The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission welcomes the creation of a new public interest company to improve careers advice. Our annual report highlighted the current problems, including lack of enduring employer-school partnerships, patchy provision, and a lack of clarity from the government on how schools will be held to account for careers advice. It is right that action is being taken to address some of these challenges.
The government must ensure that the planned investment is effective: £20 million is being put behind the company. The main objective of the organisation will be to broker relationships between firms and other organisations such as charities with schools and colleges. But the Secretary of State for Education has said that it will be for the new company to set its strategy. To ensure the creation of the new company serves all pupils well the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission recommends the following:
- The company must target less advantaged pupils and schools. A measure of success will be the degree to which schools that are hardest to engage are incentivised to utilise the services offered as well as the degree to which external organisations are incentivised to support young people beyond the current hotspots of London and the Edinburgh-Glasgow corridor;
- The company board must represent the best expertise in the field. The company’s plans must be grounded in most up-to-date practical knowledge. The set-up process should recruit a skilled board with experience of effective and evaluated programmes and potentially a wider advisory membership to enhance its strategy;
- Senior regional champions should sit on the board to ensure coverage is strong in all regions. The company must serve all of the country and ensure those areas that are most in need of careers-related activity receive their fair share of support. A test of the new company will be linking young people in rural and coastal areas to the best employment opportunities as well as large cities and towns;
- The impact of substantial new public investment must be evidenced and the Company must be supported by further action from Government. The Department for Education is currently legislating for new powers to link pupil and earnings data which should form part of the accountability measures we expect the government to set out. Government also needs to focus much more on destinations when assessing the performance of schools so that it becomes as influential on the behaviour of schools as the 5A* - C measure has been.
We look forward to assessing the progress of the Company in the coming months.