Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE ,an expert on Careers Guidance ,recently gave evidence to a Sub-Committee of the Education Select Committee (on Education Skills and the Economy) which is looking at Careers information and guidance. This is timely because the government is currently drafting a new careers strategy. Deirdre mentioned international evidence and the findings of the 7th International Symposium on Career Development and Public Policy held in Iowa (June 2015).What were those key findings, based on contributions from seasoned international guidance professionals? According to Deirdre Hughes:
‘Career development policies, systems and services need to support young people to access work-related learning from an early age. Work-related learning should be a core part of the education system for all young people and include learning about entrepreneurship and social enterprise.
Strategies should aim to provide national co-ordination, benchmarks and evaluation, while respecting the need for regional/local tailoring.
Career development services need to be both widely available and able to contribute to a range of client needs from supported self-help through to intensive personalised support. This requires a diverse workforce, frequently operating through devolved and dispersed networks.
There is a need for a cadre of professional career guidance practitioners in every country who are able to guide, develop and support diversified delivery networks. There is also a need for some career specialists educated at the second and third levels of higher education, to deliver higher-level training courses, undertake research and evaluation nationally, and engage with the international academic community.’
So a big question arises. Are these the areas where the new Careers and Enterprise company and its 18 staff is focusing all its efforts and resources at the moment? I think not. Its work is almost entirely focused on work experience, employer engagement with schools ( a proxy it now seems for professional careers advice and guidance) and expanding enterprise advice and advisers in schools.
Meanwhile, there is a haemorrhaging of experienced careers guidance specialists from the sector, so the cadre of ‘professional career guidance practitioners’ seen as vital ,in Englands case at least , is diminishing daily, something that the new Careers strategy should urgently address. The scary part is that there is a possibility that it might not. If this is the case, then the future of careers guidance in England looks bleak, and the government, moreover, will be seen to have turned its back on evidence led policy.