Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you today for the launch of the National Careers Council’s first report. I’m pleased to be here and sure that this report will help us in our thinking about careers and what that word means in homes, offices and factories across the country.
I would like to thank the National Careers Council and especially your chair, Dr Deidre Hughes, for all your hard work over the last year, and to welcome this, your first report. I particularly appreciate your effort as I know that members of the Council contribute your time on a voluntary basis. I look forward to working with you as we consider your recommendations in detail.
We all here share a passionate belief in the value of young people getting the right education, and making the right choices so they can reach their potential. You have set out a compelling narrative of how guidance should be delivered in the future. Members of the National Careers Council, with their background and experience, have thought long and hard about two major problems we face and which cause us all concern. We have high youth unemployment at the same time as employers are reporting skills gaps. To address this, we must equip young people with the right training, qualifications and skills to make the most of their lives, get a good job and hold it down. That is why we have increased apprenticeship opportunities and introduced traineeships, which will start this summer.
The report acknowledges weaknesses and rightly sets out a path for how careers guidance needs to look forward. Since 2010, the government has created the National Careers Service to put a focus on clear information and professional quality advice; and given schools and further education colleges a powerful new responsibility to secure independent and impartial careers guidance for their students.
I believe this report is a moment to push further, and change our language so we support young people for a rapidly changing world. I passionately believe that to help people from all backgrounds succeed in life, we as a society need to inspire them with a sense of what they can achieve – and help them understand how they can make this a reality. But we also know that a top-down system, controlled by the centre, won’t work. So how do we do that? First, we need to separate out what’s working and what’s not.
Provision of information has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade. Thanks to an emerging market in careers products and services, young people can access more information than ever before. The information is out there, on the web.
But information is not enough: kids also need inspiration. Access to employers, mentors and coaches who can lift their eyes to the horizon, raise their ambitions, encourage them to overcome barriers to success and to do what it takes to realise their potential.
Some may need role models, and to meet inspiring individuals from the careers they aspire to. Others may benefit from more nurturing influences, helping them to build their confidence and resilience. Good guidance is individual and idiosyncratic.
Approaching the end of the first academic year in which responsibility for careers guidance has been devolved to schools, the time is right to reflect on progress made.
Schools will increasingly be held to account through Ofsted for the support they deliver. As Sir Michael Wilshaw has set out, from September Ofsted will give priority to the inspection of careers advice, and their thematic review will be very interesting reading.
And destination measures will encourage a focus on supporting young people to make good choices. If students enrol on a course that isn’t right for them and drop out, this is reflected in the data. The next set of data published on 20 June will include employment and education destinations including Universities and Apprenticeships, and it will be richer, incorporating data based on the characteristics of students. Key stage 4 data will appear in performance tables for the first time.
These are big changes, and the challenge now is to deliver within this new framework. Yes, that is a challenge to schools and colleges to meet their duty. But it is also a challenge to us all: to government, to careers professionals and to business, to respond to the world as it changes, to find new ways of working together. And above all, to inspire, motivate, encourage and strengthen young people to meet their potential.