Does the careers service in the UK work?

(54 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-May-13 11:12:33

The National Careers Council are reporting to the Government on the current state of the careers service in the UK and they've asked for our help.

It's all very timely because it coincides with Mumsnet's Workfest, sponsored by Barclays on June 15th which is all about helping mums get back into work or start their own business (still a few places left if you're interested wink)

If you could take a couple of minutes to answer the following questions we'd be ever so grateful.

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?

We'll let you know what the Gov say on June 5th.

Thanks
MNHQ

Slambang Fri 31-May-13 22:46:33

There are always wonderful stories slating old school careers advisers and their crazy advice but I think there's also a general misapprehension of what careers advisers are actually able to do. Careers advisers cannot tell people what job they should do in a kind of clairvoyanty way. All they can do is help people make their own choices (the guidance bit) based on solid information (the info bit). I fairly frequently see customers who want to walk out of my office after a 45 minute session with a one word answer of THE job that fits all their criteria (Real example: I refuse to use a computer and i'm interested in world war two tanks. I need to earn at least 30K to pay my mortgage. I wont travel more than 5 miles from my village. Tell me what job to do. Well if you can't tell me you must be rubbish.)

While a good adviser would never ever crush anybody's aspirations, an important skill has to be helping people make achievable realisitic choices. (Hence the emphasis on labour market information.) Whatever system does eventually emerge from the wreckage of the Connexions service, it has to be presented as a guidance service not a personality job match guessing game.

violetwellies Fri 31-May-13 23:25:49

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

In the olden days - (I was an ancient first time Mum) I saw the deputy head who was also the careers officer he was shite not very good, totally unintersested as I didnt want to stay on to 6th form.
Fast forward 20 years and as a disabled childrens social worker I loved our Connexions bloke, committed, knowledgeable and user friendly. Then they stopped the funding, WTF, the only thing that really seemed to work in some of these kids lives and the Govt stopped it, <deep sigh>

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?
My Ds is too young for such excitement, I just hope there are some decent folk with access to info, willing to help teenagers, when he needs it.

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?
None whatsoever, that will only lead to dissappointment, his father thinks paying for public school totally reasonable but will not fund university, so I hope he has some good ideas of his own by then.

BackforGood Fri 31-May-13 23:43:03

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it? No, I didn't know there was one. I knew there was someone that ds could speak to in school, but that parents weren't invited, and he came home saying it was a waste of time - don't know if they were part of the NCS

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened? Not a lot. I have a ds in Yr12 and a dd in Yr9. ds's has been very poor. As he doesn't kow what he wants to do, they seem stuck, and not able to offer suggestions. dd has had talks intended to 'inspire them' (eg a fighter pilot came in and talked about her career).

~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children? I just want them to find something they will really enjoy. I don't have particular aspirations for them

LadyStark Fri 31-May-13 23:49:20

Vested interest in many ways, I'm a corporate recruiter. NCS and jobcentre both useless, doesn't prepare people - especially young people - for the reality of the entry level market. It's competitive, hard to win a place etc but IS doable without a degree/the best grades. I find it utterly dispiriting that our young people are advised that FE and HE are the way forward, we offer many opportunities that non-grads could apply for and get but they seem to have little interest in promoting them.

flow4 Sat 01-Jun-13 07:58:26

I've just remembered: DS1 school held a kind of 'market place' event when he was in y10 (so 3 years ago) and different employers had info stalls. But the only employers who attended were social care providers and the armed forces. shock sad They're both perfectly good careers of course, but my DS wasn't suited to or interested in either, and I thought it was sad that the school had such limited aspirations for its pupils.

flow4 Sat 01-Jun-13 08:09:27

Also - regarding aspirations- and this bugs me - I'd like my kids to be able to go to university, but I really don't want them to have £40-50k debt at the start of their working lives. Debt traps people, pushes them to do jobs that do not suit them, and makes them miserable, and I really don't want that for my children... So that's a problem. confused sad

Tubemole1 Sat 01-Jun-13 09:14:16

I only became aware of the National Careers service recently when I considered changing jobs and needed advice on how to construct a CV. The advice was good, but not brilliant. My mum, a retired recruiter for a local council, said my CV needed much more tweaking before it grabbed her attention. The templates were not eye-catching enough.

NCS does give some good advice on interview technique and personal presentation, but overall, I looked at tips from recruitment websites like Monster and Reed for a fuller picture of the current needs of employers.

When I was at school 20 years ago we were all forced to see the careers advice lady and despite my then desire to work in the caring services, she tried to persuade me, and all my classmates, to work in a bank. Not helpful.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Sat 01-Jun-13 09:56:34

DD's 12 so not old enough yet, but I had a couple of sessions with the NCS when I was job hunting last year.

The adviser was pleasant and encouraging, but the CV templates she gave me were riddled with typos and inconsistent punctuation, capitalisation and spacing. In my previous job I'd have binned them very quickly.

The Scottish system is working for adults. I refer loads to them and they are very positive about the service they receive.
Can't really comment on under 18s despite having a 17 and 16 year old. Both going to Uni so I suppose it's job done as far as my two are concerned.

ConnexionsCareersAdviser Sat 01-Jun-13 10:40:37

NC, obviously.

I work as a careers adviser in one of the few remaining Connexions Services. We are also a sub contractor for the NCS.

In our area NCS are for 19+ and I think slowly word is getting round although there is very little publicity and it is a small service delivered in a disjointed fashion from several different organisations.

Connexions deliver to 13-19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs). In our local authority we have been bought in by all schools bar one (an academy) - the reason for this is that we are cheap, our LA subsidises us. When this stops, the schools won't bother and they'll attempt to deliver the service themselves with unqualified staff.

The Government need to understand that putting the responsibility to provide IAG into the hands of schools will be a disaster.

I did know that there was some kind of careers service, but I've never used it. At school there were careers advisers, but they pretty much ignored those of us who would be going to university anyway.

My kids have never had any kind of careers advice, but they're 3 and 13 so I'd hope they'll get some when it's more relevant to them.

I have no career aspirations for my children. They can have their own aspirations. DS1 wants to go to university to do something STEMy be use he's good at maths and science. DS2 is 3, so he probably wants to be an octonaut.

TheFarSide Sat 01-Jun-13 20:45:01

Another careers adviser here. Nice to see some colleagues on here.

The government has stopped funding local authorities to provide a universal careers service for young people: the service is now focused on NEET reduction, and schools must now pay for a service they previously received for free. Some choose not to.

The National Careers Service for adults is target driven: contractors are paid a fee per interview: £50 in our area, from which the contractor must cover salaries and overheads. Contractors therefore engage in fee-maximising strategies, such as running group sessions rather than one-to-one interviews with a personalised action plan and follow up.

There used to be a requirement for careers advisers to hold a postgraduate diploma in careers guidance. Now, people with NVQ 3 in guidance can call themselves advisers: they are cheaper to hire though.

So, as with all public services, there is huge pressure to cut costs by paying lower salaries and rewarding quantity rather than quality of advice.

To those who have tales of poor careers advice in the past, I'm guessing that the advice came from a teacher unqualified in careers. Professionally qualified careers advisers don't tend to ignore their clients' wishes and persuade them to do something else.

itsnothingoriginal Sat 01-Jun-13 21:25:26

Also (was) a Careers Adviser so a vested interest but delighted to see this is finally being discussed!

I was made redundant a year ago and there are no jobs for me to apply for so I've been doing a huge amount of voluntary work. Basically helping young people who aren't getting any careers advice at school with CVs and job search etc.

The situation is terrible - the worst it's been in my 10 yrs in the job. Young people are being completely failed when they need IMPARTIAL careers advice more than ever - not just a few mins help from a class teacher..

I have friends who although lucky to keep their jobs now spend 90% of their time in an office rather than schools chasing NEET targets!!

Schools can't and won't pay for a decent careers service so young people will suffer as a result, potentially for the long term. Parents do need to know about the reality of the situation and not that careers advisers simply can't be bothered to help their child.

samonly Sun 02-Jun-13 08:48:57

It's been terrible - son at a grammar school, told he has to leave if he gets <4Ds, not that likely but possible given Jan modules (U and D, Bio & Chem). He's dyslexic but decent crop of GCSEs (8As/1A*/1C/1B). He definitely struggles with many (written) organisational things but might be better off in an apprenticeship since he is quite practical. Currently finishing ASs totally clueless where to go if the Ds materialise. Husband and I think he has no option but to restart sixth form (somewhere else) but have been searching apprenticeship database and feel a bit in the dark. Careers Service at school just said told him to get a job he 'could manage with his disability' which frankly isn't that bad. He wants to do something 'non-office based' 'with plants', and I'm convinced there must be many career paths he can follow - but don't even know where to start looking. Even if he does ok in AS levels and ends up with mediocre A levels, I'm not sure uni is the best route for him - he is just not a paper and pencil person. The frustration is that he does know what he likes and has many strengths. His self-esteem is fairly low, since he is clearly a fish out of water in his school, but in terms of the whole population can't be that unusual - careers advice at school was all based on which unis he can realistically target with fairly low A level grades, as well as low paid opportunities locally to the school (but not us, which again seems short sighted). If you know how to get in contact with 1-1 service I would be grateful for links, as it is entirely possible he will be NEET after August 15th through little fault of his own.

flow4 Sun 02-Jun-13 09:48:11

samonly, this is for you rather than the OP... Have you considered BTECs? I would definitely recommend them: my son is now doing one, and is engaged and interested and doing well for the first time in 3-4 years.

They are vocational level 3 qualifications - like A levels for people who (as you describe your son) are 'just not paper and pencil people'. There are BTECs in things like care, tourism, media, uniformed services, horticulture, IT, etc....

My DS did much worse than yours in his GCSEs, because although he's bright, he just was not interested in classroom learning, and had pretty much totally disengaged by the time he reached y11. The absence of careers advice and his poor confidence meant he ended up on a level 1 course last year that was intended basically to pick up those who would otherwise be NEET. He became even more disengaged and unconfident, and this time last year, predicted a life on the dole for himself sad I bribed and threatened him into going back to college, and (thank goodness) he got a place on a BTEC he was interested in... Now he's re-engaged and talking about uni... smile

And sam, frankly, with those GCSE results, your son can do anything he wants to do. Literally. No doors are closed to him yet. Don't let his school's lack of vision, ambition and aspiration limit his!

flow4 Sun 02-Jun-13 09:50:43

samonly, this is for you rather than the OP... Have you considered BTECs? I would definitely recommend them: my son is now doing one, and is engaged and interested and doing well for the first time in 3-4 years.

They are vocational level 3 qualifications - like A levels for people who (as you describe your son) are 'just not paper and pencil people'. There are BTECs in things like care, tourism, media, uniformed services, horticulture, IT, etc....

My DS did much worse than yours in his GCSEs, because although he's bright, he just was not interested in classroom learning, and had pretty much totally disengaged by the time he reached y11. The absence of careers advice and his poor confidence meant he ended up on a level 1 course last year that was intended basically to pick up those who would otherwise be NEET. He became even more disengaged and unconfident, and this time last year, predicted a life on the dole for himself sad I bribed and threatened him into going back to college, and (thank goodness) he got a place on a BTEC he was interested in... Now he's re-engaged and talking about uni... smile

And sam, frankly, with those GCSE results, your son can do anything he wants to do. Literally. No doors are closed to him yet. Don't let his school's lack of vision, ambition and aspiration limit his!

headlesslambrini Sun 02-Jun-13 10:29:11

sam have you considered a horticultural / agricultural college? Don't know where about you are but our local(ish) one is Myerscough College. They offer both FE and HE courses - both as a residential basis. Sounds like your DS might be interested in this. smile

insanityscratching Sun 02-Jun-13 11:18:49

~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?
I had no idea there was a careers service still in existence despite having had four children leave school in the last 10 years. I thought it had been replaced by Connexions which in our area is quite possibly the biggest waste of resources known to man.

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?
They see a Connexions advisor if they are lucky (or not depending on your viewpoint) I think this happened just before GCSE's. Unfortunately ds has SEN so we seem to be lumbered with Connexions for much longer than we might have been. Our worker turns up for Annual Reviews, does nothing and leaves only to return the next year which seems to be standard practise for them. In four years they have never spoken to ds or given any help or support whatsoever but seemed offended when I didn't mention them as being part of ds's support team confused

insanityscratching Sun 02-Jun-13 11:25:57

Interested to read that Connexions work with NEETs I suppose that as mine went on to FE they wouldn't have had reason to give any input then although would be interested to know what input they are supposed to give to statemented children as we've not had any yet and ds will leave his independent specialist school next year. From what I can see his school seem to be doing all the legwork for his next placement.

samonly Sun 02-Jun-13 11:53:01

-First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

I don't think I did - and we need it - son might not get 4Ds in AS level and might have to leave school as a result

~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

Only now (Yr12), school quite keen on him having insurance thing to do. He wants to do something outdoorsy like gardening but I'm not sure if that's because he feels stupid. Teacher at school careers person, said he needs to get something suitable for dyslexia but talks about this as if it is crippling disability (he has 8As gcses (incl eng, maths, foreign lang)/1A*(science)/1b/1c - I figure he is quite capable really). She talked to him about engineering apprenticeships in the food industry which seems quite far away from gardening. He was disheartened and confused. Careers info away from uni very difficult to find.

~ career aspirations: anything that he enjoys enough to stick at. Preferably not retail/luxury service that relies on other people having enough money to be customers. Although apparently nail bars are doing really well at the moment. Something he loves enough to make a go of. Would have said uni, plant science or similar would be ideal, but gardener, gardening apprentice would be fine too.

JulesJules Sun 02-Jun-13 16:25:25

First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?

I didn't know. Never heard of it.

Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?

They are a bit young, the oldest has just turned 11. Nothing so far! I hope it will be better than the "advice" I got - I'd put geography and singing as favourite subject/ hobby and was recommended missionary work as a career confused

Career aspirations:

I want them to find work which they find interesting and rewarding.

Middlesexmummy Tue 04-Jun-13 17:27:52

Hello
Also declaring a vested interest here as a manager who manages a buy back service to schools and a neet service on behalf of the council . Back in the connections days the gvmt invested 200 million in the service . When power changed and connexions became a dirty word , a newservices emerged the national careers service which was funded by BIS who put it 70 million ( don't quote me) for tge adult partand the Dfe who put in roughly 7 million for the yp s part . The part for yp is only a phone line and for adults 1-1 s etc. local authorities received the early intervention grant and have been encouraged to support vulnerable yp through this . The services across the country differ and in some areas but predominantly it's for those who are Neet. The changes in the education bill meant that power went to school to employ careers services from a market provider but again some schools bought and others didn't they were given the power but no extra money . Sorry for the history lesson but I thought it useful to have all of the facts about why certain areas only see certain yp . I blame the government really for the lack of funding in the national careers service for yp. BIS put in millions to ensure adults got a good service but DFES only put enough to find a phone line . Young people should be entitled to free impartial careers guidance and in front of a professional in the same room , not on the phone or Skype !!!! Thankfully there has been lots of challenges to this and we hope to see some improvement for yp soon .
That's me off my soap box for now ( : xx

Dreamingspires Wed 05-Jun-13 20:26:18

I have only recently entered into the world of careers guidance through my work on The Skills Show (a huge vocational careers show at Birmingham NEC), and it’s been a real eye opener in terms of what is (or isn’t) available for students. I agree with Slambang, it is completely scandalous the way Connexions has been disbanded.

My only hope is that the proposed changes to Ofsted to formally assess school’s career guidance might change the way it’s currently being managed (although clearly more funding is needed to do this properly!)

Sam, I’ve been where you son is at a Grammar school and it’s not much fun. I eventually found a route into what I wanted to do, but it could have been much easier, quicker & cheaper if I’d been given good advice in the first instance. I really hope he finds what it is he wants to do. Have you thought of an Agricultural College?

To answer the OP’s questions:
~ First off did you know there was a National Careers Service for young people adults and have you / your DC ever used it?
No.
~ Are your children getting any careers advice in schools and if so what sort of age has that happened?
They’re not old enough yet
~ And what sort of career aspirations do you have for your children?
That they find something that they love doing and they try to be the best they can at it.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Jun-13 11:06:50

Thanks to everyone for all your really thoughtful responses. I went to a lunch with lots of influential folks in business and education and tried my best to make as many of your points as possible. Everyone left the meeting full of resolve to try and do something to make a difference and I'll endeavour to report back on what that turns out to be.

The report they were launching is here tinyurl.com/4b6lokq if anyone is interested.

Thanks again.

Carrie

careersmum2 Wed 12-Jun-13 16:25:08

As a parent and someone who works for a careers company, I see the real lack of connection between school work and the world of work. It's vital for kids to starting connecting what they do at school with their future. I try to point out to my 9 year old why he has to go to school (he thinks he should get paid like we do at work!) but it's never been a more important time for young people to get help. In terms of career aspirations I want to make sure that my child has choices and good support when making decisions that will affect the rest of his life.

For any parents who want help/resources for careers guidance there's a free Parents guide here:
http://www.cascaid.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/CAS-0812-CO080-Parents-Guide1.pdf

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