The names of more than 60 FE colleges set to play key roles in new hubs, which the education secretary Damian Hinds has said will transform careers education across England, have been unveiled.
But question marks have been raised over how viable it will be for the colleges to implement the required changes, as the hub support fund amounts to just £1,000 per provider.
This is despite the Department for Education announcing an overall allocation of £5 million over two years to support the hubs’ development.
There will be 20 careers hubs in every region outside of London, which will comprise colleges working with local schools and universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to pool their expertise on improving careers education.
These form a central part of the government’s careers strategy, published in December, which focused the need to implement eight key “Gatsby benchmark” standards.
“The careers hubs announced today will support young people with the right advice to help them make decisions about their future by building better links with employers and providing practical guidance and support to improve the provision of careers advice,” said Mr Hinds.
Other financial support on offer was said to include funding of up to £3,500 for 15 colleges and schools in each hub to train a “careers leader”.
In areas facing “the greatest need”, schools and colleges will also “have access to a ‘virtual wallet’” of up to £5,000 each to fund what CEC calls “employer encounters” – which enable contacts to be established between employers and learners.
“Obviously the funding is really important, and we’re delighted to be able to offer this support to colleges and schools,” the spokesperson added.
“But it’s also worth highlighting the benefit to the colleges and schools of the joined-up approach, mutual support and sharing of best practice that comes with being within the network.”
Catherine Sezen, senior policy manager at the Association of Colleges, spoke positively of the new initiative. “To make informed choices for the future, young people need high quality, impartial careers information about all post-16 education and training options,” she said.
“We have long been calling for an improvement to the system and welcome the changes outlined.”
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership piloted the careers hub model from 2015 to 2017.
The government asked the CEC to “scale up” their model by establishing hubs across the country.
The north east is, however, the only region that will get a college-only hub.
A spokesperson for the regional local enterprise partnership said this was because they “know there are different challenges of scale and structure for colleges, which schools will not necessarily understand with regards to implementing the Gatsby benchmarks”.
These markers, set out through the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Good Career Guidance, include the need to link curriculum learning to careers, and to learn from career and labour market information.
The colleges involved with each careers hub: