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Good news on careers guidance

23 September 2015

It's not often that we're able to report good news when it comes to careers guidance. For a long time it's been one of those areas where there has been much talk of the problem, but little action. That's why last week's announcement by the Careers and Enterprise Company is so welcome. For the last two years, the Association of Colleges has been calling for changes to the way careers advice and education is provided to young people. Our campaign, Careers Guidance: Guaranteed, set out proposals which highlighted the important role local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) should play in delivering careers advice. As the body responsible for looking at the skills needs of their local area, LEPs should be perfectly placed to provide a contextual and impartial perspective to the opportunities available to young people. Our view is that LEPs can facilitate the coming together of schools, colleges and universities to provide a central careers hub in a locality. Last week's announcement links to this idea. This won't be a physical location, but the creation of enterprise co-ordinators and advisers responsible for providing advice and guidance to young people in schools and colleges is a big step in the right direction. The enterprise advisers will be from the world of work. This will include people from businesses and organisations of all sizes and types. These advisers will work directly with schools and colleges to help build careers and employer engagement plans, linked to their own business connections. These volunteers will be supported by full-time co-ordinators who will provide assistance to schools and colleges to develop career programmes, such as CV and skill building and work experience. It's too soon to tell how successful this programme will be and it will of course take time. However, this new initiative goes some way to put in place a range of facilities which could have a real impact on young people when it comes to them deciding on their career path. Many of the top jobs available in 2015, such as those in emerging sectors such as energy renewables, IT and the computer games industry, didn’t even exist a decade ago. Our research conducted in 2014 suggested that 70% of young people turn to parents and 57% to teachers for careers advice. The results also showed that parents and teachers are struggling to keep up-to-date with current and future work trends and may be unwittingly stifling young people’s aspirations and hampering their educational choices through a lack of contemporary information. This new approach will help to address this, moving the responsibility away from parents and teachers, and ensuring careers advice is delivered by current employees in a range of industries. For the last year we've been asking young people to use Twitter and the hashtag #dreamjob to tell us what they want to be when they're older. Now with the help of this new initiative, they will be provided with the support to achieve their dream via the right path, whether that's an apprenticeship, a job or going onto university. Chris Walden is the Director of Public Affairs and Communications at the Association of Colleges.