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Transforming careers guidance and the impact on social mobility

Ryan Gibson, Facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at the North East LEP, gives his thoughts on the recent House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility report.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility released a report on Friday 8 April that argued that young people who do not go to university are ‘overlooked and left behind’.

It suggested students leave the education system without the skills necessary for
work and life and more should be done to ‘improve careers guidance and advice for young people’.

Baroness Corston, Chairman of The Select Committee on Social Mobility, was interviewed on BBC News and said “…schools, employers, FE Colleges and LEPs have no means of working together, and they should have.”

Whilst I don’t disagree with the report’s contents or the recommendations outlined by the Committee, I – like many of my colleagues in the North East – were surprised there was no mention of the innovative work the North East LEP is doing with the Gatsby Foundation to transform careers guidance not just here in the region, but across the country.

The North East LEP, in partnership with the Gatsby Foundation, is currently piloting the National Career Benchmarks; eight clearly defined benchmarks for good career guidance, that when implemented, will improve students’ transition from school to work by allowing them to make fully informed decisions about their future.

The eight benchmarks are:

1. A stable careers programme
2. Learning from career and labour market information
3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
5. Encounters with employers and employees
6. Experiences of work places
7. Encounters with further and higher education
8. Personal guidance

The pilot is already moving apace. Only last week we awarded the first of our partner schools funding to begin work on their innovative ideas to improve careers education.

Of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee Report, I’m proud to say many of these are already being addressed in the North East LEP region.

The need for ‘professional careers guidance that is independent of schools or colleges, delivered face-to-face, helping them to choose their individual routes forward’ is something we’re addressing through the benchmarks, which require schools and colleges to ensure that ‘every student should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers adviser…trained to the appropriate level…and be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made…timed to meet individual needs.

Another recommendation from the report is ‘young people need careers education in schools which is embedded into and fits alongside the curriculum and is informed by labour market information.’ Again, this is something we are helping to facilitate in the North East through the Enterprise Adviser initiative, strategically linking business leaders with schools and colleges across the region, in mutually beneficial partnerships, to help bridge the gap between education and the world of work. We already have the support of a number of education and business organisations and the Department for Education are working very closely with us.

There are other key recommendations the Benchmarks are delivering on, including the importance of work experience and our work, here in the North East, suggests there is no single ‘magic bullet’ for transforming this agenda. Rather it is about doing a number of things, identified within the eight benchmarks of good career guidance, doing them consistently, doing them well and doing them for each and every student.

Together with partners in Government, education and the business sector we are hoping to bring about significant change to the quality and delivery of careers education in the England and I’m happy to report the collaboration needed to make this happen is beginning to take place. Whilst there is still work to be done, we are starting to see the indications of impact already.

Ultimately this project is about helping young people make fully informed decisions about their future by better connecting them to information, advice and opportunities so that they can be inspired about their future, improving the pathway to work and delivering business growth. I take it as a positive that here in the North East we are already addressing many of the recommendations outlined in the Select Committee report.

If anyone has any questions about the Gatsby National Career Benchmarks Pilot, please feel free to contact me via [email protected].

Ryan Gibson
Facilitator for the Careers Benchmark Pilot at the North East LEP

To read The Select Committee report on Social Mobility in full, click here.