The Scottish conundrum

While the recent CEIAG landscape in English secondary schools has suffered the slings and arrows of funding cuts, critical report after critical report and the general disdain of prominent voices in the business community, the picture north of the border has been increasingly held up to be a much more structured and cohesive system.

Presentations were made, praise was given and, overall, those of us in England who take notice of such things, sat there pining for the way things could be.

Which is why it was interesting to see this article in the Herald Scotland, the report it covers and in particular this quote from CBI Scotland Director Hugh Aitken

He added that the careers system remained a “weak link” in the system with the “vast majority” of businesses think it was not good enough with vocational routes “undersold” to young people.

The report, Delivering Excellence: A new approach for schools in Scotland, goes on to say

cbi scotland careers views

Unfortunately the current provision in Scotland is simply not up to the mark and businesses are seeing no sign of improvement (Exhibit 17). Four out of five businesses (85%) across Scotland feel the quality of careers advice young people receive is not good enough to help them make informed decisions about future career options. Only 4% consider the quality of current careers advice to be adequate.

My point is not about which view is ‘correct’ on the quality of careers provision in Scotland but that, no matter what Careers practitioners or even clients think about the quality of service on offer, there will always be another taskmaster in the mix. A taskmaster seemingly consistently dissatisfied with the workforce prepared by all parts of the education system.

I’ve posted before on how business representatives regularly adapt their requirements on education to always have a further target or how a “what we need now is…” always turns up at the end of the press release. Like Sisyphus, the boulder never seems to stay at the top of the hill. It’s worth bearing this conflict of views on the careers service in Scotland in mind when you read the next education headline or news story with a quote from a business leader or MP starting with, “Businesses tell me….”



  1. Really interesting blog – especially for those of us North of the border! The word ‘undersold’ is particularly interesting in terms of what this suggests the role of careers advisers is perceived to be (selling or promoting opportunities). As a careers adviser I’m not sure I ever really consider myself a sales person!

    1. I know what you mean, it’s definitely the language of the boardroom rather than the guidance meeting. Sometimes though, I’d go far enough to say I have to be a “cheerleader” for something, working with teenagers. Some of them need convincing!

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