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 257.

    Should be mandatory classes on capitalism for kids in schools. Teach them that they must be super-competitive to get jobs, and even moreso to keep them. And that if they don't get a job, they'll be destitute forever. Careers advice in schools does not represent the harsh struggle of the current employment market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    The vast majority of teachers have only spent time in the classroom. How can teachers give worthwhile career advice based on their own non-existent experience of the world of work. Their default-setting is to encourage school leavers to go into Further Education because its the only area of life in which they have any experience and it passes responsibilty for "advice" to someone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    It was so much easier back in the early 1980s. If you went to uni, even to do a comedy degree like History or English there were loads of firms with management trainee courses and, since only 5% of 18 year olds went to uni then your degree actually a difference.

    Now anybody who can fog a mirror is showing up with a comedy degree and wondering where are the management training courses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Career advice was never any good. It was always the useless teachers who were given the easy option of being careers advisors. They had absolutely no idea of work outside of school. Useless

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    Is anyone in charge around here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    63 The Flaming Bear

    'at least some presentations by real employers before A-level decisions are taken'

    We used to get old boys coming in 6th Form and tell you about their degree courses or their careers.

    I learned you don't need a law degree to be a lawyer, an accountancy degree to be an accountant and that I didn't want to be a Quantity Surveyor. Which was more use than the careers guy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Careers Advice is about helping the individual to identify career goals, potential barriers and also increase the persons planning and decision making. If you don't need this, don't see a careers adviser. If you know what you want to do, why can't you research how to get there yourself ? Sounds like alot of people are going to the wrong person in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    How do we compare with Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Netherlands and, of course, Sweden and Germany. Is there a league table for these figures that's causing embarrassment for government ministers ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    A lot has changed in 40 yrs.
    With diminishing resources unable to sustain our current let alone increasing numbers, I'm guessing the advice now would be:

    A. Learn how to queue at food banks.

    B. How to grow food at the side of the road.

    C. How to exist in a room (if your lucky) for 70 years.

    D. How to be your own doctor.

    E. How to enjoy pollution.

    F. etc.. etc.. etc..

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    When you disband the careers service and tell schools they have to do it themselves this is hardly a surprise. My sons 6th form tutor didn't even know what FE colleges were in the area or anything about vocational qualifications! useless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    At school I was on course for rubbish grades for my highers (B and 3 Cs!). I do not remember any help from my career guidance lady (Ms Tierney was her name, she was also our maths teacher). I was not even given advice about applying for Uni as i suppose it looked like i wasnt going to get the grades. So i did a HND first then a degree! Stick it to ya Mrs T!

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.


    Imagine how well she would do without all the religious gibber-jabber you spurt in her direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    I am a careers advisor in college and often have school students come and see me. The government caused this problem themselves by asking schools to provide their own careers advice but not allowing them to buy in provision. School careers advice has always been substandard, every year they say so but nothing is ever done!

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.


    That's what my careers teacher was like. She shot down everyone's suggestions of what they would like to be, and just told the girls to do P.R. and the boys to be engineers. I had infinite out-of-school interests and talents, and a glittering academic record. But she was so disinterested in me that I had to organise my own (required) work experience as she was always absent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    1) Leave school at 16 and get a get a min wage, 0 hour contract job.
    2) Study hard, go to Uni and end up with a massive debt, then get a get a min wage, 0 hour contract job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Culture change in careers provision needed and urgent action is required to move forward on this.

  • Comment number 241.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Young people need harsh, realistic career advice. The lie I was sold at school was you go to university, get a degree and get a highly paid job. That is just not the case. People should have dreams to aspire to, but they need to be well grounded as well and be taught it is dog eat dog out there and they may not always achieve what they set out to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    School Vs Employer

    You are fantastic / you’re a grey product of an inept system
    You have passed everything A++*++** / we don’t know how bright you are, take our test
    You’ve never failed a test / you’re in for a shock
    You’ll go straight to the top / start stacking shelves until you get a work ethic
    Please stop doing that, please / quit that or you’re fired

    Welcome to reallity

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Best advice, in my opinion, is to push off to some remote part of Wales, Scotland or wherever, and start your own economy. You've seen, lived in, a 'good' example of a crap economy, one based on cronyism and chasing dosh for the sake of it. Spend time reading Hobbes, Bastiat and others of *your* choice, before deciding the sort of life you all wish to live. It can't be worse than the status quo.


Page 6 of 18


More Education & Family stories



  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Woman with closed eyeStrange light show

    What do you see when you close your eyes?

  • Sony WalkmanLost ideas

    What has happened to Japan's inventors?

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.