How careers advice has become ‘a ghost service’: Pupils are being forced to phone premium rate phone lines for guidance rather than have face-to-face meeting
School careers guidance has become a ‘ghost service’ with some young people having to pay up premium call rates to contact advisers by phone, a leading charity warned yesterday.
Local authorities used to have a legal duty to provide a careers service but this was axed by the Coalition.
Instead, a National Careers Service helpline was set up – but although it is free to call from landlines, it can cost 40p a minute from a mobile.
This makes it ‘virtually unaffordable’ for many young people who do not have access to a fixed line, according to Barnardo’s.
The children’s charity said it was ‘wholly inadequate’ to replace face-to-face guidance with online or telephone services, and that it would jeopardise youngsters’ chances of long-term work..
In-depth interviews with 29 young people across the country revealed none were aware of the National Careers Service website or the similar Government-funded Plotr site.
Jonathan Rallings, of Barnardo’s, said ‘ghost services’ were effectively being offered in place of ‘meaningful advice’.
‘Changes to our careers guidance system risk squandering young futures by failing to guarantee sufficient vital face-to-face support for people who need it,’ he said.
‘It’s crucial that the Government doesn’t miss the opportunity to step in at this pivotal age, especially when access to trusted, personally tailored careers advice at an early stage can help to make the difference between young people sinking or swimming in the world of work.’
According to the report, Helping the Inbetweeners, young people who were least likely to receive careers guidance were those who were not aiming to go into higher education or advanced apprenticeships but who were also not considered vulnerable to being out of work, education or training.
Schools and colleges were given the duty of providing 13 to 16-year-olds with impartial careers advice from last September. But pupils have complained of being offered just one personal session or only group meetings.
Barnado’s called on the Government to provide detailed guidance for schools on how to use resources to guarantee young people face-to-face help if they request it and improve the promotion of online services.
It demanded the phone line be free from mobiles and accessible from Skype.
John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said government careers advice left family and friends to ‘pick up the pieces’ and accused the Government of adopting ‘too laissez-faire an approach’ to careers guidance.
He said it relied too heavily on teachers, leaving formal advice ‘on life-support’ and assuming family and friends would ‘pick up the pieces’. The result was teenagers leaving education with little knowledge of the job market, he warned, adding children as young as 12 should receive advice.
He also recommended that the National Careers Service, which currently offers meetings with advisers only to adults, should be given access to schools.
The Department for Education said Ofsted would be prioritising inspections of careers guidance from next month. This would be followed by a report listing improvements needed for careers guidance in schools.
A spokesman said: ‘For the very first time this Government has introduced a legal obligation on schools to deliver independent and impartial careers advice for all pupils up to 18. This replaces the previous system which was patchy, costly and often of poor quality.
‘The National Careers Service provides a high quality helpline and webchat service, which has been used over 67,000 times in its first year alone, and a website which has attracted seven million visits.
‘The website offers a free call back service and there is also a smartphone app coming soon.’
What has happened to the Careers Service is partly the result of creating the Connexions Service which turned professional Careers Advisers into “egg, cook and bottle washers” and the failures of the professional body that represented careers advisers in doing nothing about promoting the service and wielding any political clout. The ICG was seen by many as being a bit like the “Masons”………only a select few were allowed into the inner sanctum. I fear that the profession of professionally qualified Careers Adviser will be defunct within 5 years.
Source: Mail on Line 28 August 2013