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Careers – Guidance for Colleges from the DfE
February 1, 2018

Updated guidance for further education colleges and sixth-form colleges on how to provide independent careers guidance has been published by the Department for Education, today (1st February 2018).

 This guide sets out how to provide careers guidance to students:

Main points

  • The Government expects all FE colleges to have the matrix Standard as a requirement of their grant funding agreement. The matrix Standard is a national standard which externally evaluates an organisation’s effective delivery of information, advice and guidance. The Standard looks at management and accountability, how the college provides the service, the quality of delivery and how the college evaluates and continuously develops the service.
  • Government’s reforms set out in the Post 16-Skills Plan5 will help meet the needs of our growing and rapidly changing economy by raising the prestige of technical education. FE colleges will have a key role in delivering these reforms. There will be 15 high-quality routes to skilled employment which group together occupations where there are shared training requirements. New T level programmes will sit within each route. Alongside apprenticeships as our high quality work-based option, T levels will form the basis of our new technical education offer.
  • All 16 to 19 study programmes6 should be focussed on progression to learning at the next level or to employment. In order to support this, learners will need access to high-quality support to make decisions about the next step that is right for them and to aspire to achieve their full potential. It is a requirement for 16- to 18-year-olds (and 19- to 25-year-olds with a current EHC Plan) in college to have access to independent careers guidance.
  • Colleges are committed to improving the life chances of their learners and many already offer high quality careers programmes to meet their requirement. Evidence points to the need to go further. Too many learners leave learning as soon as they complete their first post-16 qualification. The FE Choices Survey , asking learners about satisfaction with their course, found that the element which has consistently received the lowest satisfaction rating over the last three years was “advice learners had been given about what they could do after their course had finished” (33% in 2015, 33% in 2016 and 30% in 2017 of learners gave a rating of 7 or lower out of 10).
  • The Government’s careers strategy7, published on 4 December 2017, sets out a long- term plan to build a world-class careers system that will help young people and adults choose the career that is right for them. This guidance has been updated to expand on the measures set out in the strategy: to make sure that all young people get a programme of advice and guidance that is stable, structured and delivered by individuals with the right skills and experience.
  • The Benchmarks go further by defining all of the elements of an excellent careers programme, based on the best national and international research. Government recognises that the work needed to meet all eight Benchmarks will vary for each college. Government’s expectation is that colleges begin to work towards the Benchmarks now and meet them by the end of 2020. An online self-evaluation tool, Compass, will be available in September 2018 for colleges to assess how their careers support compares against the Gatsby Benchmarks and the national average.
  • The careers strategy explains that both co-ordinated external support and appropriately skilled and experienced careers leadership in the college are important to meet the Benchmarks. This guidance explains what support will be made available to colleges between now and 2020.
  • The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) will provide external support to colleges. In 2014, the Government established the CEC to provide the strategic co-ordination for employers, schools, colleges, funders and careers programme providers to create high impact careers and enterprise support to young people (aged 12-18). The CEC’s initial focus has been on employer engagement, based on evidence of giving young people more opportunities to connect with employers of all sizes, and from all sectors. These encounters will inspire learners and allow them to learn about what work is like, or what it takes to be successful in the workforce. The careers strategy confirmed that the CEC will take on a more ambitious role, building on their progress to date by coordinating support for colleges across all of the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • The careers strategy sets out that every college needs a Careers Leader who has the energy and commitment, and backing from their senior leadership team, to deliver the careers programme across all eight Gatsby Benchmarks. In larger colleges this might be a Careers Leadership team. Government will make more information and support available in 2018 to support colleges to develop and train Careers Leaders.
  • The way in which careers guidance will continue to be considered during Ofsted inspection is set out in Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework10 and the Ofsted FE and Skills Inspection Handbook.11 Ofsted is legally required to comment, in an inspection report, on the careers guidance provided to learners at colleges. This will apply to all 16- to-18-year-olds, and learners up to the age of 25 with an EHC Plan.12 While the statutory duty applies only to the inspection of colleges, inspectors will inspect and comment in similar fashion on careers advice on short and full inspections of all further education and skills providers as appropriate.
  • A successful careers guidance programme will also be reflected in higher numbers of learners progressing to positive destinations such as apprenticeships, technical routes, higher education or employment. Destination measures provide clear and comparable information on the success of colleges in helping all of their learners follow a curriculum that offer them the best opportunity to continue in education or training. We publish 16-18 (KS5) education destinations in performance tables on gov.uk13, meaning that they are becoming an established part of the accountability system.

  1. Hi, Just read the notes and the DfE document and wonder if it applies to independent training providers who deal with 16-18 year-old learners as it seem to refer mainly to schools? could we have more clarity please?

    • As highlighted in the recently posted Careers England Newsletter 124, the guidance published by The Department for Education on careers guidance is currently only for further education colleges and sixth form colleges. However, it is suggested that other providers of post-16 education and training, including independent training providers, should follow this guidance as a statement of good practice.

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