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Careers advice 'lottery' needs overhaul, says National Careers Council

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Careers advice and services in schools need to be urgently improved, according to a report by the National Careers Council.

The National Careers Council, an advisory body set up by the government, first issued a report on careers provision in June 2013. The latest report says that progress since then has been slower than hoped, with many young people not receiving the advice they need.

The report highlights that receiving decent careers advice is a postcode lottery. It shows that while one region in England has 134 careers advice providers, another has only one.

It also says that high investment in adult career services is coming at the expense of advice for young people. It says that with schools now facing the biggest change to the provision of careers advice in almost 40 years (a statutory duty to secure access to advice for pupils), the government must provide more support.

The report makes four key recommendations:

1. The government should establish an employer-led advisory board to advise on careers provision.
2. The government should provide school and colleges with free and/or subsidised access to independent and impartial career development professionals’ expertise.
3. The National Careers Service should improve its website to make it more appealing to young people, parents and teachers.
4. The government should support the scaling up of existing and successful initiatives and the piloting of innovative local models.

Deidre Hughes, chair of the National Careers Council, said “a culture change in careers [is] urgently needed”.

“Some progress has been made in the last 12 months, but this has been far too slow,” she added. “Meanwhile, our education and labour markets remain complex and confusing for young people, parents and teachers. We urge government and others to take action across England to halt the rapid decline in careers services for young people."

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, added that shifting responsibility for careers advice to schools had been a “failure”.

“Schools, government and businesses all have a role to play in fixing the problem, it cannot be shouldered by schools alone,” he said.