The lack of post 16 support for children

Helena's picture
by Helena
 8
With the recession still looming, high street shops closing, university fee’s increasing, the national careers service Connexions all but closing and employment opportunities on the decrease (in most sectors) where do we see the future for our school leavers?

For the young people of 2011 leaving school is probably the most daunting prospect, why, well because where can they apply too for work? I’m not talking about graduates, no, but the youngsters that don’t want to or can’t afford to go to university.

Not all parents understand the employment market or can advise their children of where to go next; employment, apprenticeship, vocational course or university so instead most school leavers can access Connexions, it’s the Government service set up to help and advice children on what to do next. Connexions help with CV’s, work experience, interview techniques, university applications, and funding for young people with differing abilities, or at least they did until the funding was removed from central Government.

Now, speaking to friends that are teachers and contacts at Connexions I know that things are changing. After two rounds of redundancies, specifically in Connexions in the North West, my sources say the Government is looking to close down Connexions altogether and if schools want careers advice then they need to allocate budget for it! So where will our young people be then....advise-less, career-less and probably future-less.

The young people I mention are not the ones that have supportive families or knowledgeable parents instead, a lot of the work Connexions does is with vocational courses to help young people that don’t have the support or guidance. These young people don’t necessarily have obvious qualifications but instead can bring a raft of other skills to the work force that we need, that companies want but that need assistance matching them together.

Whilst the Government claims to want to help these young people removing one of the key service that does, whilst also adding the people who are careers experts to the unemployment line is not the way, surely? It’s a real shame that, to date, the Government haven’t made any provisions for the future of the country. Instead cutting costs now and devolving the service that seeks to help them will surely only make the situation worse, not better, and offer no direction for these young people for the future.
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Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 09/08/2011 - 08:11

A report published today by Tony Watts of Canterbury Christ Church University discusses careers advice. Under the Education Bill there is a new duty for schools to secure independent careers advice but schools can choose their own provider, and what was once free now has to be paid for. Watts warns that this changes the relationship from a partnership model to a “contractor-supplier relationship”.

Schools must ensure access to an independent external careers source but this can be as little as access to a web-site or telephone helpline. Careers education, already weak in the curriculum of many schools, is being downgraded to a range of information and activities. And school-based careers guidance tends to be driven by educational not career choices, to lack impartiality (especially when schools have their own sixth-forms) slanted towards an academic route and weakened by teachers’ lack of knowledge of other pathways, such as apprenticeships.

This is happening against a background of massive cuts to the Connexions service and a lack of information about the structure of the National Careers Service. It is not even known whether this will be a strategic body or just a loose collection of competing information providers. If the structure of this body and its finance is not announced urgently, then the professional base of trained careers officers will be destroyed.

http://www.publish.canterbury.ac.uk/education/career-and-personal-develo...

The above will make it difficult to provide a “dedicated, professional and flexible careers advisory service in every school and college” highlighted in Alan Milburn’s report “Unleashing Aspiration” and which is endorsed by John Hayes, the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning. Mr Hayes is an enthusiastic spokesman for careers education and guidance but his work is being undermined by lack of support from his own government. Steve Higginbotham, president of the Institute of Career Guidance, warned in June that face-to-face interviews for young people would be replaced by an on-line service, and nearly a quarter of careers advisers had been made redundant. The new “all-age service” is due to start next month, but Higginbotham’s survey found that few areas had a plan in place.

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6090249

And all this is happening when young people need good, impartial careers advice more than ever.

Helena's picture
Tue, 09/08/2011 - 08:45

After what we saw in London last night I would say this topic is more pertinent than ever....youths with nothing to do and no direction.

Sarah's picture
Tue, 09/08/2011 - 10:19

Too true! At times of economic struggle surely we should be encouraging young people to become viable contributors to the economy rather than setting them up to depend on a strained benefits system.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 09/08/2011 - 14:31

A report published today by Tony Watts of Canterbury Christ Church University discusses careers advice. Under the Education Bill there is a new duty for schools to secure independent careers advice but schools can choose their own provider, and what was once free now has to be paid for. Watts warns that this changes the relationship from a partnership model to a “contractor-supplier relationship”.

Schools must ensure access to an independent external careers source but this can be as little as access to a web-site or telephone helpline. Careers education, already weak in the curriculum of many schools, is being downgraded to a range of information and activities. And school-based careers guidance tends to be driven by educational not career choices, to lack impartiality (especially when schools have their own sixth-forms) slanted towards an academic route and weakened by teachers’ lack of knowledge of other pathways, such as apprenticeships.

This is happening against a background of massive cuts to the Connexions service and a lack of information about the structure of the National Careers Service. It is not even known whether this will be a strategic body or just a loose collection of competing information providers. If the structure of this body and its finance is not announced urgently, then the professional base of trained careers officers will be destroyed.

http://www.publish.canterbury.ac.uk/education/career-and-personal-develo...

The above will make it difficult to provide a “dedicated, professional and flexible careers advisory service in every school and college” highlighted in Alan Milburn’s report “Unleashing Aspiration” and which is endorsed by John Hayes, the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning. Mr Hayes is an enthusiastic spokesman for careers education and guidance but his work is being undermined by lack of support from his own government. Steve Higginbotham, president of the Institute of Career Guidance, warned in June that face-to-face interviews for young people would be replaced by an on-line service, and nearly a quarter of careers advisers had been made redundant. The new “all-age service” is due to start next month, but Higginbotham’s survey found that few areas had a plan in place.

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6090249

And all this is happening when young people need good, impartial careers advice more than ever.

Helena's picture
Wed, 10/08/2011 - 10:23

As usual the needs of people from a physical face to face support capacity are being replaced with a computer programme. Computer's are great but they don't help when you just need support. When will the Government learn you can't forget young people - they are not 'disaffected' youth they are simply unsupported and lack guidance.

botzarelli's picture
Wed, 10/08/2011 - 11:30

"After what we saw in London last night I would say this topic is more pertinent than ever….youths with nothing to do and no direction."

Or alternatively, that stuff like Connexions makes very little difference as the people involved in rioting and looting over the past few days will overwhelmingly have received the majority of their education and support from public services during the years in which the government spent heavily on these things. Yet still opportunities are apparently limited (even though most of the rioters are in London, a city whose economy was so strong as to attract people from all over the country and the world). Yet still they had "nothing to do". Yet still they had no hope.

The opportunistic response to the disorder is to say "oh it's the cuts" or "bring back EMA" but it is worth considering the possibility that actually the previous approach didn't work and spending more money to do more of it is not a great idea.

Careers advice and guidance has become more complex because part of the previous approach to education was to generate a proliferation of courses and qualifications which "needed" specialist guidance to navigate. At the same time, by pushing more and more children into staying in education longer whether it fitted them or not, the qualifications needed to do entry level jobs have inflated. 25 years ago having a 3-4 CSEs at Grade 2 or 3 was enough to gain entry to many training and employment opportunities. Now, similar entry level jobs will be being competed for by graduates. The jobs haven't changed substantially (if anything technology has made clerical and administrative jobs much easier). They've just had their entrance requirements inflated out of the reach of disaffected youths. In the past, if you dropped out of school without qualifications it wouldn't take you long, once you decided to go back, to get an adequate set of qualifications to get on. What 21 year old NEET with no work history or qualifications would be interested in listening to Connexions telling them that they could get the degree they needed to get the job as a bank cashier after a mere 6 years study?

Helena's picture
Wed, 10/08/2011 - 16:06

My post is by no means siding with any Government or not it's simply designed to look at what support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds receive and the services that put them in place. The labour market is scewed as older people are having to work longer and keeping jobs normally left for our young people. I agree about extended education and that making the qualification band for jobs harder to achieve but I wouldn't ever agree that Connexions has encouraged more young people to go to University quite the opposite as they are funding / vocational qualification focused.

Alan's picture
Fri, 12/08/2011 - 12:09

DfE data on participation in education, training and employment by 16-18s in England (http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000938/index.shtml) draws no distinction between learning disabled and non-disabled students in private colleges (e.g., CICs), specifically, how many disabled students progress from training into employment and how many become disenfranchised (the term NEET is derogatory). I expect payment on performance will incentivise colleges to provide, for example, professional dyslexia assessments so that reasonable adjustments can be made in-line with the Equality Act 2010.

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