Education secretary Nicky Morgan unveiled plans for what she called a new “careers and enterprise company” last month.
It is to launch this spring and will operate a £5 million investment fund to “support innovation and stimulate good practice”.
Key targets for the body, which is to be led by Christine Hodgson, chair of Capgemini UK, and which will be independent of government, include:
Advising schools and colleges on their careers provision.
Increasing the level of employer input into careers advice.
Mapping the extent of engagement between schools and employers (and stepping in to stimulate partnerships).
Reporting back to the government on how well young people are being prepared for work.
There have been concerns about the quality of careers advice since the government decision in 2010 to axe £200 million a year in funding for the national network of Connexions centres and pass the duty to deliver careers guidance onto schools.
Since then, a number of high-profile reports – including from Ofsted, the National Careers Council and the Education Select Committee – have attacked the consistency of provision, as many schools struggled to meet the new requirements without any additional funding.
There has also been concern that the government’s National Careers Service only offers telephone lines and a website for young people, with its face-to-face services being reserved for adults.
As such, business and education leaders have welcomed Ms Morgan’s announcement.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We welcome this commitment from Nicky Morgan, which we hope will reverse some of the damage done by her predecessor, in replacing face-to-face careers guidance with online provision.”
However, while Dr Bousted welcomed the funding to support employers to work more closely with schools, she warned that funding is also needed for face-to-face and independent careers support.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, echoed the view, saying that “face-to-face guidance from qualified professionals must form part of the programmes schools are asked to implement”.
He added: “This (funding) needs to be directed to frontline services for schools. (The) proposals will stand or fall on whether they enable schools to put in place expert, professional support.
Meanwhile, John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, added: “Helping schools deliver high-quality careers advice and engage with business is a long-standing priority. The new careers company has the potential to make a big difference.
“Ultimately, this new body will be a success if it uses its power to look across the country to find and tackle local areas where young people are not getting the support they need.”
The new body has also been asked to develop ideas to encourage young people to build their employability, including the creation of an “Enterprise Passport”, which will be a digital record of all extra-curricular and enterprise-related activities undertaken by a student.
Ms Morgan said: “The new careers and enterprise company will encourage greater collaboration between employers and schools, helping schools and colleges access a wealth of experience to inspire young people about the possibilities of the world of work.”