Graham Stuart is the Chairman of the Education Select Committee, and the MP for Beverley and Holderness.
In October last year, the Education Select Committee visited Bradford College. Whilst there, I met a young man whose experience typifies a slow-burning scandal: namely, the inadequate quality of the careers advice on offer in our schools and colleges.
He was taking a course to join the uniformed services. He had wasted the previous year on a course that was not right for him and would not have led to a job in the fire service, which he wanted to join. To add insult to injury, this young man had found out during the appropriate course that the fire service is now shrinking, and there was unlikely to be a job for him at the end.
The system is failing that young man – and thousands like him. They need good-quality careers guidance if they are to make informed choices about the courses that they take at school, and their options when they leave. This is particularly true at a time when one in five young people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed.However, with a few honourable exceptions, that support is currently not available. Since September 2012, schools have been legally responsible for securing access to careers advice for their students. This transfer of responsibility has, regrettably, been a serious mistake. Schools were not given extra resources to supply careers services. Perhaps more importantly, they are not rigorously and routinely evaluated on careers advice, so it gets neglected by head teachers.