I am not here to promote routes that shout the loudest. I am here to promote routes.

Last week saw the annual Vocational Qualifications Day with much fanfare of awards and tasters and reminders of the need to improve the image and take up of vocational routes.


It’s a worthy cause and gives much to celebrate but amid all of the build up and Press Release snippets a familiar picture is emerging.

#VQDay has a seedier side as #BashCareersDay

For the build up sees the daily news cycle spiked with stories about the “terrible state of careers advice.”


And the day sees the great and the good step up to the plate to deliver negative soundbites about the failure of careers advice.

This bashing though sows the seed for a potential side effect to grow, that the short cut for “Good careers advice” will be “well, we promote vocational routes.”

A seed that the future influx of destination statistics into a school’s data profile could nurture as schools begin to use this information in their own press interactions.

Careers leaders must not allow this to happen and stay the course of promoting ALL quality routes.

It feels lost, amid the razzmatazz, that LMI and the genuine needs of the future job market alongside a considered reflection of their own interests and strengths, should be the real elements of persuasion for young people to consider a vocational route.

A few years back now, I took  some students to a local event that introduced the Labour 14-19 Diploma to them. The venue was awash with balloons, touch screen computers and quick-moving presentations by two twins who were ex contestants on the BBC reality TV show The Restaurant. The youngsters were bowled over by the flash. The problem is those young learners that then took the qualification are probably still waiting for the bang.

I am not here to promote routes that shout the loudest. I am here to promote routes.



  1. Good post – but we’ve got to be careful to distinguish between those people who are criticising government policy on careers and those who are criticism careers work itself. I think that both the Select Committee and the NCC are supporters of careers work and are trying in their different ways to highlight the ways in which things could work better. We can’t pretend that everything is rosy in the garden when it is not.

    But, I very much agree that the way to address this is not just to sign up as the promoters of whatever the latest policy fad is. We’ve got to be on the side of the individual rather than seeking to steer them into the direction that government wants them to go this week.

  2. I take your point about the Select Committee, their report to the Dfe had some of the best ideas for progressing Careers work in schools I’ve read. The quote from Graham Stuart above is without context and, like you say, is likely criticising structure rather than practice.

    And your 2nd paragraph sums up what I was trying to get at with this post more concisely than I managed!

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