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Does anyone care about the careers service cuts?

(24 Posts)
TheFarSide Mon 15-Nov-10 21:55:01

I have to declare an interest - I'm a careers adviser in a London borough facing redundancy along with a third of my colleagues in the frontline. There are already only 15 of us working desperately hard to provide an impartial and professional guidance service to THOUSANDS of local teens ranging from those with special needs to the gifted & talented.

The scale of proposed public sector cuts is so huge that our service is in danger of completely disappearing. We've already taken a battering during the Labour years - forced to become quasi social workers and infiltrated by connexions advisers without careers guidance qualifications.

My question is: do you care? Or do you think your DCs can get adequate careers advice from parents and teachers?

I'm genuinely interested in your views.

rivi Mon 15-Nov-10 22:34:50

Never llike any of the cuts and often wonder how careers advisers cope when all the time we keep being told there are no jobs. So I now wonder why ask youngsters what career they would like to pursue when it just seems grab any job you can. Hear all the time about young people who just volunteer for jobs that they should be paid for just to ge experience for if a job ever comes up. So many volunteer places but very few paid places seems to be the norm. Am I wrong? How do careers advisors cope now?

TheFarSide Mon 15-Nov-10 23:02:27

No you are right that some youngsters do unpaid work experience - which can be OK as long as they get something out of it and it doesn't last too long, otherwise they are at risk of being exploited.

We try to encourage youngsters to take the long view. Getting that first job can be really difficult, but they WILL get a job eventually and then they can start working towards their goal.

Some unpaid work experience is high quality - our local charity shop has a formal training programme for volunteers covering several different roles in retail (not just sales work but behind-the-scenes office work too). It looks good on a CV and can really boost their confidence.

rivi Tue 16-Nov-10 12:49:47

TheFarSide - you sound very positive about it all which is a far cry from the daily news reports.

I suppose in answer to your question, yes I do care because I care about the way our world is going. I get very cross at how the government/councillors demote the various services that actually need people who know what they are talking about. At the same time it is difficult to support every area and say you cannot cut the service provided. Then again I only get cross again when you hear how much is spent without a thought in government offices (and don't get me started on that one about MPs expenses).

Having volunteered on and off over the years I have only seen jobs that need filling but have volunteers in the position instead. Do you really see people geting the job that they are aiming for or is that what you hope has eventually happened?

sarah293 Tue 16-Nov-10 12:51:53

Message withdrawn

TheFarSide Tue 16-Nov-10 18:17:59

What pees me off is that all our managers have managed to protect their jobs and they are only making frontline staff (careers advisers) redundant.

It's the equivalent of sacking doctors and nurses but keeping all the administrators in the NHS.

I'm not against managers/administrators as such - obviously we need a few - but if our lot get their way, we will be left with one manager per 4 members of staff!!!

JRuBastard Tue 16-Nov-10 18:25:21

The sector is a very muddled one, isn't it?

Big discrepancies in quality/training of staff - Connexions-trained staff, NVQ 4 A&G trained staff, staff with the QCG, staff with no training at all, Connexions Advisors, School Careers Co-ordinators, PHSE teachers doing a bit of careers ed here and there etc etc. It's confusing for people who work in Children's Services, let alone kids and parents.

The service offered to young people (at least in London) is also extremely patchy and often sub-standard.

Something needs to change, that's for sure, but a massive culling of trained, qualified careers advisors isn't the way forward, imo.

This all age guidance service the gov't are proposing all sounds great in theory, but I can guarantee it will mean more jobs (eventually) for a lot of unqualified people in job centres, working under pressure to get people off benefits by any means necessary.


JRuBastard Tue 16-Nov-10 18:26:34

<voice of doom>

Sorry grin

colinpolin Tue 16-Nov-10 19:08:18

I have never been terribly impressed by the schools or Connexions careers services. We are in London and it always tended to focus on 'realistic' options, discouraging more academic choices as aiming too high. My sister is bright but was encouraged to do a vocational course instead of A levels, being told that both were equivalent. Of course, she found it unchallenging and decided later that she wanted to go to university, but her options were restricted because of her earlier choices. She's done well in her degree, but she could have got into a much better institution and it has affected her employment opportunities.

My friends have children who go to private schools and they've had amazing support, very individualised and had a company in to do psychometric tests and liaised with all their teachers to see what kind of job would suit them, plus preparation for university applications including mock interviews. In the future I will probably look for a similar service for my DC.

TheFarSide Tue 16-Nov-10 19:16:48

JRuBastard I suspect you are right about the all age guidance service - although the skills minister says he wants to "reprofessionalise" us so hopefully we can shed all those non-qualified staff who are giving us a bad name. I'm not a Tory supporter, but Labour have absolutely destroyed the careers service over the last ten+ years.

I'm planning on getting out anyway - might go for voluntary redundancy before they get rid of me.

I do feel sorry for the kids though, especially the ones whose parents don't have the knowledge or financial wherewithal to steer them through the system.

piscesmoon Tue 16-Nov-10 19:19:30

I have to say that I have found careers advice and work experience a dead loss. However I don't think we need cuts, we want more of it so that it isn't a dead loss.

southeastastra Tue 16-Nov-10 19:23:52

my son(17) got some wishy washy advice from connextions too, but i'm sure that there are great advisors too. would schools not directly employ you? or a college?

noticed today they're cutting cwdc too.

TheFarSide Tue 16-Nov-10 19:27:06

Hi Colinpolin - any decent careers adviser should be impartial and give enough info for youngsters to make their own informed decision. I tell students some vocational courses are equivalent to A levels but I always point out that top universities tend to prefer A levels.

On the other hand, our education system does tend to be overly snobbish about vocational courses.

By the way, our service offers psychometric testing to local state schools - we used to pay for it but now ask schools to pay and a lot of them won't! We have a lot of expertise re university applications - so this kind of thing can be available outside the private school system.

TheFarSide Tue 16-Nov-10 20:28:01

Yes Piscesmoon - most young people never see a careers adviser - most just get a group session from me and the "lucky" ones get a half hour interview. There are so few of us it's difficult to make an impact, plus we're target focused so it's quantity rather than quality of contacts.

Southeastastra - I guess some of my colleagues will find work directly with schools and colleges, but our professional stance is to oppose this as it can compromise impartiality and also limit our range of experience.

Lots of schools with sixth forms want to hang on to their most able students which is not always the right choice for the student - a local school has just formally COMPLAINED about one of my colleagues for encouraging their year 11s to look into alternative sixth forms before making a decision!

tinkgirl Wed 17-Nov-10 21:13:55

yes I care about the cuts and yes I also have an interest. I work for the Connexions Service and agree with most of what has been posted on here. However I also need to point out that the Connexions Service throughout England is run by private companies many of whom have devolved from the careers services from 10 or so years ago. Hence, in some parts of the country (and I've seen the evidence) it is really poor and in others it's fab and works really well. Connexions is a version of social services but all students which I see are assessed and issues are often raised and dealt with very effectively before they adversely affect the student. I've dealt with issues ranging from teenage pregnancy, bereavement, university requirements, CV's and interviews techniques, refugee issues, financial queries, self-harming and the list goes on and on. Connexions are in schools and known in schools. Where it works well is were Connexions have a strong presence in school and all the students have access to the adviser as and when they need it. I often have students come to me with non-related careers queries.

TheFarSide Wed 17-Nov-10 22:13:40

Tinkgirl - we have some fabulous Connexions advisers in my area who do some really good in depth work with the hard-to-help kids - they are former teachers, social workers, counsellors and so on. The problem with Connexions is that when it was launched it was largely staffed by careers advisers who were forced to take on this role. I have no expertise in drug addiction, housing issues, youth offending and so on yet kids were encouraged to use the service and I was expected to help them with these issues. Equally, Connexions advisers not qualified in careers work were giving careers advice - and in some cases they were getting it badly wrong and giving us all a bad name (eg telling kids they can get into medicine with a BTEC in science). I'm a strong believer in maintaining separate specialisms and not have a general jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none adviser. What's your view on this?

sixteentwentyfour Sun 03-Jun-12 10:57:58

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

pattercakes Sat 09-Jun-12 12:32:09

yes I care about cuts and careers are important. People often dont complain until cuts are enacted.

BertyBee Wed 12-Mar-14 16:42:18

It's interesting that private school parents so value careers guidance that they are willing to pay even more money for it over and above their school fees. Yet the Government clearly believes it has little value - and has very cleverly passed control of the reducing spend to schools who can then take the blame when it is found that they use it for other means and apply a sticking plaster solution by giving an existing teacher an increment to knock it out as best they can. Then what happens is that the school prioritises filling its sixth form and its target to maximise university applications - rather than providing independent advice - see comment above when Connexions tries to do that.

Second, the privatisation of Connexions has dumbed down the capabilities of the advisory staff. Why pay for a graduate adviser when you can fill posts with low paid administrative staff. Why would parents vote for a professional careers service for their children when they encounter increasingly unqualified and inexperienced Connexions staff. They can make the 'knock it out' teachers look like specialists - much to the dismay of the diminishing band of experienced careers advisers. Pay for a graduate careers adviser with 25 years experience - £28,000.

Third, as mentioned above, the money in careers advice is paid at the management level - a cohort who have overseen the dreadful fall in standards of the UK's professional careers service. The only way to earn a professional salary is to leave the very thing that the Service should provide - front line top quality counselling to young people - and join the management ranks. Not their fault - you would do the same.

Fourth - and most troubling of all - also mentioned above. As the cuts get made - you can now see barely qualified Careers Advisers masquerading as Social Workers as Child Services looks to lower costs. Most parents think Careers advisers are in schools using the professional skills they acquired to guide their children. Sooner or later you're going to be reading about failures in child care and protection - and somehow a Connexions employee is going to have the finger pointed at them for failing to a) spot abuse b) notifying police c) attending a "case conference" d) keeping proper records ie records that are little to do with career guidance. Why so? Because the leadership of Connexions has sold the services of its people to anyone who will pay a share towards them across the socials services spectrum. It is a disastrous pathway to be on - unqualified people working on a frontline of child care and protection.

Finally, heaven help you if you have a child with Special Needs. You will need very sharp elbows to get what you want for your child - not least some quality time with a Careers Adviser with significant experience in this area.

TheArticFunky Wed 12-Mar-14 19:40:02

I thought the careers service had already gone our local school uses private consultants.

In my view it would work better if each school employed a careers advisor directly. That way the advisor could get to know the students personally and improve communications with teachers and parents etc.

TheArticFunky Wed 12-Mar-14 19:41:44

Just realised that it's a zombie thread!

BertyBee Wed 12-Mar-14 20:50:46

Just revived it! Agree - but there also needs to be a standard set that ensures every child receives a set amount of time with an independent (from the school) adviser to help make them fully aware of their options, what they will need torment their aspirations and how to go about it.

TheArticFunky Wed 12-Mar-14 21:52:46

I take your point about the careers advisor needing to be independent from the school I hadn't considered it from that angle before.

I'm always surprised by the lack of knowledge from many parents regarding careers. Some of my relatives have chosen the wrong subjects or embarked on a path with limited chance of success. I have attempted to give unsolicited advice but it doesn't always go down well as is the case with unsolicited advice!

itsnothingoriginal Thu 13-Mar-14 22:07:40

A good time to revive this as you say because just recently, Gove proved he really has no truck with impartial one to one careers advice for young people saying that it is 'outdated'.

Result of which is that most young people will go through school without any quality, impartial careers advice and teachers will be the source of all their careers information and advice. This is not only an added pressure on teachers but unfair as providing quality careers guidance is actually a skilled process for which teachers have received no training.

Meanwhile, many excellent and skilled careers advisers have been forced out of their jobs at a time when young people need help with choices more than ever before. It's an appalling situation sad

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