NIACE welcomes National Careers Service

4th April 2012

The launch of the National Careers Service is a result of the government’s reform plan for Further Education and Skills – New Challenges, New Chances (December 2011) – which emphasised the importance of advice on careers and skills to help individuals make informed choices. The new service can be accessed online or by calling 0800 100 900 for free.

Dr Helen Plant, NIACE’s lead on adult guidance, said:

“The launch of the National Careers Service is a welcome indication of national government’s on-going commitment to the development of a universal, high profile service for adults. Particularly in the context of today’s challenging economy and labour market, adults of all ages need timely access to information, advice and guidance to support them to plan their careers and to make and act on decisions about learning and work.”

“The service will have a crucial role in equipping adults to navigate the changing and increasingly complex landscape of fees, funding, loans and entitlements around learning. Adults will need help to identify and weigh-up the likely costs and benefits of different learning options, to understand how any potential investment in learning – including through the taking out of Level 3 loans from 2013 – relates to their future aims and aspirations, and to make informed decisions about the acquisition of debt.”

“We are especially pleased to see that, despite the obvious pressures on public finances at this time, the offer of face-to-face guidance will continue to be available to those who need it. All adults aged 19+ (18+ for JCP customers) will be able to access one face-to-face session, while people from priority groups will be eligible for up to three sessions. The online and telephone channels have potential to support many, but for those who are furthest away from learning and work, who face challenging circumstances, or who have reached critical stages in their life or work, there will often be a need for more intensive, individualised advice and guidance.”

Mark Ravenhall, NIACE’s Director for Policy & Impact, said:

“Every year adult learners pay testimony to the importance of clear impartial guidance in helping them get on and stay on courses. Much of the current reform agenda is dependent on the National Careers Service being a success. NIACE is committed to supporting its development over the coming year, but hopes to see a similarly robust service replicated for young people.”

“NIACE is particularly concerned about young people between 16-19 years old, who are not yet eligible to take up the face-to-face offer. The impact of this is likely to be most acutely felt by those who have benefited least from their education to date and are in greatest need of help to establish a successful path to learning and work. NIACE would like to see access to career guidance as an integral element of emerging policy to tackle the issue of youth unemployment and to see colleges and training providers offering access to face-to-face provision for those who want it as an integral part of their programmes for this group.”

Professor Stephen McNair, NIACE Senior Research Fellow, said:

“We are delighted with today’s news. NIACE has always believed that good careers guidance is critical to ensuring that people are able to develop and make good use of all their talents, in work and life more widely. In the 25 years since Government first commissioned us to make recommendations on the design and development of a proper guidance service for adults we have seen many minor improvements, and brief experiments. At last we have a proper service which we can be proud of. The only disappointment is that there is no comparable service for young people.”