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State schools must drop ‘outdated snobbery’ against apprenticeships, says Nicky Morgan

s216_Nicky_MorganA new law ensuring that state schools promote apprenticeships as much as university education will be introduced this year in a bid to end the “outdated snobbery” against technical education. Visit:

Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education will legislate to ensure that technical colleges and companies providing apprenticeships get into schools to give careers advice to pupils.

The new law is designed to end the perception that non-academic routes are “second best”, amid concern within government that some schools are failing to present technical and professional options on an equal footing to university. 

Ministers believe some schools are unwilling to recommend apprenticeships or other technical and professional routes to any but the lowest-achieving pupils – effectively creating a two-tier system of careers advice.

Here’s my initial response:

Nicky Morgan’s announcement is very timely in view of tomorrow’s House of Commons Sub-Committee Inquiry into Careers Advice, Information and Guidance. Visit:
nick-boles.ashx_I welcome the government’s announcement to publish a new careers strategy. For more than 3 years, the government has received a series of evidence-based reports indicating the careers system in England is fragmented and incoherent. A key element missing in all recent announcements from the DfE and BIS is the role of career development professionals trained and qualified to provide independent and impartial careers guidance. First we heard about more employers going into schools , then Jobcentre Advisers, then mentors and now apprenticeship providers. 
Schools are increasingly acknowledging their responsibility to guide students in their career development. However, the guidance that is provided to schools in England focuses for the most part on helping students towards their academic achievement, and not on helping them develop competencies to manage their future career. Whilst some schools, colleges and local authorities are doing reasonably well, many institutions need to rise to the challenge of meeting their statutory and non-statutory duties to provide impartial and independent careers guidance. In countries such as Austria, Finland, Germany and Switzerland, these issues are addressed by ensuring that careers information, advice and guidance (CIAG) feature prominently in their education and training systems (ELGPN, 2012) from an early age.[1] For example, an OCED report (2009)[2] summed up the strengths of the Swiss VET system as follows:
Its [the Swiss VET system] many strengths include strong employer engagement within a well functioning partnership of Confederation, cantons and professional organisations. School and work-based learning are integrated; the system is well resourced, flexible and comprehensive, including a strong tertiary VET sector. VET teachers and trainers, examiners and directors are well prepared, quality control is ensured, career guidance is systematic and professional. Evidence is well developed and routinely used to support policy arguments.”


[1] Vuorinen, R., & Watts, A. (Eds.). (2012). Lifelong Guidance Policy Development: a European Resource Kit. Jyväskylä; Brüssel: University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Institute for Educational Research; European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network. ELGPN Tools;, No. 1. Available at:
[2] OECD (2009) OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. A Learning for Jobs Review of Switzerland. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
s216_Sam_Gyimah3The new Careers and Enterprise Company is employer-led and independent of government. It hopes to position itself at the heart of the careers and enterprise ecosystem – as a ‘market maker’ with funding provided from government. The National Careers Service has a formal ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the new company. (It had a 5% allocated budget from the Skills Funding Agency for ‘brokerage services’ to schools and colleges). In December 2015, Nick Boles, the Minister for Skills formally announced:
We have agreed that the National Careers Service should be re-focussed on the new priority groups, young people aged 19-23 not in touch with schools/colleges, lower skilled adults aged 24 plus and adults (25 plus) with learning difficulties and disabilities. The service should build on the digital first approach already in train, using a triage approach to help citizens make informed choices about learning and work and determine their career pathway and suitability for programmes including apprenticeships and traineeships as well as other learning and skills programmes intended to boost UK productivity” (December 2015).[2]
This shift in policy represents a potential further reduction in trained and qualified careers professionals supporting local schools and colleges.


[1] Secretary of State for Education evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee available to download at:
[2] Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (2015) Funding Letter to the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) priorities and funding for 2016-2017, 15th December 2015
The Careers & Enterprise Company is part of the solution in transforming the provision of careers, enterprise and employer engagement experiences for young people. The latest DfE Press Release states the Company will “launch a series of campaigns to stimulate debate, increase collaboration and raise aspirations.’ In reality, England does not need a series of costly campaigns.The AoC Campaign for careers guidance provides a strong foundation to better harness the partnership working between employers, training providers, education leaders, career development professionals, job centres, local authorities and LEPs to shape government policy on careers education, information, advice and guidance.
The Government should provide schools and colleges with free and/or subsidised access to independent and impartial career development professionals’ expertise. This would help in the transition phase to support schools and colleges to meet their statutory duties. Such support would achieve immediate improvements in careers education and guidance, particularly for young people. It would help schools and colleges make better use of labour market intelligence/ information (LMI), teacher support, improved education and employer links and work with parents/carers. It would also help them to put in place an effective careers strategy and implementation plan and provide better coherence across local areas.
Hopefully, the new proposed legislation will factor in the role of trained and qualified career development professionals?

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