CBI chief warns over poor careers advice
Careers advice is on "life support" in many schools in England with teenagers having little knowledge of the workplace, the head of the CBI claims.
John Cridland says careers guidance must improve for young people faced with a rapidly changing labour market.
Mr Cridland is critical of a government move which saw schools take over the duty to secure independent careers guidance for pupils from last autumn.
The government says schools should decide what is right for their pupils.
Speaking at the Grammar School Heads' Association annual conference, the CBI director general said it was clear the careers advice system had not worked for employers or students for many years.
Young people were hit by a "double whammy" of slow economic growth and a rapidly changing labour market, said Mr Cridland.
"A job for life has been and long gone - today's jobs market is much more complex. Young people need reliable, high-quality advice but the system is too dependent on individual teachers or it's left to family and friends to try and pick up the pieces - that's simply not good enough.
"We know careers advice is on life support in many areas, as schools struggle with the new statutory duty. It's right that schools should have the freedom to run their own affairs - but the government may have adopted too laissez-faire an approach with serious consequences for our young people.
"Careers must be a priority not a bolt-on afterthought or optional extra. It's clear the National Careers Service is needed in schools.
"Young people need its brand of informed face-to-face advice, as well as needing to be better targeted, more actively online, through social media channels."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education spokesperson said: "For the very first time this government has introduced a legal obligation on schools to deliver independent and impartial careers advice, replacing the previous system which was patchy, costly and often of poor quality.
"We also launched the National Careers Service, which provides a helpline and webchat service used more than 67,000 times by young people in its first year alone, and a website which has attracted seven million visits.
"It is clear that head teachers are best placed to judge the needs of their pupils and the type of careers advice they will most benefit from.
"We have issued guidance to schools to help them fulfil their obligation, and Ofsted has said it will prioritise the inspection of careers guidance from September."
Paul Chubb, executive director for Careers England, said: "This is a highly significant statement by the CBI.
"It is a telling moment when the voice of the nation's employers, the CBI, adds its weight to the calls for the government to act to redress the problems caused by legislation which is not supported by sufficient statutory guidance to schools, with inadequate accountability measures, and far too laissez-faire an approach to quality assurance."
This year, many concerns have been raised about the quality of careers advice available to young people.
In January, the Education Select Committee warned of problems with "the quality, independence and impartiality" of current careers advice, saying services for young people in England showed a "worrying deterioration".
In March, a survey of teenagers by the Education and Employers Taskforce found a "massive mismatch" between young people's career expectations and the reality of the jobs available.
The study also indicated that teenagers had a very weak understanding of potential earnings for different types of jobs.
And in June, the National Careers Council said face-to-face information was needed as part of a major upgrade in careers advice for young people in England.