As vocational training garners more and more attention, so does the role of schools as key providers of career advice. It is essential that young people receive sufficient information about all their options because it has become clear that academic learning is definitely not the only route to professional success. Last month, the UK government amended its guidance on the provision of career advice in schools, calling for “fair and balanced information” on all options for young people. The move has been welcomed by the Edge Foundation although the education charity believes that the recommendations listed in the government document should have been made requirements.
In an article for FE News, Edge CEO Jan Hodges said the organisation was also pleased with the attention given to employers, more specifically the importance of getting them involved in the provision of career advice and guidance. Research carried out by the Education and Employers Taskforce has revealed that young people derive significant benefits and improve their career prospects through initiatives like careers talks, visits to business premises and work experience.
But there are certain aspects of the revised guidance Edge is not happy with. According to its policy and research director David Harbourne, the government has still left schools with too much discretion in the matter of career advice. As Harbourne notes, the “shoulds” in the new guidance far outstrip the “musts” and this could only perpetuate existing practices. Earlier in 2014, an Edge survey revealed that only one-third of students opting for vocational training felt their school stood behind their choice. Furthermore, nearly 25% were told that vocational education was not for them because they were “too clever.” Unless the government enforces the new guidance and turns the recommendations into requirements, too many schools will adhere to old practices, promoting academic pursuits at the expense of vocational qualifications, Hodges said.