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Last week, the crossbench peer Lord Aberdare hosted a timely and valuable debate in the House of Lords on “the case for high-quality careers education and advice to be available to all students.”

Lords from all parties (and none) engaged with contributions focussed on recent progress and the work that still needs to be done. A full transcript of the debate can be found on the Hansard website, but here are some of the key points

Lord Aberdare started the debate by summarising the current state of play:

“For some years careers education has been the poor relation of education provision. The Digital Skills Committee, on which I served, described it as “patchy”; later, the Social Mobility Committee found that it was “failing young people greatly”. A 2013 Ofsted report found that too few schools are providing careers guidance that meets the needs of all their students.

“[But] There are now clear signs of a new optimism and energy in the careers education field, not least thanks to the groundwork laid by The Careers & Education Company since its establishment in 2014, and leading up to the Government’s long-awaited Careers Strategy, announced last December.

“The strategy has been widely welcomed, and an Ofsted report earlier this year found that, “careers guidance within schools is improving”.

Conservative peer and former government minister Baroness Bottomley referenced the conversations she has had with individuals working on the ground:

“… I go to my own sources and telephone people in the areas I care about to ask them what is really happening ... Out there, and across the country, the new strategy is working. It is exciting, things are happening and people are engaged, and I have not met the customary cynicism… I enormously welcome the Careers Strategy, published last December.”

Baroness Bottomley also praised the work of some of our partners around the country including the Greenpower Education Trust and the University of Hull.

Former Education Minister and Labour Peer Baroness Morris highlighted the fact that careers education has a much wider impact on society and social mobility and addressed some of the challenges ahead:

“… it is not just about careers education; it is about the sort of society that we are. It is about how many mums and dads have the confidence to aspire for their children; it is about how much social capital we put into our communities…

“You have to do three things. You have to give the kids knowledge about the opportunities. You have to give them the skills to understand and analyse themselves so that they know their strengths and weaknesses. Then you have to give them the ability to make effective decisions. You have to do all three things and, if you do, you get it right.”

“..the Government will now say that the Careers & Enterprise Company and the requirement for schools to develop and publish a careers programme are the means to get that right. I congratulate the Government on bringing that forward.”

Conservative Viscount Younger, responding on behalf of the government, provided some perspective on the current state of careers education:

 “In 2014, Ofsted published a report that identified employer engagement as the weakest aspect of careers provision. In response, the Government established the Careers & Enterprise Company, much mentioned in today’s debate, to work with schools and colleges to build relationships with local businesses and employers.

“We have laid the foundations for an effective careers system but we recognise that there is more to do. IIf we can transform the careers support that we offer to young people in this country, we can help them achieve the futures they deserve. Our economy will benefit, and we will truly become a country of opportunity for everyone—something we all so want to happen.”

In closing the debate, Lord Aberdare talked of the future challenges and made a call to arms for those working in the sector:

“…what matters most now is that we move from promises—very encouraging promises from the Government in their Careers Strategy—to delivery. We need to focus now on delivering against the targets that the Government have set, while recognising the very important and valuable points that so many Lords have made.”

For more information about how we are supporting schools and colleges with the governments Careers Strategy you can read our Implementation Plan.