Professor Jenny Bimrose discusses the Labour Party plans to guarantee young people independent and face-to-face advice, delivered by careers professionals trained to give information and guidance on academic and vocational qualifications..
In the sound and fury about the demise of careers provision in schools across England, one crucial factor has been generally overlooked. Many young people are struggling to connect their education to changing local, national and global labour markets. This has serious consequences for families, communities and our economy, now and in the future.
Professor Jenny Bimrose from the University of Warwick's Institute for Employment Research (IER) states: "This proposed guarantee for all young people to receive independent and face-to-face advice, delivered by trained careers professionals is desperately needed and long overdue. We know that any delay in young people finding a foothold in the world of work can have a lasting, scarring effect. The rapid recent demise of careers advice has left many young people, parents and teachers’ abandoned in a bewildering education and employment landscape.” Recent research indicates that the expectation that employers will fill the gap created by the withdrawal of careers services is not justified. Commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation, this research investigated working links between employers, schools and the National Careers Service. It found that approximately half of all employers surveyed had never engaged with schools or colleges, nor did they have any plans to do this in the future because they could not see any potential benefits of this activity to their company.
The need for careers guidance is not restricted to young people in education. Other research carried out at IER, led by Professor Jenny Bimrose, highlights an equal need for careers guidance for groups of people. Mid career changers need careers support to re-skill, up-skill and re-position themselves in the labour market, while women, as a persistently disadvantaged group in employment, need specialist support and help.
In December 2014, the current Government announced plans to invest £20m in a new careers and enterprise company. Four months on, progress to improve careers advice for young people in schools across England has been slow. Professor Jenny Bimrose states: "Careers advice is different from advice about enterprise. There has been a serious breakdown in careers provision with many young people struggling to connect their schooling to fast changing local, national and global labour markets. This should be the primary focus.”
After two years advising the current Government to provide more consistent advice on careers provision across England and recommendations on how best to address shortfalls, particularly in face-to-face careers support for young people, Dr Deirdre Hughes, OBE indicates "Careers work is a public as well as a private good. Now is the time to focus on achieving greater social mobility for the many thousands of young people who have missed out on careers advice in their schooling. The new careers and enterprise company has a noble aim but it must be clear on the actual problem it is trying to solve”. She highlights careers education and advice in schools across England remains on “life support” with far too many providers now competing in a crowded careers marketplace. Employers and entrepreneurs are part of the mix, but so too is a National Careers Service with careers professionals trained to give impartial information and guidance on academic and vocational qualifications.
Whichever party comes into Government after the General Election, urgent steps need to be taken to make up for lost ground in careers advice for young people over the last two years.
Professor Jenny Bimrose is based at the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick. She has carried out numerous research studies into how people can be supported to make successful labour market transitions. (see http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/people/jbimrose/)
Dr Deirdre Hughes, OBE is past Chair of the Government appointed National Careers Council for England (May 2012 – September 2014). She is also a Commissioner with the UK Commission for Employment & Skills and an Associate Fellow at Warwick University, Institute for Employment Research (IER).
Bimrose, J., McMahon, M. & Watson, M. (Eds.) (2015). Women’s career development throughout the lifespan: an international exploration. London: Routledge, 270 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-81677-9
Bimrose, J., Brown, A., Behle, H., Barnes, S-A., Hughes, D., Andrews, D., Davies, E. and Wiseman, J. (2014) 'Understanding the link between employers and schools and the role of the National Careers Service', BIS Research Paper No. 206, London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, BIS Research Paper No. 206. Available from: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ier/publications/2014/employers-schools-and-ncs.pdf
Brown, A., Bimrose, J. and Merrill, B., (2014) 'Navigating difficult waters: learning for career and labour market transitions', Research Paper 42, Thessaloniki: CEDEFOP, Research Paper 42. Available from: file:///C:/Users/Jenny/Downloads/5542_en.pdf
National Careers Council’s report to Government - 10th September 2014 - ‘Taking Action: Achieving a Culture Change in Careers Provision’. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-careers-council
 Brown, A., Bimrose, J. and Merrill, B., (2014) 'Navigating difficult waters: learning for career and labour market transitions', Research Paper 42, Thessaloniki: CEDEFOP, Research Paper 42. Available from: file:///C:/Users/Jenny/Downloads/5542_en.pdf
 Bimrose, J., McMahon, M. & Watson, M. (Eds.) (2015). Women’s career development throughout the lifespan: an international exploration. London: Routledge, 270 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-81677-9
 National Careers Council’s report to Government - 10th September 2014 - ‘Taking Action: Achieving a Culture Change in Careers Provision’. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-careers-council
Melissa Holloway, Assistant Press Officer