally focused is simply not appropriate; nor is the provision of access to a website, offered on its own, a suitable alternative to an appropriately tailored independent careers offer.  The loss of the statutory duty to deliver work-related learning pre-16 is also addressed, at least a little, again an improvement of what went before, and this is helpfully linked with important role that mentors can play in supporting the aspirations of young people.  Matthew Hancock's "Inspiration Vision" and the recommendations of the National Careers Council are much in evidence here and the wider concept of careers including developing employability skills is, in my view, “a good thing”, as long as it remains clear that require different approaches to achieve different outcomes.

The role of the National Careers Service in brokering relationships with employers and potentially offering services as part of sold services to schools and colleges is also to be welcomed. We'd sound a note of caution here which is that there are those new prime contractors who are unfamiliar with some of the geographical areas that they're now working with and will need time developing clear understanding of local partnerships before they are to get to grips with their brokerage role for schools and colleges, a new responsibility that has brought with it only marginal funding.

CDI is naturally pleased to have been referenced to as a source of quality assured guidance practitioners, using the UK Register of Career Development Professionals.  The reference to the provision of one-to-one guidance is valuable, though of course the need for guidance isn't determined by an individual’s intellectual ability or level of job aspiration as is implied by the targeted approach.

The area of greatest disappointment has to be the lack of reference to the intrinsic role of a careers professional; neither a properly trained careers educator operating as the ring master to the experiences that young people receive, nor the clarity that a careers guidance adviser operates to clear professional standards (Level 6) and a recognised Code of Ethics that demands impartiality.

CDI will start to help with this by creating a Directory of Careers Services that schools and colleges can access, including quality assured products, organisations and individuals.  We make this investment as an act of faith since without an obligation to access the services we cannot be certain that such directory will be valued.  Nevertheless the CDI hopes that this will support schools and colleges deliver a program that best meets the needs of their students in the most cost efficient way.  In line with the National Careers Council recommendation that also picks up such a directory we hope that colleagues in the Skills Funding Agency will support production mobilising National Career Service providers to engage.

Many in our sector are disappointed with the rigour of this guidance and I share some of this frustration as a provider of careers guidance services in the Northwest.  The wider picture though is that the engagement of employers and their commitment to developing a broad based careers offer with the responsibility laying directly with schools and colleges as opposed to a remote third party and the potential of developing the National Careers Service, at least creates a foundation to build a broad based careers offer for all young people that has looked to be almost unattainable for the last year.

Karen O’Donoghue
Chief Executive of the Via Partnership and President of The Career Development Institute