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In conversation with Ryan Gibson: reflecting on Robert Halfon’s recent speech on careers

Ryan Gibson is facilitator for the national Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot, taking place in the North East LEP area. Earlier this month the North East LEP was one of a select number of organisations and individuals invited by the Department for Education to attend a speech by the apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon at Westminster Academy in London. During the speech, the minister outlined his vision for careers and emphasised the importance of high quality careers guidance for young people.

Ryan told us more about the speech and what it means for careers education:

The Career Benchmarks pilot started in 2015 and since then I’ve been really proud of what schools in the North East have achieved. The Benchmarks offer a tangible framework for improving careers guidance in schools, and I’ve received lots of feedback about how workable they are in day-to-day school life.

Robert Halfon’s speech placed careers as high priority for schools. Key points of his speech, which align very closely to the work we’re delivering in the pilot, included:

  • The importance of lifelong careers
  • The need to transform careers and bring greater coherence to provision
  • The need for a careers system that works for everyone, building on what works, and expanding both the quantity and quality of careers provision across the country
  • Careers guidance should lead to meaningful, skilled employment and will be central to the new industrial strategy and future productivity
  • He is committed to publishing a comprehensive strategy for all ages later this year.

Most importantly, he stated that ‘all schools and colleges’ should be encouraged to use the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks framework. Happily, this shows that our work to date has paid off – demonstrating best practice and a practical framework that schools can work within.

In conversation with Michelle Rainbow, North East LEP skills for business manager, after the speech, Halfon commented that the North East is ‘leading the way’ in careers education – something I know all of our 16 participating schools and colleges will be delighted to hear. This was reinforced by ‘inspirational’ visits he’d taken at Churchill Community College and Gateshead College over recent months.

The national pilot’s progress is outstanding, particularly the collaboration, innovation and pioneering thinking it is inspiring between education providers, businesses and young people. We are honoured and excited to have the opportunity to work with colleagues at the Department for Education to ensure that the future careers strategy does indeed work for everyone.

The North East LEP will continue to lead this work, both across the region and the country. We will continue to work with the minister and the department to shape and influence future careers strategy, based on the excellent practices that the Benchmarks are inspiring in schools, colleges and businesses across the region.

In addition to the Good Careers Guidance Benchmarks pilot, the North East LEP is also leading the successful Enterprise Adviser scheme, pairing industry leaders with senior management teams in schools to help shape careers guidance for pupils. There are now more than 70 senior business leaders signed up from across the North East to support schools and colleges strategically.

The North East is the only area of the UK to run both of these programmes – a model which is coming to be recognised as best practice – and our ambition is to make them available to each and every school in the region.

Find out more:

Enterprise Advisers