£5m for ‘careers hubs’ isn’t enough to improve careers education and guidance

Janet Downs's picture

Gaps in provision mean many pupils will miss out

Education secretary Damian Hinds has announced a £5m fund for twenty ‘careers hubs’ intended to improve careers advice and deliver ‘encounters’ with training providers and employers, Schools Week reports.  

But the careers hubs won’t be in all areas of the country.  And the £5m is to be shared between the twenty – that’s just £250k each.

Majority of secondary schools won’t be linked to a hub

646 secondary schools, 15 sixth forms and 49 further education (FE) colleges will be linked to a hub.  There are 3,436 state secondary schools  , 62 sixth form colleges and 181 general FE colleges in England.    The careers hub initiative, therefore, won’t include nearly 3000 state secondary and post-secondary institutions.

Hinds also announced a ‘central hub fund’ equivalent to £1k per school or college but it’s not known how this will be spent, Schools Week reports. 

£5m not enough to ensure universal good quality CEG

It’s clear £5m won’t be enough to ensure every pupil in England aged 11 and over receives good quality careers education and guidance (CEG).    Secondary schools are already legally obliged to give training providers access to pupils.  Every secondary school must have a named ‘careers leader’ in place by September and ensure careers programmes are published.   All secondary schools will have to provide at least seven ‘meaningful encounters’ with employers to their pupils by 2021. 

Gatsby framework needs adequate funding

At the same time, every state secondary school is expected to meet the eight ‘Gatsby benchmarks’  - the framework describing what the best careers provision looks like.

But all this costs money.  The careers leader, for example, is ideally expected to be a member of the senior leadership team*.  Creating a new teaching position costs money.  At the same time, it’s expected the school will have a careers administrator* to do the necessary office work.  Again, this needs paying for.

Repairing some of the serious damage done to CEG can’t be described as improvement

Claudia Harris, chief executive of the Careers and Enterprise Company, the organisation described as an ‘overbloated quango’ by the Education Select Committee, said: 

 ‘Careers education has come a long way over the past few years. The Gatsby benchmarks have shown us what ‘excellent’ looks like…’ Harris said.

But CEG has been dire in recent years particularly since Michael Gove’s tenure as education secretary.  Having fallen to a dismal low, the steps towards improvement are like climbing a tiny ladder after falling a long way down a Snakes and Ladders board.

TVEI gains last century have been wiped out in this one

The tragedy is that schools once involved in the Technical and Vocational Education Initiative which began in the 1980s were likely achieving the acclaimed Gatsby benchmarks.  They were supported in their work by teams of professional careers advisers.

But support disappeared and Gove's antipathy destroyed good quality CEG.   Piecemeal careers initiatives and the proposed use of volunteer mentors from business won’t plug the chasm.



*The guide to understanding the role of a careers leader can be downloaded here.  

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