REPORT ON CAREERS GUIDANCE AS DUTY TRANSFERS TO SCHOOLS
Limited transition planning resulting in confusion
Face to Face advice giving way to remote delivery
Schools unclear of new role in Careers Guidance
A Report ‘ Careers Work with Young People-Collapse or Transition’, from The International Centre for Guidance Studies at Derby University analyses the current information available (in July 2011) about the changes that are taking place in careers work following recent government policy initiatives and public-sector austerity measures. It seems that the current situation veers more towards collapse, than to seamless transition. The report finds that the current environment is having a potentially disastrous impact on the careers profession, as Local Authorities sack Careers advisers and it may well damage Government attempts to re-professionalise the Careers profession. It says that as responsibility for resourcing career guidance has been moved from Local Authorities to schools, this is happening without any transfer of funding. This is likely to reduce substantially the overall capacity to deliver career support for young people.
The report examines the local developments that have emerged in relation to a national policy context in which: Existing careers work is being radically reconfigured.
• The new National Careers Service (NCS) will principally serve adults (apart from its telephone/web-based services, which will cover young people too).
• Securing careers guidance for young people has been made the responsibility of schools.
• The requirement for schools to provide careers education has been removed.
• There has been very limited transition planning at national level: this has led to considerable local confusion.
• In particular, there is continuing confusion about the future relationship of remaining face-to-face Connexions services to the NCS, and about the branding of such services.
Implications for Connexions services, Local Authorities, schools, new market players and the careers profession are identified:
• Connexions services have been seriously damaged by the new environment. Most have made staff cuts, closed centres and undertaken restructuring processes. Some have reduced face-to-face services in favour of remote delivery.
• Many Connexions services have abandoned or reduced universal careers services and focused their services on vulnerable young people.
• Some Connexions services are developing an offer for schools to buy into.
• The Connexions brand seems likely to disappear in a growing number of areas.
• Most Local Authorities have responded to the new policy environment by cutting funding to Connexions services, to a greater extent than the cuts to other services.
• Some Local Authorities have sought a way through the transition by restructuring (frequently by absorbing the remaining Connexions service into the Local Authority).
• Other Local Authorities have begun to explore ways to facilitate the creation of a local school-centred market in careers services.
• It is possible to summarise the main Local Authorities strategies as follows:
o Extreme cutting (at least 12 Local Authorities).
o Focusing solely on vulnerable young people (at least 49 Local Authorities).
o Wait and see (at least 49 Local Authorities).
o Working to sustain universal career guidance (at least 15 Local Authorities)
• The situation for schools is challenging: in addition to the erosion of Connexions, they have also lost support from Aimhigher and Education-Business Partnerships.
• The removal of the statutory duty to provide careers education could result in a focus on “activities” rather than on a developmental curriculum.
• Many schools are unclear what their new responsibilities are and how best to discharge them.
• Some schools are exploring how best to deliver career support, with internal, external and multi-school models being explored.
• It is unclear how much resource schools will be able and willing to allocate to career support services, but it seems likely in most cases to be much less than previous provision.
New market players
• There is some evidence that new players are entering the school careers market, e.g. educational agencies, private career support providers and IT-based solutions.
The careers profession
• The current environment is having a potentially disastrous impact on the careers profession. In particular, the following issues are causing concern:
o Reduction in the number of posts.
o Downward pressure on pay and conditions.
o Loss of specialist careers roles within Local Authorities.
o Loss of experienced staff from the profession.
• These challenges to the careers profession could throw the wider project of re professionalisation, being encouraged and supported by the Government, into doubt.
Local Authorities have limited scope within which to react to the changes that have been made by the
Government. However, there is currently considerable diversity in the models that have begun to emerge. These include:
• Abandonment of universal careers work.
• Stretching of existing resources to continue to deliver a comparable (if significantly reduced) service.
• Encouraging school-based modes of delivery around either a single-school or multi-school approach.
• Development of a contracting-in approach to the delivery of careers services.
This new situation has emerged as a direct result of Government policies and actions. The paper discusses this new policy framework and concludes that:
• A new kind of market in careers work is beginning to emerge as a result of the current environment.
• This market is centred around schools as the sole consumers of careers services, effectively excluding all other stakeholders from direct market participation.
• Responsibility for resourcing career guidance has been moved from Local Authorities to schools, but without any transfer of funding.
• This is likely to reduce substantially the overall capacity to deliver career support for young people.
• The Government needs to review its roles in relation to the market in career support, in terms of:
o Stimulating the career support market in order to build its capacity.
o Regulating this market and assuring the quality of services within it.
o Compensating for market failures.
The paper concludes by setting out some key policy questions for the Government, for Local Authorities, for the careers profession, and for schools.
Careers Work with Young People: Collapse or Transition? An analysis of current developments in careers education and guidance for young people in England Tristram Hooley & A.G. Watts; iCeGS