Last March I wrote in FE Week about how important it is that schools and colleges let students know about all the amazing opportunities in technical education and apprenticeships there are after GCSEs.
It’s not just about higher education, and I’m determined to continue changing that perception. I don’t want one route to a career to be considered better than any other. A levels and full-time academic degrees at our world class universities are right for some people. But for others, T Levels, apprenticeships, or level 4 or 5 qualifications can give them the skills they need to get the jobs they want.
GCSE and A level results days are just round the corner. Young people across the country are making important choices about their future. The significant role parents, colleges and schools play in those choices is clear. They can really have a big influence on the people looking to them for guidance and support. After all, it is their responsibility too.
I spoke in March about the “Baker clause”, which places a legal duty on schools to invite education and training providers to talk to their pupils about technical education and apprenticeships – so that they know what options are available to them. I’m really keen to hear from any providers that have had difficulties with this, or have been blocked from going into schools. I can be contacted via my parliamentary or constituency office.
But the Baker clause is just one part of our reforms to careers advice. In December, we published our careers strategy. In February, we published guidance setting out the expectations for colleges, based on the Gatsby Benchmarks. These benchmarks include the curriculum being linked with careers, students having encounters with employers and employees, personal guidance and learning from career and labour market information. And some schools and colleges are doing this brilliantly. In many, the knowledge about future careers is embedded in all that they do, with local employers being an integral part of that learning.
At the end of June, we received the results of 2,880 self-evaluation responses from schools and colleges. The results showed that on average, colleges were hitting 2 of the 8 Gatsby Benchmarks. I’m glad that we are seeing a steady rise in the number of benchmarks that institutions are meeting, but there is clearly a lot more to do. I believe progress will speed up next year as the careers strategy is implemented. Young people across the country should have the excellent careers guidance they deserve and need.
We want to help colleges meet the ambitions we’ve set out in the careers strategy, and work towards meeting all eight Gatsby Benchmarks. This autumn, The Careers & Enterprise Company will be publishing more detailed analysis of this data, so we can find out about what’s working well now and how we can gets careers advice in schools and colleges to work even better. The Company will also be launching a Compass for Colleges tool to allow colleges to more fully capture the work they are doing on careers provision.
There is already a range of support available to help colleges meet our ambitions. The Careers & Enterprise Company recently published a guide to careers leadership in colleges, which highlights a number of colleges doing this exceptionally well; for example, Scarborough Sixth Form College, Chichester College Group, Sunderland College and Weymouth College. The Company also has its Enterprise Adviser Network – which is already working with 139 colleges, with an enterprise adviser due to be available to every school and college by 2020.
Bursaries for training for careers leaders in colleges will also be offered by The Careers & Enterprise Company from autumn 2018. And we recently announced 20 new Careers Hubs; these consist of up to 40 local schools and colleges working together with universities, training providers, employers and career professionals to improve careers education for young people in the region.
If you are a college or school leader, I urge you to find out more about the support available to help you provide the best possible careers advice. This is about changing the lives of the young people you work with, giving them the chance of a rewarding and fulfilling life.