Employer Engagement

Some thoughts on Halfon's strategy for careers

Wednesday 1st February 2017

We need to improve the prestige of careers advice and we will publish a comprehensive careers strategy for all ages later this year

— Robert Halfon (@halfon4harlowMP) January 30, 2017

For once, I totally agree with the statement of a minister... I just wonder how Robert Halfon's interpretation and mine will differ when planning the methodology. My thoughts and comment is in purple

When Robert Halfon stood up to speak at Westminster Academy on Monday 30th January, it was the first

Robert Halfon MP

ministerial pronouncement on CEIAG for quite some time. Considering we've been waiting for a new national strategy for over a year now, I hoped there would be more 'meat' on the bones so to speak. It was only when I went back to go over his speech in order to report back to you, my readers that I realised what was actually there. There are a lot of very positive signposts that CEIAG is about to become 'fashionable' again.

The Main Points of Halfon's speech

  • Careers is embedded in the Governments Industrial Strategy
  • He appears to be genuinely committed to 'lifelong careers' learning as illustrated by the following quote

I see careers advice as the first rung on a ladder of opportunity, a ladder that people will continue to climb throughout their lifetime. However, we know that this ladder does not come to us pre-assembled. It is something that needs to be built, grafted over and shaped to reflect our modern requirements. Government's job is to be there to hold the ladder and help people to climb up.

  • The undertaking to improve the prestige of careers and make it a vital part of every school's offer

I'm hoping that this will include the reinstatement of professional careers practitioners as good guys in the eye of the Government I'm still concerned that the impartiality and currency of the advice available through careers professionals is not valued enough. Employers are excellent sources of advice but do our young people have the skills needed to detect bias and out of date information that is delivered by well meaning but time strapped employers? No, I don't think so either.

  • The promise to examine what works as a 'driver' of development of good practice, Halfon says on this point :-

I do not believe that this is just a question of funding, but how a school chooses to spend its
funding: schools that provide high-quality careers advice, like Westminster Academy, do not do so because they have a greater share of the pot, but because they see providing high-quality careers advice as being vitally important to the future of their pupils.

Hmm, funding is a tricky one. We know the Government didn't give schools any money when handing them the responsibility of CEIAG back in 2012. In all honesty, I don't see the likelihood of money making its way to the school coffers. They will be looking at the drivers, Ofsted, Quality in Careers Awards etc. Carrots and sticks.

  • He then went on to reinforce the Government's view of destination data being an indication of good CEIAG and also the Gatsby benchmarks being a good starting point. This of course was followed up by mention of the CEC and the work they do in supporting employer engagement and mentoring.

Destinations data has proved problematic for some time, it's difficult to collect and of course the outcomes of pupils are not just decided by their academic progress and CEIAG input. The data won't tell you that little Johnny didn't go to university because he was the main carer of his disabled mum.

The Gatsby benchmarks are very useful tools for shaping good CEIAG but don't encompass evaluation of activity - I'd like to see that built into the new statutory framework.

  • Levelling the playing field between academic and vocational routes is a very welcome objective. There has been talk of a UCAS for apprenticeships for quite a time.

My concern is that schools are judged on how many pupils they get into university, in particular Russell Group universities. This needs to be altered along with the mindset that many teachers have that success is going to university.

  • The value of skills and the first mention in a long time of the CEC skills passport

Not heard about this for a while. It will be interesting when we start to hear how this will be implemented.

  • A commitment for CEIAG to be seen as a tool for social mobility, mentioning the link between good quality CEIAG and lowered NEET numbers and higher wages.

You won't find me arguing with that statement.

  • Declaring the aims of the anticipated statutory guidance
  • consider the prestige attached to careers information, advice and guidance
  • seek to raise the quality of careers provision for people of all ages
  • ensure we are truly addressing the skills needs of our country
  • support those who are most disadvantaged and use careers to improve social justice
  • focus our efforts on securing the end goal of meaningful skilled employment, ensuring a country that works for everyone

So, my reaction? More to the speech than first met the eye.

My only other concern is when, oh when, will careers professionals be valued again?