I am delighted to be here today (7 November).
It is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the importance of people getting information, advice and guidance that helps them make decisions about their future learning, jobs and training and the role it plays in helping people of all ages to fulfil their potential.
Everyone in this room is committed to supporting young people and adults across the country to make the most of their talents and pursue a rewarding career. A talk from an inspiring employer that sparks new ideas, a work placement that opens new doors, personal guidance to explore options and develop a career plan. The work that you do is so important in helping people to succeed.
The importance of careers advice
Careers advice is the foundation upon which some of our biggest reforms will be built. New T levels will be a gold standard for technical and professional excellence. They are an amazing opportunity for young people to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to enter skilled employment in a particular occupational area.
Our apprenticeship reforms are putting employers in control and enabling them to develop their workforces now and for the future. There have been 1.1 million apprenticeship starts since May 2015 and we aim to reach 3 million by 2020.
This skills revolution is dependent upon people having the best possible advice about the career path they should take. One that makes the most of their talents.
Careers guidance is central to social mobility. It is about making sure that people from communities in every part of the land can develop the knowledge and confidence they need to progress. And have a clear plan to help them get there.
I am tremendously grateful for the work that you do. That is why I want to give you a first insight into the Careers Strategy which we will be publishing shortly. I know many of you in this room have been waiting a long time for the Careers Strategy.
It will be an important document that will set out what Government will do to ensure that everybody has access to the right advice, at the right time. A clear and accessible document, setting out the part we will all play in achieving this vision.
I am going to talk to you today about the four themes that will shape our Careers Strategy and continue to guide our approach as government works closely with schools, colleges, employers and other organisations to transform the life chances of people across the country.
Gatsby and Careers Leaders
First, we need a high-quality careers programme in every school and college. There are some examples of excellent and inspiring provision, but we know that many schools and colleges require more support.
The Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s excellent report, Good Career Guidance was the result of an 18-month study looking at best practice in the UK and abroad.
It has resulted in eight Gatsby Benchmarks that define excellence. The benchmarks have had a really positive impact, as many of you have no doubt seen for yourselves.
Gatsby has been funding a pilot in the North East with 13 school and 3 colleges to look at the impact of putting the benchmarks into practice.
At the start of the pilot, no school or college fully achieved more than three of the benchmarks and half did not achieve any. Now, two years on, 88% of schools and colleges are achieving 6 to 8 of the benchmarks and three schools are achieving all eight. That is a great success story.
That is hundreds more young people benefitting from world class careers support to help them achieve their potential. I want many more people to benefit in this way. That is why the Gatsby Benchmarks will be the bedrock of our Careers Strategy. Setting the standard for every school and college to work towards and support announced through the Strategy will be geared towards helping every school and college to achieve the benchmarks.
To make the Gatsby benchmarks happen in all schools and colleges will require effective leadership. A number of organisations have been looking at models of career leadership. Teach First’s recent report provides an excellent analysis of the skills and attributes required for the role and the steps they suggest we take to embed Careers Leaders in schools and colleges. I have been considering these recommendations carefully for our Careers Strategy
Encounters with providers and employers
Second, employers are an integral part of our approach. As Britain prepares to leave the European Union it is crucial to meet the skills needs of our economy, to provide opportunities for people to learn about different jobs and careers and to develop the skills and behaviours needed to thrive in the workplace.
The Careers & Enterprise Company has made outstanding progress. There are now over 2000 Enterprise Advisers working with over half of the schools and colleges in England providing support to develop a careers programme. They use their networks to help pupils get more experiences of the world of work and provide insight into the key skills needed by local businesses.
The Careers & Enterprise Company has already invested £1million in the first 6 Opportunity Areas and we will be allocating a further £1million to support the second wave of Opportunity Areas. The investment will deliver activities such as career learning, enterprise activities or careers talks. Every secondary school and college in an Opportunity Area will have an Enterprise Adviser and every student aged 11-18 in these areas will have access to at least four inspiring encounters with the world of work. This will focus support in areas of the country where social mobility is lowest.
Tailored advice, to meet individual needs
Third, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from tailored support. Personal guidance from a qualified adviser can have a real impact. I know that the careers profession has experienced many shocks in recent years and that organisations such as Careers England and the Career Development Institute are working tirelessly to raise the profile and status of the profession.
I very much welcome the CDI’s register which we want schools, colleges and others to use to find a professional who can guide their pupils and students. The National Careers Service is also doing great work to help adults. Last year, more than 50% of adults seen by the National Careers Service moved onto an accredited training course or into employment.
We have already extended the National Careers Service contracts until September 2018 so this good work can continue. Last week, we announced a new Flexible Learning Fund to support projects that deliver learning in a way that is flexible and easy to access, especially for adults who are in work, or returning to work, and have low or intermediate level skills.
Fourth, we want to make the most of the rich sources of information about jobs and careers that exist. We know that there is a vast array of information and data available which has extraordinary potential to help people make informed decisions on the education, training and employment options available to them.
Yet it is also true that these information sources can be difficult to navigate and those who could most benefit from them are sometimes unable to.
More people now use data about the destinations of students when considering their options for jobs and training. The government already publishes this data on students’ destinations, but we recognise that more needs to be done to make the data easier to interpret.
If we are to harness the potential of this data in a way that supports social mobility we need to ensure that everyone is able access and understand this information, including those who are not digitally confident.
These four priorities will form the bedrock of the Careers Strategy. I know you are eagerly anticipating it being published soon and I am absolutely committed to getting this right because it is so important for the future success of this country.