Securing Indepedent Careers Guidance – FE & Sixth Form Colleges – the mid point of the funnel

Should schools be at the widest point of the funnel?

Following on from the Guidance for secondary schools on securing Independent Careers Guidance, a similar document, but for Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges, has now been published by the Dfe

It’s a good policy document. It’s snappy but covers what it needs to, gives some excellent case studies to spark ideas, offers resource links, busts some myths and speaks glowingly of the good that Careers work can do to guide life chances.

I think though, it’s a document that doesn’t and shouldn’t exist in its own little bubble. Alongside it coherently fits a recent report from Ofsted into the Local Accountability freedoms which FE Colleges and Sixth Forms should be embracing to drive the skills agenda to match the needs in their communities from their nearby employers.

The call is for FE Colleges to:

tailor their provision to meet more specifically the needs of various community groups, local residents, businesses and employers in their locality

The findings of the report, that they hadn’t been utilising their new freedoms to achieve this goal yet, isn’t my focus. My focus is how that vision of College provision should drive Careers work both Colleges and feeder schools.

Because, the vision that FE Colleges should be important skills factories for local areas, sending work ready students out into the local labour market is an exciting one and should have a great impact on the required day-to-day work carried out by FE Careers IAG. If FE Colleges truly do embrace these freedoms and, working collaboratively with Local Enterprise Partnerships, continuously moulded their offers and provision to meet the local skills needs, then Careers workers in those Colleges would need a flexibility to build new links into specific business areas, become experts in routes into those industries and adapt to match the changing subject areas of the College. Their IAG input would happen at a mid-point in the funnel above and their area expertise will need to be all the more in-depth because of it.

So, if they are at the mid-point of the funnel, schools then should surely be the widest point of the funnel. The establishments with employer engagement and interaction from the biggest range of business areas that might skim the surface of those careers but would entice an interest from the young learners. So much variety might seem scatter shot in its execution but, it’s through this provision that hitherto unknown interests could be uncovered. Research from the Education & Employers Taskforce shows how vital these encounters can be

not even at the more complex level of networking or mentoring but purely at the most basic level of igniting a spark or providing a guiding beacon to aim for through the complexity of Post 16 choice.

Is either of these scenarios the case currently? Ofsted say not for FE Colleges and will soon report a verdict for schools, but I think it’s a compelling vision for a section of how things could be for the student journey and where Careers IAG fits into that journey.


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