Time to focus relentlessly on careers, skills, and future prospects – FE News

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The start of the New Year brings new opportunities and challenges. For individuals and our national economy, it is a crucial time to focus on careers, skills, and future prospects.
The labour market is changing rapidly. Employers are unable to fill a quarter of job vacancies due to skills shortages, which are worse in some sectors than others. Skills make an important contribution to productivity, but our skills system lags behind international competitors in key areas – particularly in technical skills and good quality careers support for young people and adults. Ongoing industrial disputes highlight the discontent and disconnect between how government and citizens view modern careers, skills and prospects.
Over the last decade, government and policy areas have become increasingly fragmented. There are “at least 49 national employment and skills-related schemes or services managed by nine Whitehall departments and agencies” (LGA, 2022).
Work moved from farms to cities and people followed (many of them youth with no family supports) with major problems in housing, poverty and safety in urban centres. England’s William Booth, The Salvation Army founder, developed several labour registries (i.e., places for the unemployed to find job postings). In the US, Frank Parsons recognised that the process of entering the work world was beginning to shift such that far more people would be able to choose the type of work they did and make this choice within an increasingly wide array of options. Parsons assessed that individuals needed help in “choosing a vocation.” In the UK, Ogilvie Gordon, for example, developed plans for the “Educational Information and Employment Bureaux” to be open to help young people transition from school to work.
The Prime Minister and Conservative Party want us all “to help grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.” Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party want “to give Britain its future back”. A fundamental question, is where are the trustworthy places for individuals to go for career information, advice and guidance?
Some key facts:
Citizens across England have been let down by central government on the level of careers, skills and future prospects support available to them. This is recently evidenced by written and oral evidence to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance highlighting fundamental differences in service delivery and levels of school finance available for impartial career guidance. The government’s response to the consultation on access to schools for education and training providers is a step in the right direction. But signposting and reliable signals to opportunities and options are weak.
The Prime Minister and David Blunkett’s vision for learning and skills for economic recovery, social cohesion and a more equal Britain have surprisingly something in common – a reference to impartial career guidance from highly trained and specialist advisers is missing – either intentionally or unintentionally. This is at odds with other UK, European and international effective career support and skills systems highlighted by the OECD, ILO, ETF and UNESCO.
We can and must do more.  The march for progress will continue. This requires a great deal more effort to achieve support for individuals, families, and businesses to thrive and prosper over the next decade.

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The start of the New Year brings new opportunities and challenges. For individuals and our national economy, it is a crucial time to focus on careers, skills, and future prospects.
The labour market is changing rapidly. Employers are unable to fill a quarter of job vacancies due to skills shortages, which are worse in some sectors than others. Skills make an important contribution to productivity, but our skills system lags behind international competitors in key areas – particularly in technical skills and good quality careers support for young people and adults. Ongoing industrial disputes highlight the discontent and disconnect between how government and citizens view modern careers, skills and prospects.
Over the last decade, government and policy areas have become increasingly fragmented. There are “at least 49 national employment and skills-related schemes or services managed by nine Whitehall departments and agencies” (LGA, 2022).
Work moved from farms to cities and people followed (many of them youth with no family supports) with major problems in housing, poverty and safety in urban centres. England’s William Booth, The Salvation Army founder, developed several labour registries (i.e., places for the unemployed to find job postings). In the US, Frank Parsons recognised that the process of entering the work world was beginning to shift such that far more people would be able to choose the type of work they did and make this choice within an increasingly wide array of options. Parsons assessed that individuals needed help in “choosing a vocation.” In the UK, Ogilvie Gordon, for example, developed plans for the “Educational Information and Employment Bureaux” to be open to help young people transition from school to work.
The Prime Minister and Conservative Party want us all “to help grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.” Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party want “to give Britain its future back”. A fundamental question, is where are the trustworthy places for individuals to go for career information, advice and guidance?
Some key facts:
Citizens across England have been let down by central government on the level of careers, skills and future prospects support available to them. This is recently evidenced by written and oral evidence to the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance highlighting fundamental differences in service delivery and levels of school finance available for impartial career guidance. The government’s response to the consultation on access to schools for education and training providers is a step in the right direction. But signposting and reliable signals to opportunities and options are weak.
The Prime Minister and David Blunkett’s vision for learning and skills for economic recovery, social cohesion and a more equal Britain have surprisingly something in common – a reference to impartial career guidance from highly trained and specialist advisers is missing – either intentionally or unintentionally. This is at odds with other UK, European and international effective career support and skills systems highlighted by the OECD, ILO, ETF and UNESCO.
We can and must do more.  The march for progress will continue. This requires a great deal more effort to achieve support for individuals, families, and businesses to thrive and prosper over the next decade.

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