A 140 page research paper from the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills isn’t something that would usually take up my reading time the week before Christmas but I made a special exception this year as a) it comes at a time of positive change in the sector with news of a new all singing, all dancing Careers Company and b) I was interviewed for the paper and my school gets a mention (cough, page 112, cough and in the interviews from page 46, further cough).
With the announcement of the new Careers Company whose role it will be to try to co-ordinate the sporadic, tangled and often overlapping interactions between schools, employers and the National Careers Service (and all of the organisations in-between those gaps such as EBPs, new versions of EBPs, guidance providers, careers resources providers, national schemes etc) the findings and conclusions of this paper will be required reading for Christine Hodgson, Head of Capgemini UK, who has been tasked with leading the new Company.
Some of the things in the report that she will probably note:
- All of the schools in the case study section (pages 110 – 115) have a Careers lead in their establishment. That role requires a Head or Principal to a) fund it and b) think CEIAG is important enough to fund and staff in the first place. That importance and funding seems to be hitting a breaking point for work experience for KS4 though. The Wolf report is still being used as a white flag for cash strapped schools to retreat from offering this provision.
- Schools want brokerage (point 6, page 6), they want local cohesion and organisation. Employers also want this (point 3, page 5) as it would lower costs and efforts their end.
- Employers don’t even know the National Careers Service exists (point 8, page 6) so before it is expected to fulfill lots of new tasks, some work on spreading the word needs to be done.
- The numbers of employers involving themselves with engagement activities other than work experience is pitifully small (table 3.1, page 21) and by far the largest initiator of those activities was the employer being approached by the school or college (table 3.2, page 22) rather than the employer offering something. Lots of schools nagging employers leads to the disjointed landscape we have now and, again, local brokerage could begin to untie these knots.
- More than half of employers had never engaged with education (page 25). There’s a massive job of persuasion still to do especially with SMEs.
- Already existing local business networks such as Chambers of Commerce are still pretty untapped by schools looking for employer engagement (table 4.3, page 37).
- It’s pretty clear what brokerage role schools want from a National Careers Service with expanded duties (page 51) which is also what the Service wants to do but doesn’t have the cash (page 56).
- Employers see Local Enterprise Partnerships as having a key role in local brokerage (page 75).
- Schools really want clear LMI to help guide their students (page 75).
It will be those findings that (should) shape the tentative steps of the new Careers Company in the new year as it begins to lay out the structures and frameworks that will help organise and standardise employer engagement at regional and local levels for schools and colleges.