January 19, 2022 dmh


Mark Jenkinson MP …. The (Private Members) Bills Sponsor

“ ….The Bill extends careers advice down from the current year 8 to year 7 to ensure that children are given the information they need to make the best possible choices at the earliest juncture. The sooner we can provide children with careers options, the sooner we can address some of the gender, class and other work stereotypes that are already starting to bed in. The Bill also brings academies into line with local authority-controlled schools, ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity regardless of their postcode. As we know, some academies are not statutorily bound but are bound by their funding agreements, while others are subject to no requirements at all. The Bill gives Ofsted the tools that it needs to guarantee that our children benefit from first-rate careers advice throughout their school careers and across the country.

As a direct result of the Bill, approximately 650,000 year 7 pupils across England will become entitled to independent careers guidance, and we are bringing 2,700 academies into scope. The Bill puts into statute the Government’s commitment in the “Skills for jobs” White Paper for the UK’s post-pandemic recovery. It builds on the important work that is already being done nationally to develop a coherent and well-established careers system—a sector in which Cumbria is a leading light.

As Members will know, the Government are already committed to the national roll-out of careers hubs, and have taken action to support the careers of young people through schemes such as kickstart. As I said earlier, the Careers & Enterprise Company is increasing young people’s exposure to the world of work, and helping schools and colleges to deliver world-class careers guidance for their students in line with the Gatsby benchmarks. The National Careers Service provides careers information, advice and guidance through a website and a telephone helpline. More than 3,300 business professionals are now working as enterprise advisers with schools and colleges, doing a lot of the face-to-face guidance that strengthens employer links with schools. The result is that 3.3 million young people are now having regular encounters with employers, up 70% in just two years.

Education providers, training providers and careers services in my Workington constituency continue to rise to the challenge in the face of often large socioeconomic challenges. The Cumbria careers hub was launched in January 2019 to deliver the Government’s careers strategy for Cumbria after the local enterprise partnership’s skills investment plan identified a significant challenge in developing skills in our county.

The process is accelerating, with 100% of schools in the hub matched with an enterprise adviser from a pool of senior business volunteers. It has been successfully replicated across the country, with 45% of secondary schools and colleges now in careers hubs. We are seeing rapid improvements in hubs, with disadvantaged areas among the best performers. The link between careers and career pathways is essential for developing and attracting talent to Cumbria, owing to the area’s declining working-age population, and their success is to be celebrated.

It is therefore critical that we nurture homegrown talent by giving young people the skills and confidence they need to make the most of the opportunities within a forward-looking global Britain, to help close the skills gaps in areas like Cumbria and to attract investment. It is simply not enough to nurture talent; we must also work to retain it and attract it. Furthermore, careers advice, in line with the Gatsby benchmarks, must be tailored to the jobs market in a local area, which is why conversations and relationships between employers, schools and careers advisers are so important. This Bill ensures that those channels of communication are built upon. The Bill helps to ensure young people are aware of the opportunities that lie on their doorstep, as well as those that exist further afield. Young people often tell us that one of the biggest barriers is not knowing what careers exist.

Simplifying the current system whereby careers duties are imposed on secondary schools by a combination of statutory provisions and contractual arrangements, there are no requirements whatsoever on some of the older academies, is an important part of this Bill. The importance of extending the careers duty to all secondary pupils cannot be overstated. Extending the duty to all academies and alternative provision academies places the same requirements and standards on all types of state-funded schools, which puts all state-funded secondary pupils on a level footing and gives Ofsted the tools it needs.

We need to start setting out to children, as soon as possible, the options that will be available to them—not just sixth form and university but further education, apprenticeships, T-levels and other technical education qualifications. The earlier our young people start to consider these options and receive the appropriate guidance, the greater their chance of making the best possible choice.

University technical colleges—I have a fantastic one in my constituency—form an important part of the offer, but that could mean changing schools at 14. This option should not be put in front of a child at 13. It should be talked about from a much earlier age. Although it is important that young people are aware of their options, the last thing we want is for them to get to year 9 and feel like options are being imposed on them or, worse still, are non-existent, which is why flexibility must also be built into the guidance.

Engaging with employers from an early age can inspire young people and help them relate to the career opportunities to which their circumstances, abilities and interests are suited. The Bill recognises and makes use of the work already undertaken as part of the national careers system and, more importantly, it continues to raise young people’s aspirations through regular and meaningful engagement with employers and workplaces.

Having spoken in depth with education providers, parents and guardians, careers advisers, employers and, most importantly, young people themselves, I am more convinced than ever that this Bill will help to unlock the potential of generations to come. It is difficult to imagine a more worthy cause than to give our children the confidence and skills they need to be able to fulfil their dreams.

I am grateful to everyone who has worked on the Bill and helped to shape it. Their research, knowledge and observations have been invaluable and have created something that will serve our young people well. This Bill is about helping young people navigate through obstacles and avoid blind alleys, and it will prevent them from ending up in a career cul-de-sac.

We spend so much of our lives at work, so it is paramount that we give our young people the tools to find employment that is worth while and fulfilling. It is not simply about boosting the economy; it is also about wellbeing and helping to foster a culture of personal growth and aspiration from the starting line. More fundamentally, it is about creating a fairer system across our education system that allows everyone to realise their potential and make the best contribution possible to their communities, wherever they live and whatever their background.”

Hansard 14 January


The Bill completed its Commons passage on 14th January  and received its first reading in the Lords on 17 January and is awaiting a date for its Second Reading 


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