Careers leaders are at the heart of delivering the Careers Strategy

Apr 1, 2018 | Apprentices & school leaver, Sector & policy

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the ISE considers the Careers Strategy and why the appointment of careers leaders is pivotal to its success.

It has been a while coming, the government’s careers strategy. But I for one am not disappointed in its contents.

Routes into work are changing, and encouraging as many students as possible to simply aim for university, fails or stalls too many people.

The creation of T-levels, increasing number of apprenticeships, vocational degrees as well as the more academic routes, all offer excellent routes into meaningful work. But all too often students do not get the right information or guidance that helps them make the right choices that suit them.

We know what works.

The eight Gatsby benchmarks provide a template for schools and colleges to follow and not nearly enough do so at the moment. 

To deliver on the eight, which some do achieve so it can be done, will require leadership. Which is why I think the single most important point in the whole 36-page strategy document is that by September 2018 every school and college will have a named careers leader in post.

Schools and employers share a common gripe – dealing with volume. 

Schools have a point when they stress how difficult it is to deal with the number of employers and third parties who approach them and how hard it is to differentiate between them. 

Employers, also legitimately, talk of the volume of schools they are trying to deal with and how challenging it can be to get airtime for all their routes into work, both graduate and non-graduate. They also struggle to pick between all the third parties who approach them.

The graduate labour market is by no means perfect, but fundamentally it is mature with established structures – employers and universities broadly know how to engage with each other. 

We need to get to the same state with schools, colleges and employers. 

Delivering on all the Gatsby benchmarks requires leadership from a school or college: a ‘Careers Leader who has the energy and commitment, and backing to deliver the programme across all [Gatsby] benchmarks’. 

And the careers leader will have to deliver on a number of fronts. 

If every student is to receive seven meaningful interactions with different employers that is going to require co-ordination. Linking curriculum learning to careers, providing access to technical learning providers, fundamentally addressing the needs of all students, will require careers leadership. 

The eight Gatsby benchmarks will not be met if institutions approach their careers strategy half hearted. A meaningful careers strategy will not be implemented if it is demoted too far down the hierarchy or not given the focus it requires by leadership.

It’s in all our interests to make this work. 

Good career outcomes mean that our young people will find their route into careers, into work, that they enjoy, which will make them more fulfilled, which will in turn make them more productive, which will improve the UK economy.

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