This piece first appeared on the LEP Network
To nobody’s surprise, the recent report by the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy into Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance, has found the current state of affairs to be inadequate. The report concludes that, “Careers education, information, advice and guidance in English schools is patchy and often inadequate (p3),” and that “too many young people are leaving education without the tools to help them consider their future options or how their skills and experiences fit with opportunities in the job market (p3).”
In terms of how this might be changed for the better, the report clearly identifies Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and Labour Market Information (LMI) as playing a crucial role. For instance, one of the five recommendations in the report’s summary stated:
“Careers advice and guidance should be grounded in accurate information about the labour market. The Government should ensure that Local Enterprise Partnerships have the capacity—and are encouraged—to provide up-to-date, good quality labour market information to schools, colleges and careers professionals in their areas (p3).”
Of course this leads to the question of how LEPs might go about doing this, and one possibility that particularly impressed the Committee was that of West of England LEP, who have produced an “annual series of user-friendly reports [bringing] local employment data to life and [ … ] designed to support careers and employability professionals (p22)”. For anyone who wants to find out more about how they have done this, a fuller account can be found here.
Are there any other ways that LEPs could fulfil this task? The answer to this is yes. We have recently partnered with two Local Authorities – Southampton City Council and the London Borough of Hounslow – to help get objective information on occupations, job trends, salaries and similar careers into their communities.
In the case of Southampton, the Council set up a dedicated website – Access Southampton – in order to provide Year 9, 11 and 12 pupils with information on routes into higher education courses, help for job seekers, tips on filling in application forms and building a CV, and improving interview skills. They then incorporated detailed local LMI into the site, in order to offer the city’s residents objective information about occupations in the area. Since introducing this, the Council has been encouraging schools to make use of the LMI, which is freely available, to base careers lessons around it (for more details, please click here).
In the case of Hounslow Borough Council, again a need was identified to inform local residents about the opportunities in their local labour market, and so they set up a dedicated LMI website to give people the insight they need to make informed decisions on their future career based on clear and easy-to-understand evidence. Again, this has been introduced into local schools, this time through the Spark! Education Business Partnership. According to their director, Andrew Dakers, it is this “underpinning LMI that Spark, careers advisers and ultimately young people need to make better life decisions” (for more details, please click here).
The MPs who authored the report are clearly aware of what is at stake, claiming that a failure to tackle the problem of bad careers advice will continue to “exacerbate the skills mismatch, which in turn will have a negative impact on the country’s productivity (p30).” They are also well aware of the key role to be played by LMI, stating that “accurate labour market information is vital to providing young people and their parents with guidance about available routes and salaries (p31).”
Their solution identifies LEPs as being in the best spot to deliver this kind of information to those that need it. The examples of West of England LEP, Southampton and Hounslow all show the sorts of things that can be done. It is now up to LEPs to take the initiative and to deliver the kind of CEIAG that we all want to see.
If you would like to find out more about how our LMI can be used to bring better careers information to young people, contact firstname.lastname@example.org