Government 'must act to improve careers provision'

By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News education reporter

Image source, Thinkstock

Ministers have been accused of "burying their heads in the sand" over the poor state of careers education and advice for teenagers in England's schools.

The House of Commons Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy calls on the government to publish a "long-promised" strategy for careers.

The MPs warn careers information and advice is patchy and often inadequate.

They say too many youngsters leave education without the tools to help them consider their future job options.

And many do not understand how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the job market.

The MPs say the failure to advise young people is exacerbating skills shortages and having a negative impact on the country's productivity.

The warning comes as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants said eight out of 10 British school-leavers "lacked essential business skills" such as numeracy.

Image source, Thinkstock

The MPs' report says: "It is three years since the Education Committee produced a report raising serious concerns about the quality of careers information, advice and guidance in schools, and yet provision remains patchy across England.

"We are very disappointed that careers advice and guidance is still poor in so many schools: the system has failed too many young people for far too long.

"The government's careers strategy is urgently needed and must include immediate steps to ensure all young people have access to high quality information, advice and guidance."

Skills gap

Neil Carmichael MP and Iain Wright MP, who co-chair the committee, said the government's lack of action to address failings in careers provision was unacceptable and ministers should "think again on careers advice".

"Ministers appear to be burying their heads in the sand while careers guidance fails young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and exacerbates the country's skills gap," they said in a statement.

"Impartial advice and guidance and high quality careers education is vital if we are to achieve the social mobility and aspiration that the prime minister has talked about and vital to creating the skilled workforce needed to grow the economy post-Brexit."

The MPs said they were "very disappointed" that the careers strategy "long-promised" by the government had still not been produced.