Careers advice failing in schools, says Ofsted


Related Stories

Careers services in schools in England are not working effectively, according to a hard-hitting report from the education watchdog, Ofsted.

Three quarters of schools visited by Ofsted were not delivering adequate careers advice.

Since 2012 schools have been responsible for careers information.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "It is worrying that the new arrangements are failing to provide good guidance."

In response, the government says it will issue clearer guidance on what is expected from schools.

Graham Stuart, chairman of the education select committee, said the report made "an irresistible case for change".

The report from Ofsted, based on a survey of 60 schools, examines the quality of careers advice since responsibility was given to individual schools last year.

Lack of skills

The watchdog found that "very few" schools had the skills to provide careers guidance.

Schools could also buy in careers advice, but Ofsted says "few schools had bought in adequate service from external sources".

There were concerns about a lack of connection with employers and a tendency to prioritise academic pathways rather than to provide information about vocational training.

Start Quote

The government must act swiftly to make sure schools have the support they need”

End Quote Neil Carberry CBI

Schools were not promoting the National Careers Service, which offers advice through a phone line and website.

The Ofsted report says that the National Careers Service, which is for all ages, needs to improve its marketing to young people.

In its response, the government says the National Careers Service will be improved to "give young people a greater understanding of the full range of options available to them".

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock highlighted the importance of getting employers involved with schools and colleges.

"People with fulfilling careers are the ones who can really show young people what it is like to succeed in the world of work. That is why I want more employers involved in providing high-quality careers advice to the future workforce.

"We gave schools and colleges the responsibility for securing good careers advice for their pupils because they know them best.

"Ofsted highlighted excellent careers advice already being provided by schools, but I want all schools to do as the best do - inspiring young people, providing work experience and putting them in touch with employers."

Youth unemployment

Anne Spackman of Career Academies, which links schools with employers, said that work experience was a vital part of understanding about the jobs market.

"There is no shortage of people coming forward to act as mentors and no shortage of businesses looking to build an employee pipeline," she said.

"But, we have to channel that energy and goodwill into work experience, making it as easy as possible for businesses - however small - to be part of this new drive to help our young into work."

Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that high levels of youth unemployment made careers advice even more significant.

"It is vitally important that young people have access to information on the full range of career pathways available so they can make informed choices about their next steps.

"Our findings show that too few schools are doing enough to ensure all their students receive comprehensive advice about the breadth of career opportunities available to them."

Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said: "Sadly, the findings of this report, which reflect the warnings we and many others have consistently given to government, are no surprise to school and college leaders.

"The duty to provide careers guidance was placed on schools at a time when most existing infrastructure and funding for such provision had been removed."

Nick Chambers, director of the Employers and Education Taskforce, welcomed that the government now recognised that careers advice needed "significant improvement".

He said the taskforce's Inspiring the Future project, linking state schools with employers, has now signed up two thirds of secondary schools.

"Many more employers now need to play their part; and the National Careers Service needs urgently to provide more support for schools," said Mr Chambers.

OFSTED highlights the importance of giving young people the chance to hear first-hand from people about their jobs and career paths - and schools agree, with two-thirds of secondaries having already signed up to Inspiring the Future because it provides free access to thousands of employee volunteers. Many more employers now need to play their part; and the National Careers Service needs urgently to provide more support for schools."

President of the Association of Colleges, Michele Sutton, said the report painted a "damning picture of careers guidance in schools and these findings chime with what colleges and young people have been telling us for years".

The group, representing further education colleges, wants Ofsted inspections to make careers services a higher priority, to increase access to jobs information and for the Department for Education to increase funding to £80m, in line with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Concerns about careers were echoed by employers and MPs.

Neil Carberry, the CBI's director for employment and skills policy, said: "We warned earlier this year that careers advice was on life support and this report confirms the scale of the problem. The government must act swiftly to make sure schools have the support they need.

"We agree that business has a key role to play - and employers stand ready to play their part. This must be part of a wider movement led by the government and involving education and career development professionals."

Earlier this year, the education select committee published a report warning of deteriorating careers services. Committee chairman Graham Stuart said the findings of the Ofsted report showed that it was "completely unacceptable" that so many schools were failing to provide effective advice.

"The education reforms the government has undertaken are undermined if there is no decent signposting within education and between education and the world of employment.

"The new National Careers Service should receive funding to help - and challenge - schools to deliver good quality careers advice."

Problems with careers advice has also been linked to a lack of social mobility, with poorer youngsters unaware of the job opportunities that might be available to them.

Labour's Tristram Hunt said this was a "damning indictment" on the government's changes to careers.

"This goes to the heart of their economic incompetence and shows how out of touch they are. With nearly a million young people unemployed, the need for a high quality and impartial careers services is more important than ever.

"Instead Michael Gove has scrapped the right to work experience, set up a 'National' Careers Service that young people have not heard of and got rid of independent careers advice."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Be born privileged or if not work for the state sector. Better pay and pensions that can only be dreamed of in the private sector plus early retirement. Police officers can be retired at 48 with the tax payer picking up the bill! Further if you are lazy or incompetent you don't get sacked (except in extreme cases) and the unions will negotiate a pay rise regardless of your personal performance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Recent examples of career advice from schools I have heard have been laughable, such as, suggesting obscure jobs for which there is little demand but fits in with what the young person finds easy. Instead young people should look at the pay for jobs they might fancy and, if the pay Is high enough (suggesting demand for the subject), they should then work hard to get the qualifications required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    Teachers and careers service are only really interested in giving advice to young people who want to continue in education. Those who want to pursue vocational education and training always have been seriously overlooked. Until teachers understand what is the best and most appropriate route for young people, the system won't change. Links with employers has to be a focus for schools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Best advice is to get on a quango - such as the BBC obviously, and then they pay you a £Million to retire early

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Between ages of 15-19, only advice I needed was where I could buy alcohol. Rather than pidgeon-holeing 16 year olds into some arbirtary career path based on what subject they got the best mark in, why not ensure a service is available for when people know what they want to do? I know people in their 40s who still haven't settled on a career

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    Delivery of most careers advice was privatised about 20 years ago and has mostly been passed around various outsourcing businesses. Need I say more?

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    My teacher's advice: "I don't think engineering is for you, you're not good enough at talking to people".

    I am in fact now an engineer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    @122.Matt K

    Oh do get over yourself Matt! I know plenty Teachers who came from hard backgrounds. Did you fail at becoming a teacher?

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    School careers advice tended to be excellent, but only for those who already knew what they wanted to be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    My career advice at Grammar School (1966) consisted of a suggestion that I apply to Teacher training college as a route to a Degree course as it was expected that my grades would not good be enough for real Universities. Seems as if nothing much has changed, with career advice from Teachers who in most cases have never worked outside of Education. The need is for independent advice from experts

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    To all young people out reading this... I was told not to set my sights too high and to definitely 'lower your expectations lad' so as not to be disappointed... I now have a science degree with honours! Doh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    It's not what you know, but it's who you know to have a Career.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    The idea of careers advisers getting children to think about a specific job role is WRONG. There are thousands of different jobs out there that don't fit into the traditional "doctor, teacher, train driver" stereotypes and asking children to think in these narrow terms just isn't helpful. They need to be equipped with the right SKILLS employers are looking for, skills that can unlock any job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    careers advice is failing full stop when it comes to this dog of a Government contracting everything out to the profit driven sector at lowest cost to the provider , not the tax payer, and maximum cost to us....

    ....friends who have recently used the National Careers Service found that they offered no advice that is not already available via the DirectGov website - and that is not much.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    A lot of career advice is down to 'not what you know but who you know' in the way that kids from backgrounds with well educated parents with careers themselves tended to get the best insight from them rather than the school - also a lot of kids who had parents/relatives in the trades would find a path to an apprenticeship and end up doing well through that route - schools just want exam results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Ha one of natures great constants, like the speed of light.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Achieving >50% in uni studying "hard" value adding subjects sciences/engineering & languages would be impossible/expensive. So a proliferation of cheap to supply but largley pointless degrees. In turn schools teach & promote the guff these courses need. So a pointlessly educated & wrongly qualfied population with expectations of "graduate" salaries. M&S etc really need graduate managers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Here's my career advice:

    Learn to weld and get coded, use CNC machine, etc . .

    Anything that actually PAYS a living WAGE and gives you the opportunity to work abroad . . not sitting in an office and playing on Facebook for 8K a year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    During my days at 6th form I applied to Accountancy firms for an apprenticeship and got one.

    However the 6th form insisted I apply to university anyway.....That was my careers advice....."Apply to university"
    I refused and they flew off the handle with me.

    I suppose I reduced they're university numbers in the prospectus - Not interested in my career one bit!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Possibly the main problem is it is teachers giving careers advice and very few of them have ever worked a day in their lives.


Page 11 of 18


More Education & Family stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.