Young people are increasingly facing a postcode lottery of careers guidance, which the introduction of school-based provision will be incapable of alleviating, the union Unison has warned.
Unison warned that schools could not adequately replace existing services provided by Connexions. Image: Emilie Sandy
In its submission to a Department for Education consultation on careers guidance for young people, the union said that the all age National Careers Service and in-school provision will be unable to match up to local authority careers advice.
From September schools will take over responsibility for securing access to independent careers advice for all pupils in years 9 to 11. But Unison warned that schools could not adequately replace existing services provided by Connexions without funding from government.
“The government cannot just tell schools that they have to do more – young people deserve better,” said Unison general secretary Dave Prentis.
“We are urging the government to step up, provide sufficient resources and help restore the high quality careers services that young people need.”
The union warned that careers advice provision has begun to vary wildly across the country since funding for Connexions services was cut.
In Birmingham, more than two-thirds of careers advice staff have lost their jobs and only one advice centre remains open. In six London boroughs, every Connexions office has closed and in Hull the number of careers advisers has been reduced from 81 to 18.
“None of the £200m that it is estimated local authorities spent on the career guidance element of Connexions in 2009/10 is being devolved to schools – the money needed to fulfil the statutory duty is not there,” the union said.
Unison added that whilst it supports the government proposal to extend the duty on schools so that it covers Year 8 pupils as well, the move could “compound problems” with access to services, unless funding for provision were increased.
The consultation submission meanwhile argued that school-based careers advice is inherently more limited than advice provided through local authorities.
“School-based guidance systems tend to have weak links with the labour market, to view educational choices as ends in themselves rather than as career choices, to lack impartiality (promoting their own provision rather than college- or work-based routes) and to be patchy in extent and quality,” the union said.
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