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Tanja Kuveljic

Believe in Young People


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It is (not) business as usual for careers advice under the new government



The ascension of Theresa May to the highest office in the land presents a real opportunity to inject some energy in to the previous government’s skills policies. Despite pledging to create an unprecedented 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, the Government Careers Strategy has been severely delayed and policies such as the Apprenticeship Levy and public sector apprenticeship targets have been mired in uncertainty since they were announced.

Sajid Javid, the former Business Secretary, dragged his heels on delivering adequate work experience opportunities to secondary school pupils and school leavers, even as apprenticeship places became disproportionately allocated to the over 25s. Equally, schools are expected to deliver Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) to young people but are yet to receive a coherent careers strategy to guide them.

We can expect the shape of careers support for young people under the new government to be broadly similar to that of the previous – despite wholesale changes at the Department for Education and a new Secretary of State. Many of the initiatives in place will continue. The Apprenticeship Levy is now enshrined in law, and work had already begun at The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) before David Cameron resigned. The CEC consists of a Careers and Enterprise Fund and an Enterprise Advisor Network, all aimed at improving careers advice in schools and mentoring access for young people from employers. We must maintain a tangible commitment to establishing these enduring relationships between local employers and schools if we are to stand any chance of achieving the goal of eradicating youth unemployment.

And the work we do at Believe in Young People (BiYP) has shown that this approach is effective. As a charity, BiYP brings together educators and employers to develop and prepare young people for future employment through an integrated curriculum programme. We will shortly demonstrate through our pilot scheme that partnerships deliver clear benefits to both employers and young people. Employers have benefited from up to 80% recruitment cost savings while 60% of young people that have completed our pre-employment programme are considered employable.

I am encouraged by Theresa May’s first speech as Prime Minister -- her strident message promoting social mobility suggests this government will approach skills policy with a renewed sense of purpose. But this government will face serious challenges as it goes about attempting to open up opportunities for young people and transform lives.

May’s government will have to build upon the foundations laid by its predecessor, but it has much less time to deliver on ambitious commitments to improving IAG. Time will tell if May’s message on social mobility can be translated into real change. The first step to achieving this will be to get employers, schools and those responsible for the front line delivery of IAG fully behind the comprehensive Careers Strategy that we’ve all been waiting for.

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