careers

A letter to the new Careers Statutory Guidance for schools January 2018

So, we meet again, my old friend the Careers Statutory Guidance for schools. It’s been a long journey we’ve been on, you and I. It was way back in 2012 that you first appeared, much slimmer than your current form and with an almost naive belief that your lack of specificity or detail would encourage schools to cope with a new set of responsibilities suddenly thrust upon them.

Since then, year by year, you’ve grown and expanded. In 2013 you talked more about the “responsibilities” of a school

perhaps fearful that schools hadn’t paid much attention to your first appearance.

In 2014, you updated again, this time shaped by Matt Hancock who included much more on the positives of school/employer interaction.

By your 2015 incarnation, you were approaching a level of detail that brought warmer words from the professional bodies. The references to Quality Awards, employer engagement, professional face to face guidance where at least there, if the wording of could/should/must still sparked debate. By now though the continual expansion of the Duty document and the recommendations contained were in danger of designing a roof without worrying about the walls.

And so we reach your latest edition, “Careers Guidance and access for education and training providers January 2018” which is your most comprehensive to date. I understand that you can’t really help this bloat, since your inception the landscape around you has grown and you have to acknowledge this. You have to reference:

  • Careers & Enterprise Company
  • The recent Careers Strategy
  • The Baker Clause
  • What Ofsted will inspect
  • The Gatbsy benchmarks
  • Compass
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships

and all of the things still to come

careers stat jan 2018

I want to commend you on much of your content, you’re full of recommendations and suggestions that Careers professionals working in schools would heartily agreed with. Of course Careers Leaders (to use your terminology) would want to include providers of all routes in their careers work, track and monitor the destinations of students, challenge work stereotypes, engage with employers, contract personal providers, consider and plan for the skills needs of the local labour market and work with all relevant stakeholders for the good of all pupils. The detail is there on how to achieve these things, the resources to use, the steps to take, the clarity provided by the Gatbsy benchmarks is wholly helpful.

You outline the “why” we want to achieve these things in a way that, again, would be music to a Careers professionals’ ears

good careers guidance connects learning to the future. It motivates young people by giving them a clearer idea of the routes to jobs and careers that they will find engaging and rewarding. Good careers guidance widens pupils’ horizons, challenges stereotypes and raises aspirations. It provides pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to make successful transitions to the next stage of their life.

But here, I’m afraid, the praise and welcoming tone of my letter to you must end for you hope to achieve so much, yet offer so little. Much like your Careers Strategy step-father, your ambition outstretches your reach. Money, it seems, is not worthy of a mention.

To satisfy your requirements now, schools will need to fund

  • a salary at a level to entice a capable Careers Leader
  • funding for L6 IAG training for the Careers Leader (or) a contract with a L6 qualified provider
  • funding for work experience
  • funding for coach trips to events such as the Skills Show, employer visits or visits to other providers such as Universities
  • a budget to cover the costs of events in school
  • admin support for this post

And, because of the need from September 2018 to publish their Careers plan, schools will have to think carefully about the provision they publicly commit to and the funding this will require from future budgets. And this omission is not for the lack of numbers. We know that Gatbsy & PWC did the work in great detail.

gatsby 1

You’ve just chosen to ignore it and hope that, somehow, schools will just deal with these new costs every year.

I’m sure that we’ll meet again soon, you already mention a September 2018 update, in the meantime I hope that you acknowledge, at least, that quality outcomes do not just come from standards papers. Investment begets performance and that the level of quality provision you outline does require, I’m afraid, investment.

Advertisements

For those planning trips…

For those of us in CEIAG roles in schools, a frequent part of the job is to organise and run trips. Be it to a place of work, to another educational establishment or to a special event, it feels like I’m always chasing reply slips from students, filing out risk assessment forms and herding children onto coaches driven by wary drivers. It’s also at this time of a new academic year that we sit down and try to plan out what trips will take place for what year groups to achieve what aims throughout the terms. Need some apprenticeship info? Stick a visit into a local Engineering firm here. Some options advice? An afternoon of tasters at the nearby FE college about then. We all know though that, despite this careful planning and best intentions, that trips can be tricky things to pull off smoothly as this recent callout from musician and writer, Rhodri Marsden

showed with some great responses. No matter whether it’s the kids being kids, the sheer barminess of the actual point of the trip or just fate, trips are things which school children remember and cherish (sometimes not for the reasons you intend!) and gain huge amounts from. So, no matter the admin hurdles to overcome, put on some trips this year.

And a careers one to finish

The (occasionally NSFW) Storify is here.

Just what is the truth about the scale of school + business interaction?

Education is like all other areas of public policy in that there are always plenty of people offering plenty of solutions. As any practitioner in the field will tell you, many of those suggested solutions can take more inspiration from the ideals of the proposer rather than the actual state of affairs on the ground and, sometimes, even getting a clear enough picture of the state of affairs on the ground can be tricky enough.

With this in mind I thought it would be useful to compare and contrast five (semi) recent surveys and reports that are actually attempting to do just that in regard to the scale and scope of the links currently held between schools and the world of business. This is a hot policy potato with the Government having already prescribed the medicine with early steps of the newly formed £20m Careers Company expected in September.

So, what do we think we know:

1. REPORT: Inspiring Growth: Pearson/CBI Education & Skills Survey 2015

SCALE: “The survey was conducted online in the spring of 2015. Useable responses were received from 310 employers”

HEADLINE STATISTICS: 

The positive balance of firms expecting to need more employees with higher skills stands at +65% in 2015

55% Employers not confident of being able to recruit sufficient high-skilled employees in the future

Around two thirds (66%) of the businesses responding to this survey are involved in apprenticeships

By far the most important factors employers weigh up when recruiting school and college leavers are attitudes (85%) and aptitudes (58%). These rank well ahead of formal qualifications

A majority of businesses remain concerned about the preparation of school leavers in important areas including business and customer awareness (66%), self-management (61%) and foreign language skills (60%)

Across respondents as a whole, three quarters (73%) have at least some links with schools or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (55%) and FE colleges (53%)

The biggest obstacles to extending and deepening business involvement are uncertainty over how to make work experience worthwhile (28%), lack of interest among schools or pupils (25%) and problems in fitting involvement with the school timetable (23%)

Among employers with links to schools and colleges, the two most common forms of support are offering work experience placements (74%) and providing careers advice and talks (71%).

The overwhelming majority of employers believe the quality of careers advice for young people is not good enough (by a balance of -70%)

Nearly two thirds of businesses (60%) report that they are willing to play a greater role in supporting careers provision in schools and colleges.

SUMMARY QUOTES: 

Katja Hall – Deputy Director General CBI

“Of course, the long-term solution to the skills challenge lies in education, and some of the reforms in recent years have brought improvements. But we still have a system where too many young people are allowed to fall behind and never catch up. The system must change, with more focus on developing the aptitudes and attributes that set young people up for success in both work and life – which matter much more to employers when recruiting than academic results alone.

More and more businesses are playing their part – engaging with schools, colleges and universities and investing in workforce training – though there is a need for more. But government at all levels also needs to raise its game in helping young people to develop the higher skills and workplace readiness that are increasingly necessary to ensure a prosperous future for them and for the UK as a whole.”

COMMENT:

As you would expect from the CBI, this is a document that places high demands and expectations on the public sector while also showing its members in the private sector in the best possible light. Considering that, in England, around only 8% of employers offer apprenticeships, the fact that 66% of respondents to this survey are “involved” shows how selective the base of employers involved here was. The expectations and demands on the education sector are in many cases clear and sensible but the bemoaning of too many students not achieving C grades or above in either English or Maths shows a clear lack of understanding of how Ofqual’s comparable outcomes system works. The clear messages from the results show employers are frustrated with the overwhelming focus on qualifications to the detriment of soft skills they value even more should be very useful to add more power to the elbow of those pushing for a more rounded approach from school leaders. Also the percentage of respondents who are already involved and wish to increase their involvement in schools is very positive.

2. REPORT: Mapping careers provision in schools & colleges in England DfE July 2015 research report

SCALE: In total, there were 107 responses to the survey, a response rate of 21%. The response came from a range of providers: 34 schools with sixth forms, 34 schools without sixth forms and 39 further education providers.

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

Schools without sixth forms were more likely to offer work experience to Years 10 to 11 (88%) compared to schools with sixth forms (74%) and more colleges provided work experience to Years 12 and 13 (90%) compared to schools with sixth forms (71%)

Lecturer or industry specialist visits were more commonly used for Years 10 to 11 in schools without sixth forms (94%, versus 77% of schools with sixth forms)

The majority (88%) of respondents reported that students received skills development or employability education (e.g. time management, interview preparation) in the form of lessons/class time.

methods for contacting people who work july 2015

In terms of creating formal arrangements with employers for work experience, the response was mixed. Over half of respondents said that their institution did not have these in place (54%), with the remainder (46%) stating that they did have such arrangements with employers.

SUMMARY QUOTES:

Budget limitations were most commonly reported to be a key challenge to providing excellent careers provision that meets the needs of staff, students and parents/carers.

Nearly all institutions helped students to gain contact with employers to learn about careers/jobs. This was through a range of methods, common ones being, external employer speakers, lecturers or industry specialists visiting schools/colleges, workplace visits and work experience. These links were more likely to be offered to older year groups (Year 10 onwards). Some institutions did not use these methods at all, 13% said they did not provide workplace visits and 8% said they did not provide work experience

COMMENTS:

If the findings from the CBI data are potentially skewed by the small number of already invested respondents, then this report is even more in danger of falling into that trap. To be fair, it is something the authors are at pains to point out throughout the document,

As with any self-reported assessment, we should exercise a degree of caution as to whether the respondents would have a particularly positive or representative view of the provision within their school, since careers guidance was a significant part of their job.

Even with these dangers of too positive a response, this did not dissuade the TES in finding a negative slant in their story on it.

With these large caveats there are some positive figures, the survival of KS4 work experience surprised me and the range of employer interaction is great to see, but ultimately I am extremely hesitant about standing firm on any of the results as a stand alone piece of work.

3. REPORT: CDI Survey of Career Education and Guidance in Schools and Links with Employers May 2015

SCALE: From an online survey: “A total of 319 responses were received, which represents 10% of all secondary schools in England. Just under a half (46%) were from academies with a sixth form and a further 10% were from academies without a sixth form; 27% were from local authority maintained schools (16% with a sixth form, 11% without a sixth form); eight percent of the responses were from independent schools. The remaining responses came from special schools (5), sixth form colleges (5), UTCs (3) and a studio school, free schools (2) and a pupil referral unit.”

Although some questions did have a large percentage of non responses.

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

24% of respondents used a member of staff, more often someone who was not a teacher. Five schools responded to say that they did not provide access to impartial career guidance and a further 24% of respondents skipped this question in the survey.

66% of respondents reported that the person providing impartial career guidance held a recognised professional qualification in career guidance, but in only 57% of cases was the qualification at QCF Level 6 or above

17% of all respondents used a local or regional education-business partnership (EBP) to help broker links with employers and 32% used Inspiring the Future or other link organisations.Over 40% of respondents said they organised all the links themselves, and 35% omitted to respond to the question.

In 56% of respondents a member of the senior leadership group had overall responsibility for career education and guidance but in only 35% was there a senior leader with overall responsibility for school-business links.

37% of respondents reported having a link governor for careers and employer links.

SUMMARY QUOTES:

From the press release:

Worryingly, the survey indicates that now career education is no longer compulsory, up to a third of schools have dropped it from the curriculum, and a larger proportion have no career education in the early years of secondary education

Many, but by no means all, schools are making impartial career guidance available to at least those students identified as needing support but in over 40% of the schools that responded to the survey the interviews are not provided by an adviser qualified to Level 6.

Schools are providing a wide range of employer activities but many would welcome more support with identifying relevant contacts and organising activities.

COMMENTS:

Like Report number 2, this includes responses from only the education side of the fence but still strikes a better balance between highlighting some positive work (the range of employer interaction) and voicing concerns about the outcomes that they disapprove of (the falling amount of dedicated careers education time and the number of practitioners not qualified to Level 6 standard). The high percentage of non responses to some questions does cause me to pause though. It is a natural tendency to assume that a lack of a submitted answer means the respondent did not want to include a negative truth but as the aims of the survey are to, “inform the work of the new independent careers and enterprise company recently established by the Department for Education (DfE) as it prepares its initial work plan” getting this right is a must. The Careers Company has the relatively meager budget of £20m to make an impact and allocating its resources should rely on more than assumptions. Again, like Report 2, the results are better placed as part of a wider context.

4. REPORT: Understanding the link between employers and schools and the role of the National Careers Service – BiS December 2014

SCALE: Survey data were collected from 301 employers and from 98 educational establishments (78 schools and 20 colleges). Whilst the sampling was not representative, data provide vivid indications of patterns and trends illustrative of the types of interactions currently existing between schools and employers. Survey data were supplemented by in-depth interviews with career representatives in 12 schools/colleges selected from the survey sample. Additionally, six case studies were undertaken on schools/colleges from the sample of 12 to provide detailed examples of good practice

HEADLINE STATISTICS:

employer engagement bis report Dec 2014

school engagement with employers Dec 2014

SUMMARY QUOTES:

Of all employers surveyed, nearly half had previously been engaged with schools/ colleges. Employers who offered apprenticeship or other types of training to young people were more likely to engage with schools/colleges and there is some evidence that larger companies were more likely to engage with schools/colleges than smaller companies. The most frequently mentioned types of engagement were work experience and/or visits from school or college students. Altruistic reasons were the most important for engaging with schools/colleges, with employers thinking that it was a ‘good thing to do’, and/or that it facilitated local community engagement.

More than half of all engaged employers had undertaken some type of activity in the last half-year. Main reasons for a lack of more regular engagement were threefold: lack of time and resources; unwillingness of schools (unable or not interested); and the age restriction preventing employment of staff under the age of 18 years. Approximately half of all engaged employers indicated that these activities had not had any benefit to their business.

Approximately half of all employers surveyed had never engaged with schools or colleges. Nearly all indicated that they were not interested in linking with schools or colleges in the future, because of lack of time and resources; financial reasons, and/or barriers created by health and safety and insurance regulations. Some stated that they could not see any potential benefit to their businesses of this activity.

COMMENTS:

So we come to the only survey whose methodology tasked it with gaining views from both sides of the conundrum. The mix of survey and interview results allows for both some headline percentages and some longer form answers to emerge across the reports 140 (!) pages. The most striking aspect of the findings is how well they agree with the answers from one side (education) and much they disagree with the results from the other (business). It would seem that asking CEIAG folk in schools gets you a pretty positive picture about the work they do. Who would guess? On the other hand, the large disparity between the amount of employers involved in engagement activities (and those wanting to be involved) in these findings and the CBI results is noticeable. From a similar number of employers, the differences are pretty big; the CBI says 74% offered work experience while here only 32%, the CBI says 71% had performed careers talks while here the figure is a measly 7%.

5. REPORT: UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013: UK Results – January 2014

SCALE: Fieldwork for the core survey was undertaken between March and July 2013, and involved over 91,000 interviews. Fieldwork for the follow-up Investment in Training Survey was undertaken in May to July 2013, and involved more than 13,000 interviews with employers who had taken part in the first survey. An overall response rate of 44 per cent was achieved for the core survey.

HEADLINE STATISTICS/SUMMARY QUOTES:

The main obstacle to (more) young people getting new jobs is competition in the market place. Half of recruiting employers who had not recruited young job applicants had opted instead for older candidates who were better placed; in this instance young people who applied for these jobs may have been suitable, but the recruiters opted for a candidate over the age of 25 to fill the role. Where young applicants were not considered to meet the requirements of the role, the main reasons cited were lack of skills and experience, and sometimes both. Three in five recruiting employers (61 per cent) who had not recruited a young person said they had had no applications from young people.

Most employers find the education leavers they take on to be well or very well prepared for work, although as many as four in ten employers taking on school leavers at 16 from schools in England, Northern Ireland or Wales described the recruits as poorly prepared

Where employers considered young applicants not to meet requirements, the majority (63 per cent) said they lacked the necessary skills and 61 per cent relevant work experience. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said they lacked both.

COMMENTS: 

This is a huge piece of work and covers a much wider remit than just school/employer interaction which is why the Executive Summary is such a godsend. It is the oldest of the reports as the scale of the survey means it is only carried out every two years and data is currently being collected for the next one.

What it does add to this post though is a scale of respondents not seen in all of the other reports and a divergent view. The much more positive view (still with room for improvements) of the employability skills of young people from employers is at odds with the more downbeat findings of the CBI. The context around these findings and the steps that should be taken to improve the chances of young people finding work were covered brilliantly in this blog at the time. If it’s work experience they lack, offer young people the chance to gain it. As we’ve seen, the CBI says the business community is doing this, the education community and the report from BiS seem less convinced.

OVERALL:

As I hope you’ve seen, finding the balance of truth in all of this is tricky. Out of five reports, only one bridges the divide between employers and schools and spoke to both sides of the fence. Where only one side was consulted, the simplistic take is that the home view is always that most things are rosey and there is plenty of goodwill to find further improvements. Of course it’s not that simple, the CDI report is not afraid to point out where it thinks schools are failing and the CBI report consistently says that businesses should be doing more to work with education. Perhaps though the lesson for policy makers should be that, when making policy decisions in this area in future, they should be more demanding for data work that bridges the divide and takes views from a balance across both sides of the employers/schools fence.

An Autumn Statement dollar, dollar bill y’all

Today was a good news day in CEIAG world. At the Autumn Statement to the House of Commons, George Osborne pulled a Careers rabbit out of the hat and promised a £20 million cash injection into Careers advice for young people.

added to the recent contract changes to the National Careers Service and the funding equivalence involved (5% of about £109.5m)

it is great to see this vital work with young people getting cash backing. It was certainly welcomed by the National Careers Council

NCC chairwoman Deirdre Hughes said: “It is great to see the government recognising that more needs to be done to support young people with career decisions.

“This is an important step in the right direction. The key will be how the funds will be used to have the greatest impact and I will be very interested to see how the plans unfold.

“It would always be good to have more money. One of our three options we gave to government to improve services was costed at £17.5 million, so £20 million is a good step.”

So does that mean that George was all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we’re all going to be

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well no, not quite. Cast your mind back to the Gatsby Foundation report which asked Price Waterhouse Coopers to cost a comprehensive and quality school Careers program. Their conclusion was, “that the total cost of achieving all the benchmarks in a typical school will be £53,637 in the first year and £44,676 per annum thereafter.” Their costing for all secondary schools in England to achieve the benchmarks would then be, “£172 million per year from the second year onwards.”

Of course asking for around another £150m when you’ve just been given £20m seems churlish and unhelpful but, we should remember that this funding promise is just a start and that £20m will have to be spent extremely prudently for discernible impacts to be felt.

Send your examples of Careers best practice into Matthew Hancock

In a recent letter to Chairs of Learning Providers and FE Colleges (4th April 2014) Skills Minister Matthew Hancock gave an update on the numerous changes happening across the sector. Attached to the letter was a briefing for FE Governors and, on page 7 of this briefing under a title of Careers/Inspiration, is a request for examples of good practice in Careers work to be emailed to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Many organisations are
already doing important work in this area and there has been a high level of success and
positive impact being achieved by those we have spoken to. In order to find out more,
share successes and inspire more people to get involved in delivering this vision we
would like you to send us examples of good practice. These might be examples from
your own organisation or other organisations, web links, case studies, or a couple of
lines in an email that we can follow-up. Please send your responses to
inspirationvision@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

The paragraph references the Inspiration Vision Statement published by the Department in September alongside the disappointing results of the Ofsted Careers survey. I assume that whatever submissions they receive will add to the data they collected from phone surveys in February 2014 and from some longer, more in-depth interviews I know they have also been conducting about school + employer collaboration to help shape the forthcoming revised Careers guidance (edit – not gonna happen as the revised Guidance was released the very day after this post) and the Department’s future policy in this area. So, get emailing your examples of good practice!

Piece on my school in the Guardian

Me: I spoke to the Guardian a few weeks ago about my role and how the school really supports our Careers work

Avid Reader: Oh nice, well done, but one thing..

Me: Yes?

Avid Reader: This fella they interviewed is called George

Me: No it’s me

Avid Reader: Are you sure?

Me: Well, they call me by full name in the first paragraph

Avid Reader: So your name is Russell?

Me: My first name is, yes

Avid Reader: But then it keeps saying “George” does this and “George” does that.

Me: Hmmmmmm

Avid Reader: So how come…?

Me: Believe me, it’s not the first time

Avid Reader: But…it’s only two words to get in the right order

Me: I know, I thought Russell Brand getting popular would solve this

Avid Reader: Ah, but he’s only get one first name!

Me: So have I!

And so on

Anyway, it’s here:

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/apr/01/careers-advisers-schools-help-students-business-contact