All 7 contributions to the Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Act 2022

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Tue 22nd Mar 2022
Thu 31st Mar 2022
Royal Assent
Lords Chamber

Royal Assent & Royal Assent & Royal Assent & Royal Assent

Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill

Second reading
09:47
Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson (Workington) (Con)
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I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

When my name was first pulled out of the private Members’ Bill ballot, I was presented with a wonderful surprise and a rare opportunity—a chance to take forward real and meaningful change on a matter that is very close to my heart: helping young people to realise their potential. This Bill affords us a genuine opportunity to put words into action by changing the law to extend careers provision in schools.

At present, the statutory duty to provide careers guidance falls on maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units, but not academies, although many academies do indeed have a contractual obligation to secure independent careers guidance through their own funding agreements. This landmark piece of legislation will seek to address this anomaly by placing the same requirement on all types of state-funded secondary schools, helping to create a much more level playing field. It is also paramount that the advice available to our young people should be consistent, of the highest quality and accessible across the board. The standard of guidance should be based not on a postcode lottery, but on a set of clear principles with the best interests of the children at its heart.

As a father of four, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that children face in school and how difficult it can be to decide on a suitable career path. Choosing a career can be an incredibly daunting experience; I am 39 and I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. Without the proper guidance, it is easy for young people to find themselves on the wrong path and facing in the wrong direction.

We need early ongoing discussion that involves the young person in a process of continual reorientation, making them aware that they are masters of their own destiny and allowing them to make informed choices at every stage of their journey. This will allow for intervention and advice to prevent them from going too far down a blind alley or a career cul-de-sac, and discovering too late—or certainly not as early as they would ideally like—that they are not where they would like to be. That is why it is so important that we give our young people the best careers advice we can at the very earliest opportunity.

The choices we make at school during this critical early phase help define who we are, what we go on to achieve and ultimately who we become. This legislation is also particularly important and timely given the disruption caused by covid-19. We know that many young people are understandably anxious and uncertain about their education and employment prospects in these unprecedented times. Their ideas about their next steps may well be changing as they respond and adapt to the considerable challenges ahead. We have a saying that the north wind made the Vikings—in other words, adversity can be beneficial if we use it as an opportunity to make us stronger, but even the Vikings would not have got far on their nautical adventures without suitable navigation tools or the right skills. That is why it is so important that young people receive the right advice at the right time to make the right choices for them.

In my constituency of Workington, there are pockets of deprivation and unemployment. As someone who grew up in the heart of northern working-class communities, I am aware of the stark disadvantages faced by so many young people. They have so much to contribute, but often they are written off far too soon. Recognising the existence of a problem is the first step in solving it, and we must close this attainment gap and ensure that no child is left behind. If we are serious about levelling up, giving all children access to careers advice is one of the most important weapons in our arsenal.

Young people need support to understand their options and to act on them. Careers guidance helps them make sense of the labour market and navigate successfully into education, training or employment. Providing this enhanced careers education and guidance makes economic sense, too, because it will contribute to a high-skills, high-productivity recovery. It will support all young people in developing the skills and attributes they need to succeed in the workplace, and in some cases will nurture the community leaders of the future.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. Can I be clear that the Bill extends the statutory duty to academies to provide careers advice? I am shocked that they are not doing that already. Does he have the number of academies that are not providing careers advice?

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention as he makes an important point. Many academies, by virtue of the funding agreements put in place over the past eight or nine years, are under a duty to provide this guidance. Many of the others will be doing so. Off the top of my head, I think about 1,300 out of 2,800 do not have it in their funding agreement. The Bill puts them all on the same statutory footing, giving Ofsted the tools it needs to manage consistent careers advice across the board.

The Bill extends careers advice down from year 8 to year 7 to ensure that our children are given the information they need to make the best possible choices. Speaking to the point that my hon. Friend just made, it will bring academies in line with local authority-controlled schools. It will help ensure that everyone has the same opportunity, regardless of their postcode, but it will also give Ofsted the tools it needs to ensure that our children, from across the country, are benefiting from first-rate careers advice throughout their school career.

The Bill will put into statute the Government’s commitments in the “Skills for jobs” White Paper for the UK’s post-pandemic recovery. It will build on the important work already being done nationally under this Government to develop a coherent and well-established careers system. The Careers and Enterprise Company, for example, is increasing young people’s exposure to the world of work.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) (Con)
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Does my hon. Friend agree that where formal careers advice can be given, there is also an opportunity for volunteers to come into schools and talk about their careers and what they do? That is something we really should be pushing. Lawyers, business owners, doctors or people who work in the Foreign Office can come in and speak to those schools in their local areas and show children what is out there for them to do.

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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Indeed, and I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. That is exactly part of the Careers and Enterprise Company’s remit: supporting schools and colleges to deliver world-class careers guidance with the use of enterprise advisers from the local business community so that they deliver in line with the Gatsby benchmarks.

We also have the National Careers Service, providing free careers information, advice and guidance to young people and adults through a website and telephone helpline. More than 3,300 business professionals from local businesses are working with schools and colleges as enterprise advisers to strengthen employer links. Almost 3.3 million young people are now having regular encounters with employers, which is up 70% in two years. I am grateful to the Careers and Enterprise Company for its engagement with me on this issue and in particular for its recognition that there is much more to do.

Before I go into further detail about how the Bill fits into all of this, I would like to take some time to commend the excellent work already accomplished in my constituency in the face of often large socioeconomic challenges. The Cumbria Careers Hub was launched in January 2019 to deliver the Government’s careers strategy for Cumbria after the local enterprise partnership’s skills investment plan identified a significant challenge regarding developing skills in the county. I am pleased to report that the hub currently includes 37 schools and four colleges and has the ambition to achieve full coverage across 52 institutions in the next academic year.

The Cumbria careers hub is exceeding national performance on careers education across three quarters of the Gatsby benchmarks, most notably regarding employer encounters and experiences of the workplace. It also exceeds the national careers hub average. The process is accelerating, with 100% of schools in the hub matched with an enterprise adviser from a pool of senior business volunteers.

The process is being replicated successfully across the country, with 45% of secondary schools and colleges now in careers hubs. We are also seeing rapid improvements, with hubs in disadvantaged areas among the best performers. Careers leaders’ roles have been developed in schools and colleges and are becoming a recognised profession.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech and I commend him on the Bill. On deprivation, what is his assessment of the impact that the Bill will have on children in deprived communities and their career aspirations? I apologise if he was about to make that point, but I would love him to emphasise that, because it is at the heart of his fantastic Bill.

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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My hon. Friend makes an incredibly powerful and important point on deprivation and the ability to have business volunteers as enterprise advisers face-to-face with those children, showing them that options are available to them if they may not favour an academic route or be able to go on to university. This year, of course, we have seen the launch of T-levels, which gives alternative options at 18 as well. I will come to some of that further on.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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To pick up that point, is it the case that the education White Paper that is coming out is putting employers at the heart of the curriculum and that that will benefit children in schools?

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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Without a doubt. Again, it is really important to have that face-to-face interaction with employers, showing people who may not be as academically minded as some of their peers and wish to go on to university that there are options available to them post 16 and post 18. In my constituency, we have often led the way on apprenticeships, but it is important that that is replicated across the country.

Craig Williams Portrait Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) (Con)
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My hon. Friend is being very generous. He is making a powerful speech, and I commend him on the Bill. He mentions technical education, and of course the Baker clause mandated more careers advice on vocational, technical education. I look at the Bill enviously—I will make a speech on it later—as the Baker clause and the Bill pulled together will provide great careers advice in England. Can the Bill also apply to Wales if that was wanted?

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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My hon. Friend makes an important point. I understand that it is in the competency of the Senedd should it wish to do to something similar. I will come to this, but I have a fantastic university technical college in my constituency and have met regularly with Lord Baker of Dorking on the Baker clause and UTCs. He has done some fantastic work in that space.

By October 2021, 1,950 careers leaders will receive a fully funded training bursary, and 2,750 will benefit from a free online careers leader training course. The link between careers and career pathways is essential for the development and attraction of talent to Cumbria owing to the area’s declining working-age population. It is therefore critical that we nurture home-grown talent, giving our young people the skills and confidence that they need to make the most of opportunities in a global Britain. This will help close the skills gap in areas such as Cumbria and attract investment. However, it is not simply enough to nurture talent; we must also retain it. This new Bill will help to ensure that young people are aware of the opportunities that lie on their own doorstep, as well as those that exist further afield.

Cumbria is lucky enough to have an award-winning enterprise adviser, Roger Wilson, enterprise adviser of the year 2018, who works closely with the Careers and Enterprise Company to provide support to the Enterprise Adviser Network. I am delighted that Cumbria careers hub also celebrated two careers champion winners this year—Beacon Hill for innovation and its now former headteacher Judith Schafer for leading the way.

I will also take the opportunity to mention Step Up Cumbria, which was launched to support year 11s to make a transition into further education in response to the challenges of covid-19. It was relaunched with a new website in April 2021, an online platform developed primarily for year 11 school leavers to find information on further education opportunities in Cumbria. The programme has now been updated in recognition that the covid-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging time for students, especially for those leaving school this summer and looking to begin the next chapter of their education and career journey. The programme itself was established by the Cumbria LEP’s people, employment and skills strategy group and sponsored by the Cumbria careers hub, with learning resources provided by Lakes College in my own constituency, Carlisle College, Furness College and Kendal College.

It may be helpful if at this juncture I set out in a bit more detail what the Bill does and why it is so important. Maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units now have a statutory duty to secure independent careers guidance for year 8 to year 13 pupils. For pupils of compulsory school age, this must include information on 16-to-18 education and training options, including apprenticeships. This is a good starting point, but it needs to go further. Therefore, this Bill will extend the duty to all pupils in all state-funded secondary education. It will establish consistency across education settings by extending the statutory duty to academy schools and alternative provision academies.

Moreover, all academy schools and alternative provision academies will also be required to have regard to the statutory guidance that underpins this legal obligation. This simplifies the current system, whereby careers duties are imposed on secondary schools through a combination of statutory provisions and contractual arrangements, while some of the older academies are not under any careers requirement whatsoever. The Bill will extend the statutory careers duty to all academy schools and alternative provision academies, placing the same requirements and standards on all types of state-funded secondary school.

These legislative changes will put all pupils in all secondary schools on the same footing. Having spoken with a broad cross-section of education leaders and careers advisers, as well as parents and other stakeholders, I feel that the importance of extending the careers duty to all secondary pupils cannot be overstated. We need to start setting out to children as early as possible the options that will be available to them—not just sixth form and university, but further education, apprenticeships, T-levels and other technical education qualifications. The earlier our young people start to consider these options and receive the appropriate guidance, the greater their chance of making the best possible choice.

University technical colleges form an incredibly important part of our offer, but that could mean changing schools at age 14. We must do more to open up this option to all of our young people, and I pay tribute to colleagues in this House and in the other place, such as the right hon. Lord Baker of Dorking, who works tirelessly in this field.

While it is important that young people are aware of their options, the last thing we want is for them to get to year 9 and feel that their options are being imposed upon them. Young people often tell us that one of the biggest barriers is not knowing what careers exist. Engaging with employers from an early age can inspire young people. It can also help them relate the career opportunities available to their circumstances, abilities and interests.

The legislation recognises and makes use of the work already undertaken as part of the national careers system. But, more importantly, it continues to raise young people’s aspirations through regular and meaningful engagement with employers and their workplaces. The legislation will build on work to promote access to all pathways from education through encounters with education and training providers, and access to high-quality careers and labour market information. I look forward to seeing the legislation pass through this House, but I am even more interested to see how it will help future generations on their own journey to fulfilling their unique potential.

10:04
Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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I congratulate the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing this forward. I know this is mainland-only education, because education for Northern Ireland is done through the Northern Ireland Assembly, but I am very happy to support the hon. Gentleman. There is no doubt that the thrust of what he has put forward is the very same thing that we wish to see in Northern Ireland. So I want to replicate and support what he is saying, for the very reasons that he put forward on behalf of his own constituents, but also on behalf of education across the English mainland.

In Strangford, I have a good working relationship with South Eastern Regional College, which has responsibility for careers. I have sat on the board of governors at Glastry College outside Ballyhalbert all my married life. I remember returning from honeymoon, and the board of governors meeting was on and they were surprised that I turned up. That was some 34 or 35 years ago—so a long time ago. The relationship I have had with local colleges has been incredible, and the important role that they play in giving students career pointers is vital. The hon. Gentleman has outlined that point, for which I thank him.

We have a working relationship and partnership with local secondary and grammar schools. In my constituency of Strangford, most of those skills are probably physical. In the Ards peninsula in particular, there is great demand in the construction sector, whether for building, carpentry, plumbing, plastering, or electricity work. All those physical skills are developed through courses at the local college. That means that in many cases, young boys and girls in local grammar and secondary schools perhaps already know where they are going. We live in a rural community, so there will also be great demand for students, boys and girls, young men and women, to go into agriculture, which is also something we wish to see.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey
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A really interesting part of the hon. Gentleman’s contribution was about local links and community. How does he think that strengthens communities such as his in Strangford to ensure that they can be vibrant and carry on moving forward?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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The hon. Gentleman has exactly grasped the point about the importance of these interactions, partnerships and local communities. I still sit on the board of governors of Glastry College. I am not going to mention any names, but some young boys there I knew from the beginning were never going to achieve educational standards because they were going to work on the farm—a family farm in the local community. Sometimes it is good to have those opportunities. Not every person will excel at education—not every person can, because we are all different and have different abilities. The community part of this is important. I have lived there for all but four years of my life.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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When the hon. Gentleman says that not everyone can excel in education, does he mean that not everyone can excel in academic education, but that we also have technical levels, which give those children an opportunity to excel in something that is not academic, but a more technical vocation that gives them skills and helps them to get amazing jobs?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I thank her for making that point. Although I did not say that, that is what I meant. She put it much better than I was able to and I thank her for that clarification.

ICT skills are also important. There is the business and financial sector, the agrifood sector, as well as renewable energies and recycling. Those are all important businesses for the economy as we move forward. There are health and life opportunities, as well as advanced manufacturing and engineering.

In Northern Ireland, I have talked this over with the Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, and he was telling me about the dearth of engineering skills in Northern Ireland. It is rather disappointing—I have been in contact with my further education college—that it does not have a course for engineering. All my elected life, whether on the council, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or now as the MP for Strangford, I have supported engineering opportunities for young boys and young girls. The Minister told me that there were 800 opportunities in engineering in Northern Ireland—the dearth is as big as that. It is important to look at these things as well.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes (Clwyd South) (Con)
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Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the disproportionate amount of technical education that takes place in academies will lead to a significant boost to the careers facility and careers development overall for secondary schools in England?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I certainly do. To be fair, the hon. Member for Workington said that in setting the scene, which is why I am very happy to support the thrust of his contribution.

In Northern Ireland, we have seen a growth in business and financial services, with excellent wages and opportunities for advancement. Although our wage structure in Northern Ireland is not as high as on the mainland, we can already see opportunities for better wages. It is essential that we future-proof and engage our young people to ensure that they can take the opportunities that exist across Northern Ireland.

As I said, that is a devolved matter. I am not convinced that we have fully grasped this approach in Northern Ireland in relation to engineering; it seems that we must not have if there are as many as 800 job opportunities available and people have not taken them up.

Craig Williams Portrait Craig Williams
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It has been a parliamentary ambition of mine to intervene on the hon. Gentleman, so I am happy to fulfil that today. He is making a powerful point about the devolved nature of this matter. Does he share my view that we must push to get measures such as the Baker clause and the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) into the devolved nations, and will he implore them to look at today’s debate and put something together in a devolved fashion?

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I send all my contributions in this House on to the relevant Minister in Northern Ireland. I hope that the relevant Minister reads them. I cannot be sure, but in this case I think she will, because she happens to be a colleague of mine; she is not only a political colleague, but she is elected to the same constituency, Strangford, as an MLA. For me, it is critical to ensure that what is happening here today can be replicated in Northern Ireland. I have already taken up directly with the relevant Minister the issue of the engineering dearth and the importance of filling that gap, but I will follow this through again today.

It is important that we forge a way forward that can deliver the career opportunities that the hon. Member for Workington referred to. It is my belief that the meeting of all these things should be facilitated by a direct Government strategy to bring them together. I know that the hon. Gentleman hopes to get that response from the Minister, and I am quite sure that he will. I know the way the Minister responds to these issues, and the hon. Gentleman will certainly get a good response on investing in our greatest and most important resources—our youth and their ability.

Information and communications technology is concerned with software development, databases and so on. Many questions and strategies are based on a database; no matter what field it is—whether it is health or education—we need the database. I therefore believe that ICT is another career opportunity for young students and pupils.

Let me conclude by congratulating the hon. Member for Workington on bringing forward the Bill and thanking all those who have had a chance to intervene. We look forward to a positive response from the Minister for the hon. Gentleman. I congratulate him on having his Bill before the House in a very short time. I hope that I will be as successful with my Bill later on.

00:00
Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey (Tatton) (Con)
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I start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on his success in the ballot and on bringing forward this important Bill that I absolutely endorse because if, like me, hon. Members believe in extending opportunity to all, careers guidance is one sure way to do that. In fact, I believe in it so much that more than a decade ago I set up my own charity If Chloe Can to bring careers guidance to schools.

I work with schools across the country, including many in deprived areas, with pupils from all backgrounds in all areas. I bring them successful people from backgrounds such as theirs who have wonderful careers to inspire and motivate them, and to make them start thinking while they are in school, “What would I like to be when I leave school? What can I do? What would I like to achieve in my life?”. How can anybody aspire to work towards something exciting in a career if they do not know what careers exist—more importantly, if they do not know what careers exist for them? They need to see people like them achieving in all walks of life.

Letting pupils know early on, while they are in school, what paths are trodden, what hobbies are done, what work experience can be gained, and what exam grades are needed for a profession is absolutely key. It fires pupils up to do more in school and to go for those grades, because they know what they are in school for. I have seen pupils doing so much better in education once they have a purpose and they know what it is all about.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) (Con)
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I am sorry to interrupt, because my right hon. Friend is making an important point about where we find careers advisers and from which backgrounds they come. Would she say a little more about the people who are going into schools and how they are incentivised to do so and to help by preaching about their success, and to lead as an example in their community? We could all do with understanding how to do that in our constituencies to encourage it further.

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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Most people, if asked, really want to go in and speak to pupils about what they do and the opportunities that are out there. I work with more than 200 successful women who give up their time for free because they want to help the next generation of pupils to do well. In the last decade, I have worked with thousands of pupils; I have written career books; and I have done a touring play with the National Youth Theatre and spoken to a thousand pupils at a time with panels of experts on stage who, as my hon. Friend mentioned, all gave up their time to talk about an array of different subjects.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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When it comes to career opportunities, it is sometimes overlooked that there are opportunities in arts and culture, as the right hon. Lady has referred to. It is not always about jobs in construction or engineering; there are other opportunities out there as well.

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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Absolutely; that is what it is all about—finding the profession for the individual. What makes them tick and inspires them? Good consistent careers advice can change lives. Without it, some pupils will just drift, not knowing what they want to do.

Without doubt, covid has brought about significant changes in the world of work and in the teaching landscape. Good careers advice has always been important, but never more so than now, with the disruption in schools and the changes in the job market. It is really important to support young people. Data suggests that 65% of children currently in primary school will enter a job that has not been invented yet. As we know, that will not be a job for life. People will do a series of jobs, and that will speed up. That means that they will have to learn, relearn, upskill and reskill on a regular basis.

Clare Hayward, a leading businesswoman and chair of the Cheshire and Warrington local enterprise partnership put it simply: “We need to inspire young people about an array of jobs, new emerging jobs, roles they might never have been thought of in tech, digital, life science, jobs of the future. We need schools to engage with the business community who are alert to these future opportunities and have staff who can talk passionately and excitedly about these jobs. And we need schools not just to push traditional careers and traditional routes after school,” but to focus on all the opportunities that are out there.

Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) (Con)
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I apologise for interrupting my right hon. Friend; she is making a very powerful point. Placements in work have been extremely important, especially in this post-covid period. Does she agree that when pupils, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, go into a workplace and see that there is something they can do, it raises their aspirations?

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. It is about seeing how things are done. Some people can get all their inspiration by sitting in a classroom, but many cannot. They have to see the practical application. They have to see that job and that is what will inspire them.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey
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My right hon. Friend is articulating her point very well, and I pay tribute to the work that she has done in this area. Does she agree that it is okay for young people not to know straightaway what they want to do, and that by giving them those opportunities, they can be malleable? We all know what a career change is like, and some of us might have another career change after this, but I am sure she would agree that having options is important.

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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My hon. Friend is so right. Blessed are those who know immediately what they want to do. Some people might know, perhaps in sport or if they are creatives or those who are gifted in a certain way. Many of us do not know for many years. In fact, life is a journey, finding out where we fit in, and we will do many jobs along the way, hopefully adding to life and society as we go along.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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My right hon. Friend is making an interesting point about the fact that we will have many different careers and relearn and have to look at new jobs that come along. There is an interesting point here: if people are allowed to get experience and gain advice from careers advisers early on, whatever they do later on in their life, they have the understanding of how they can engage with businesses and how they can find out about new careers. Doing it sooner serves people much better later in life if they do decide to make changes. Can my right hon. Friend see the Bill going further on that in future years?

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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Absolutely; my hon. Friend makes a very good point. It is important that someone knows that they are going to have to upgrade their skills, where that support is and that it is not a mountain to climb, but that they will probably do it alongside their career throughout their life.

I believe, too, that we cannot put more on the shoulders of teachers. The Government need an updated careers strategy and better links with the National Careers Service and the Careers & Enterprise Company and to signpost better so schools know where they can turn to get the extra support. Not every teacher will know about every profession. They need to bring other people in, so that signposting to those voluntary organisations, charities and businesses is absolutely key.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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To take up my right hon. Friend’s point about access to careers advice, has she found, in the fantastic work that she does through her charity, that covid has meant that more people are using interactive, virtual communication and that this enables a greater throughflow of information on careers? She made the point about the difficulty for teachers of knowing everything. This will mean that they can have a greater contribution from the outside world than was possible previously.

Esther McVey Portrait Esther McVey
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I must ask my hon. Friend: has he read my speech? That is exactly the point that I was coming to next, so he has fed me very well for my next line

Technology should be an enabler, too, providing greater and more diverse career advice. In the last 18 months during covid, my charity went online. It is now working with Zoom so that we can deliver online weekly sessions to schools over the year, with role models, guest speakers and modules on confidence, communications, goal setting, assertiveness and resilience. It is up-to-date, of the moment, real-time information, interactive and thoroughly questioning so that children can know where they want to go. It is bringing out pupils’ curiosity, linking businesses and schools, pupils and professions, using the Gatsby benchmarks and offering multiple touchpoints over the year, with different role models in different careers. It shows pupils post-school opportunities, whether those are apprenticeships, jobs, further education or universities, and it looks, too, into funding, sponsorships, learning on the job or just getting a job.

Careers advice to support pupils’ choice is key. It is about the pupil and their choice and fulfilling their ambitions. It is not about schools ticking boxes about where people go afterwards. We need to make sure it is about the pupil.

This is a big area and there is much to do. This Bill is by no means the end of the story, but it is a very important step. I am particularly pleased to be able to support my hon. Friend the Member for Workington in his mission—his ambition—on something that I know is very dear to his heart.

10:24
Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes (Clwyd South) (Con)
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I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for bringing his private Member’s Bill to the House and for his excellent and heartfelt speech. Not only is he the father of four children, but it is quite clear to all of us from his general commitment to the subject that this is a cause very dear to his heart. I also commend the speech, and the huge practical commitment, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey). It was an outstanding contribution, based on huge experience and huge commitment, and something we can all learn a great deal from.

I strongly support the Bill, which addresses the anomaly whereby academies are not currently bound in the same way that local authority schools are to provide careers guidance. I would also like to pick up on the point, made eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams), about the importance of the Welsh Government also learning from this. Speaking as the representative of Clwyd South, which has a considerable number of people who struggle in life, to put it frankly, and need all the help they can get in planning their careers and taking them forward, I think this Bill, and all the important information and objectives in it, is highly relevant to the Welsh education system as well.

As the father of two daughters who have not long left the secondary school system themselves and are now pursuing careers at university, I know just how vital careers support and guidance can be for pupils of secondary school age. We have considerable experience of discussing with them what they would like to do later in life, and all the help that they can be given is vital. Not only does it give young people the tools they need to make informed decisions about which subjects to study at further and, in some cases, higher education; it helps in channelling the interests and innate talents of our young people into rewarding and fulfilling careers later in life. As other speakers have mentioned, careers guidance and support is particularly vital, as covid-19 has led to uncertain career prospects. Young people, particularly the most disadvantaged—to whom I have referred already—need help from schools to access education, training and careers opportunities, and to navigate the labour market.

In my day—some years ago, it has to be said—careers advice was not up to much, but it was a much simpler process, as the job opportunities were much more limited. Now the range of careers open to people to follow is vastly greater—which is something we should all welcome—and much more varied, more sophisticated and in many ways more fractured, so help is vital. I am pleased that this legislation will not only extend the current requirement to provide careers guidance to include children in year 7, but will implement the proposals in the “Skills for Jobs” White Paper, published in January 2021, which my hon. Friend the Member for Workington referred to. The Bill is therefore part of a wider strategy on the part of the UK Government, which I strongly welcome and support, to develop a more joined-up careers system, which includes personal guidance for young people and improved access to digital services nationwide.

For example, the Department for Education is supporting a range of measures to ensure that all students choose a career that is right for them, including—as has been referred to—the Baker clause, which ensures that all schools and academies must publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education, courses and apprenticeships to visit schools and talk to all pupils, and ensure that the policy is followed. One particularly important theme that has emerged from this morning’s debate is the importance of balancing the academic with the technical and vocational. In my case—I hope they will not mind my saying this in the Chamber of the House of Commons—my children have different aptitudes. One is more technical and vocational; one is more academic. I think that both fields are equally important. Both can lead to equally challenging and fantastic careers. I am delighted that in the 21st century, unlike the last century when I was setting out in life from school, the technical, the vocational, the engineering that has been referred to are considered to be as important—as vital—as the academic careers. That will be further enhanced and strengthened by the Bill, because the academies will bring an influx of increased technical careers advice into the system. I believe that many academies are very well financed, and I hope that one of the unexpected benefits might be a big boost for the whole careers system from that additional demand from the academies.

The National Careers Service, which was launched in 2012, provides people over the age of 13 with free and impartial information, advice and guidance on learning, training and work opportunities. The services are provided face to face, via telephone and online, and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton said earlier, the introduction of virtual and Zoom technology will make a significant difference in that respect.

I strongly support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) about professionals going into schools. I have done so myself, to talk about both my political career—such as it is—and, more importantly, the work that I did in finance and business beforehand. I take on board her point about careers advice being important at all ages and at all stages in a person’s career, because one never knows when one might need it.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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I have to point out that while my hon. Friend does indeed have a career in politics and had an excellent career in finance beforehand, he missed out the fact that he has also written a book. Perhaps he could talk about that to the schools as well.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to my authorship. I am not sure that the House wants to be detained by significant details of what I have written about, but suffice it to say that it covers the hospitality industry, in the context of Lake Vyrnwy—which resides in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams)—and architectural and social history. The point that I think is implicit in my hon. Friend’s intervention is that one never quite knows where one’s career is going to go, so the more advice one can get earlier on, the better it is.

Let me return to the practical advice given by individuals going into schools. The fieldwork done for the Government studies shows that nearly all face-to-face and telephone customers, and now, I think, virtual customers—96%—experienced some form of positive outcome in the six months following their call or meeting. I think we all know of young people who are nervous about their prospects, and recognise that a helpful conversation with someone who is friendly and experienced can make a significant difference to the choices that they make in life.

The “Skills for Jobs” White Paper aims to improve compliance with the Baker clause, as has been mentioned previously, through the introduction of a three-point plan to create legal requirements and take more action to enforce compliance—something with which I strongly agree.

More broadly, the Government have taken action to address the impact of the pandemic on career opportunities for young people. It includes one of the key policies introduced by the Government, which I think all Members on both sides of the House would strongly support—the kickstart scheme, which provides funds to create new six-month jobs for 16 to 14-year-olds on universal credit—as well the Department for Education’s employment and skills guide. I know from my own constituency, and I have heard other Members say the same about theirs, that the kickstart scheme, which is in many ways closely related to the ambitions of the Bill, has had a massively beneficial effect on young people’s employment prospects.

Richard Holden Portrait Mr Richard Holden (North West Durham) (Con)
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One of the great things about the kickstart scheme is that it not only guarantees a job for six months but it guarantees on-the-job training. We are all interested in ensuring that people are not just shoved in somewhere before being booted out the other end but are getting something that will help them later in life, which is great training and opportunities.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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I thank my hon. Friend for his excellent intervention, with which I strongly agree. It is important that not only do we give advice but that we give training, too. This point was made earlier in the debate. People do not necessarily know what they want to do career-wise and, therefore, the opportunity to take part in a particular career, albeit at a relatively low level, gives them valuable experience.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey
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The other important thing is instilling ambition. I have many manufacturers and established SMEs on my patch, and one of the things they talk about is having a route from apprentice to managing director. Does my hon. Friend agree that will be a big part of this careers advice?

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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Absolutely. I could not agree more, and one of the hugely beneficial aspects of careers guidance and education, in preparing pupils at secondary school for further education and the working world beyond, is the much greater emphasis on apprenticeships. I am particularly proud of the UK Government’s involvement and all the apprenticeships they have introduced, but it is a key part of the private sector, too.

I have spent quite a lot of time over the past five years going to careers fairs with my two daughters, and I noticed even in that five-year period a significant change in the emphasis from the academic and traditional routes to the more technical routes. The apprenticeship system enables those routes to become a reality so that we are now seeing young people who, rather than going to university, are perhaps taking a course with an accountancy firm or a legal firm. They do a combination of apprenticeship training in that particular profession and practical work, which is a very attractive route.

Lia Nici Portrait Lia Nici (Great Grimsby) (Con)
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I completely and utterly concur with my hon. Friend. Does he agree that the brand of degrees and undergraduate programmes now needs to step up to what we are doing with apprenticeships, career apprenticeships and traineeships because, actually, a person can study to level 2, level 3, level 4 and all the way through to degree apprenticeships, earning while they learn, and not have to gather lots of student loans that will stay with them for a very long time?

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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I could not agree more. I strongly feel that this is a hugely beneficial improvement to the education and careers system. For too long, there has been a stratified, structured approach in which only the academic route at universities really matters. My older daughter is studying a vocational course at university, which is fantastic and is to be strongly supported. My hon. Friend’s point is made with passion and great accuracy, and I hope we can develop more of it within the education system.

There is also a point to be made about how the universities are currently approaching education. I strongly hope they will go back to face-to-face teaching, because it is simply not right that teaching should continue virtually while, for instance, we meet in physical form here in the House of Commons.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I could not have said it better, and it is also essential that universities do not try to charge the same tuition fees if they are going to do courses via Zoom.

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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I strongly support my hon. Friend’s intervention. This is something that has been brewing in my mind as I see the fractured form of education that is being provided by the universities attended not only by my children but by the children of many of my friends.

My hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici) spoke about the integration of training and paid work within the further education system, and that process will shake up the universities by making them realise that it is not just about academic courses or the odd lecture. It has to be a much more structured and much more concentrated form of education for our young people.

In conclusion, I add my voice to those of other hon. Members here today in supporting my hon. Friend’s Bill, which does a great deal of good for pupils across our country and will no doubt have a tangible and positive impact on our young people at a time when they are making some of the most exciting and important decisions of their entire lives.

10:40
Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab)
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Let me start by paying tribute to the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson). He has put a lot of effort into this Bill, and he has obviously cared about this issue for a very long time. The way that he has approached this Bill has been gratefully appreciated by Labour Members. Not only has it been open-hearted, but he came to see me and briefed the team alongside the Minister, showing that he is dedicated to getting the Bill through, not just at any cost but in a way that takes the House with him, so that it will deliver some of the outcomes that he is after. As I say, it was a very open-hearted speech and a very informative one for everyone in the Chamber.

The right hon. Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) made a very informative speech, and it was good to learn about some of the practical work that she has been doing in schools up and down the country. She sparked a series of interventions and a debate about her work, which focused on how important it is for people, particularly from deprived communities, to have experience of different workplaces, and I absolutely agree with that. It is really important that people from deprived backgrounds have experience not just of university campuses, but of business environments, especially prestige business environments. I say that not so that we channel young people in a certain direction, but so that, should they choose that career pathway in the future, it will not be a leap into the unknown.

We also need to recognise that there is an equal opposite. I hope that students who attend schools in areas of advantage and affluence also take time to experience the modern manufacturing workplace, because they do not often have experiential time in such settings. They need to get that experience, because the modern manufacturing and vocational workplace is extremely exciting and offers incredible careers. We need to make sure that young people from all backgrounds experience all different types of future pathways so that they will not be making a leap into the unknown.

After the huge expansion of the academy programme, thousands of schools across the country now operate independently from local authority control. An increasing proportion of these schools are now part of multi-academy trusts, pooling resources, expertise and governance with similar groups of institutions. There are real questions about the way that some academies—not all academies—operate. The majority, as with every other school, are very dedicated to the future pathways that local young people take. As a former chair of governors of an academy, I know full well the effort that many academies and schools of all status put into ensuring that the pathways for young people are the best ones for their talents. None the less, some academies and multi-academy trusts operate their career development in a way that is not fit for purpose, and it is clear that the requirements placed on many schools in this area must apply to them, too.

Richard Holden Portrait Mr Holden
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My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) has in the past few days introduced a Bill to ensure that MATs are looked at by Ofsted. Will the Official Opposition commit to working with him and with people like me, a former special adviser in the Department for Education, who support my hon. Friend and agree that a small number of MATs need extra oversight, particularly in areas such as careers education, which we should be driving forward for everybody?

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle
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Only on Wednesday I had a conversation with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) about his Bill, for which he, too, is an enthusiastic salesperson. The Opposition are certainly open-minded to that suggestion. I have already met the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North and will stay in touch with him, and he has met the shadow Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), to talk about his Bill. I am happy to meet the hon. Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) as well—in fact, I would do so enthusiastically—to talk about not only the issue at hand but others, too, because there are more shared beliefs about the way forward to tackle the core education challenges than is sometimes apparent in the heat of debate, even though we diverge on specific things when it comes to their application in practice.

The Bill before us will go some way towards tackling the challenge of fragmentation and the ways that some schools deliver careers development in different ways. We welcome any moves towards the embedding of high-quality careers education throughout all state schools equally. Such education is a vital way to expose children to options for work that are alternatives to those that surround them as they grow up.

Careers & Enterprise Company research found that 73% of children who receive careers education feel more aware of different careers and 69% have a better understanding of what they need to do to achieve their ambitions. Under this Government, though, far too many children are missing out. According to that research, only 30% of schools and colleges have a stable careers programme, meaning that thousands of kids are missing out.

The expansion of an existing legal duty to cover all schools is welcome—it is common sense—but a more fundamental challenge needs to be addressed. We must ensure that schools have the capacity and expertise to make careers education a true priority. Cuts to school budgets have had a real effect on school leaders’ ability to prioritise careers. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found that despite Tory promises to level up spending, per-pupil funding will not return to pre-2010 levels by the end of this Parliament.

When spending is squeezed, it is natural that schools prioritise subjects such as English, maths and science, and topics like careers are so often left behind. Indeed, when one speaks to the academies that do not prioritise careers, often the reason cited is that they simply do not have the resources to do everything.

Lia Nici Portrait Lia Nici
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The hon. Gentleman talks about funding, but I worked in education for 22 years prior to coming to this place and I have seen the effects of the huge amount of funding that the Labour Government put into education. It did nothing whatsoever to improve education; in fact, it decimated the good work that was happening, because although funding is important, it is more important to get funding in the right places for the right reasons. More funding is not always needed; it is about getting funding in the right places to do the right thing for the students, not the staff.

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle
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I do not think this is the debate in which we should go down that path—[Interruption.] Well, I am happy to compare the two records. We are entering an era in which the school day is reducing at a time when there should be more experience. Just this morning I heard a message from a parent who had been contacted by the school to tell him that the school day was being reduced, to finish at 2.55 in the afternoon, because of the lack of resources to allow teachers to go through the day and to do all the prep work that they need to do. For one day a week, the school day is being reduced for a further half hour: each Tuesday is called a compression day—

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle
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Let me finish the point; the hon. Lady cannot intervene on a response when it was her own intervention in the first place—I know that enthusiasm is rewarded in this place, but one must not get ahead of oneself. It is not possible to make the argument that there is no link between investment and outcomes in education. We will have plenty of opportunities to debate the comparable records of both approaches.

Groups such as the Careers & Enterprise Company do excellent work, but they need attention and effort from a school careers lead, too. With funding squeezed and super-sized classes on the rise—my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) released data to the House in recent days showing that 70% of students are now in class sizes that are rising above 30—the job has been made more difficult. It is welcome that the Government are beginning to acknowledge the importance of career development. However, with Ofsted characterising provision as a mixed picture, there is much more to do. This Bill is an important step, but it is a first step. The Government need to follow Labour’s lead in putting careers education at the heart of its school programme, and we will be working with them to make sure that they do.

10:50
Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) (Con)
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What a pleasure it is to follow the hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle). I did not agree with everything he said, but some of his points were apt, particularly those about prestige careers; young people from my community certainly have not had access to those.

When I was first elected, I visited my local further education college, Hopwood Hall College. One of the most encouraging things I discovered was that the principal of that college, Julia Heap, said that her version of levelling up was to ensure that every learner from her college had the opportunity to take any job they wanted to and had the aspirations to look at any job, so she was matching her students to those careers from the start. I want to talk briefly about Hopwood because it already has quite a robust careers programme, which is the sort of best practice that we could probably learn a bit from.

The college has been investing in careers for quite a while now. In fact, one of its careers advisers, Ceri Wood, won the national Careers Champion award in 1920—[Interruption.] Oh, I mean 2020. I do apologise; we have invented a Tardis. Due to the pandemic, the college was one of the first to have its matrix quality standard review carried out remotely, and it is now part of the working group to review the new matrix framework. It successfully achieved the bronze Quality in Careers kitemark, and continues to work with external agencies such as Positive Steps and the National Careers Service to support the aspirations of 16 to 18-year-olds, adult learners and beyond.

That raises another important point: this is not just about young people. There are lots of adult learners. We have already touched on the fact that several of us will have multiple careers. I am sure that quite a lot of us are hoping that those careers will be in this place, but we have to be realistic about the fact that that may not be the case. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) made an extremely important point when she said that lots of young people will go into jobs that do not yet exist. We need to ensure that there is agility, and constant lifelong learning is an important part of that. In introducing this Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) is embedding some of that into how things are done.

Let me turn to the importance of industry placements. Again, Hopwood Hall is one of the colleges introducing the new T-levels. In fact, I think it is taking on seven courses, which is quite a weighty onboarding. Like a lot of colleges, it has struggled to get industry placements during the pandemic, which starkly shows how important such placements are. In order to make them a success, people need to be able to go into the workplace; that workplace experience will drive a lot of future development. The college is still working with employers to support students. Several large employers in the area, including Engie, Prevail and Pretty Moi take them on already. That is hugely encouraging, but if there are any employers listening right now, I encourage them also to get in touch.

During National Careers Week, the college held virtual events, so it has been trying to keep this programme going during the pandemic. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes) mentioned that this is a really good way of getting the information through in a large stream. It is especially true that teachers will not always have access to all the knowledge of what is available out there in the workplace, so this virtual engagement has been important, notwithstanding the importance of being able physically to go and do stuff; I think we are all enjoying being physically back here.

I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South that universities should absolutely be going back to face-to-face teaching as soon as possible. I spoke to a young trainee nurse the other day, and her single biggest complaint was that she was being charged a fairly substantial amount of money but was not able to do parts of her course. How can she realistically go on to a ward and catheterise somebody or draw blood if she has never physically done it? For some jobs, it does not matter how many technical manuals people read. Some of us are fortunate enough to be academically minded. I count myself in that; I am thoroughly impractical, as anybody who has ever seen me trying to change a tyre or a plug will attest to. But lots of people learn by doing, and that kinaesthetic learning is important. If we are talking about parity of esteem between technical education and academic education, as there should be, we need to give people the tools to do it.

Hopwood’s other big achievement is that it is now part of a careers coalition. It has recognised that these things cannot be done in a silo. The charity that my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton mentioned is a perfect example of that. People almost need a roving brief when it comes to careers. We cannot say, “This college has a fantastic careers service and this one does not.” Best practice needs to be shared, especially when different colleges share different competences. Hopwood has an extremely good relationship with Rochdale College, which is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Tony Lloyd), as the name would imply. It tends to specialise more in GCSEs and A-levels, whereas the more technical and vocational courses tend to be at Hopwood.

The college has recognised that sometimes, because of a lack of guidance and a lack of information available, people find themselves on the wrong course. There are plenty of colleges that will simply get them through the course. They will drop them down a grade and say, “Aim for a D”—actually, it is a numbered system now, isn’t it? That shows my age. It was not O-levels I did; I did take GCSEs. Hopwood recognises that not everyone is on the right course. People will find a year in that things are not going properly. The college has that constant dialogue and transitions people on to different courses. It will move them on to a technical qualification, or it will move people who have proven themselves to be more academically minded off a vocational course and send them to Rochdale. They will have that dialogue about what they are trying to achieve with their career. That is a really important part of developing this area. If we are to have a statutory footing and we are going to embed that Baker clause, a wider-ranging approach is definitely needed. Colleges need to be having that dialogue as well.

The other thing I would like to pick up on is that the Bill will guide more people into apprenticeships, which is very dear to my heart, so much so that I will give a namecheck to a young man called William Lee, who just joined my constituency team on Monday as an apprentice. That has been a game changer for us. We have this bright young person who clearly wanted to be involved and working in politics, and he did not know what was available to him. He had looked at academic routes. He is very bright and very articulate, but when someone starts applies for these jobs, employers will say, “What is your experience? What is your background? What is your involvement?” I put out a search for an apprentice researcher, because I wanted to give an opportunity to somebody who knew they wanted to do this, but did not necessarily know how to do it. We are three days in, but he has been an absolute godsend.

If there is anyone out there who is looking for a way to bring someone on board as part of their team—it might be a small team or a big team—apprenticeships are a fantastic way of giving somebody an opportunity. It is about that onboarding without necessarily looking at the traditional academic routes. To be fair, there is a large amount of learning time involved in apprenticeships. They are rigorous. Modern apprenticeships are every bit in parity with an A-level or a tier 3 qualification, and we should definitely be looking at those.

Pardon my rambling—I had a series of ideas I wanted to cover, and some very good points have been made that I wanted to pick up on. This is an incredibly important piece of legislation, because no student should be missing out on that opportunity. It may only be a college of 1,300 students, but that is a lot of young people who are missing out on access to proper careers advice. That is a huge amount of damage being done.

The one thing that we all share across the House is the idea that the worst possible thing is wasted potential. There are a huge number of people out there who, for whatever circumstances—it may be down to the community they grew up in, their economic means or their family situations—do not necessarily have the same opportunity as their peers, and careers advice is a good way of levelling things up. We need to ensure that when we talk about levelling up, equality of opportunity is the basis. Education is the silver bullet in almost every sense. It is the one thing that gives everyone a fighting chance. We have recognised already through how we have reformed education that not everybody learns the same or has the same goals, but everybody wants to get ahead, and the Bill ensures that we embed into the system that people know where they are going with that.

10:59
Simon Fell Portrait Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness) (Con)
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It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson). His point at the end on not wanting to waste potential is key to the debate and to the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson), which I rise to support.

I know that my hon. Friend is passionate about this subject, on which I have heard him speak on numerous occasions. His own career path has taken him through a wide range of training providers and led him to these green Benches. His Bill is an excellent set of proposals that supports the aspiration of extending opportunity to all. It would require that all state-funded schools in England provide careers guidance for children for the entirety of their secondary education. That is the right thing to do, because the evidence tells us that starting young is key to making careers advice work and stick as a catalyst for the people it is aimed at. Aligning our legislative framework with the Gatsby benchmarks would put us on the right footing to deal with not just the challenges that young people face as a result of covid but future challenges, which we know are many and varied. We have a changing employment scene, and people will have to continually upgrade their skills, pivoting right or left—whichever way they might have to go—and this approach would set them on that learning path early doors, which we should encourage and support.

We all know that skills are the most essential thing that people can gain these days. When I was at school, it was presented as a binary choice—either go to university or do not—but now the framework is different. The paths to be followed to a successful career are very different indeed. I have worked in charities, run a small business, worked for a large corporate and worked for small and medium-sized enterprises, and at each stage I learnt something new. That helped me with my career progression. It is essential that we embed that principle in young people as much as we can. Let my example be a warning to anyone that if they spend their tender years—and perhaps not so tender years—not knowing what they want to be when they grow up, they may end up here lecturing people.

The Careers and Enterprise Company ran a survey last year and discovered that almost three quarters of school and college leavers believe that careers education has become even more important because of covid and that they are prioritising it more as a result. High quality careers education is crucial, and evidence shows that it is linked to higher academic attainment in terms of both motivation and exam results, with those who know what they are aiming for and how to get there working harder and being more motivated to get to it. That leads to increased wages on entering the workplace, reduced chances of being not in education, employment or training and a better alignment of careers aspirations with the labour market. My hon. Friend is so right to be aiming towards that.

I will give a real-world example of why that matters, why it is important and why it works. Furness College, based in my constituency, is one of the top-placed colleges for apprenticeship recruitment. Figures from 2020—not 1920—show an increase of more than 12% in students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds taking up apprenticeships in that year. The college trains more than 700 apprentices each year in 20 sectors, with more than 80 apprenticeships to choose from. It genuinely pitches its apprenticeships to the labour market meaning that students entering the college have a higher certainty of getting a job and the right skills to go on not just to a job but to a job beyond that and solid career progression. The college has a dedicated team of development coaches who work with employers to ensure that they are helping to meet training needs. The coaches can often help in accessing skills grants, so the funding piece is supported, too.

That is all good stuff, but it shows how important it is to build those links between industry and education. As many hon. Members have said, we really need to embed aspiration at an early age, when people can see the direct link between a career they hope to get to and how they can accumulate the skills they need to get there. That is what the Bill seeks to unlock, and that is why I am so keen to give it my support.

The Bill is the missing piece from the “Skills for Jobs” White Paper, sitting alongside commitments to help people find a career that is right for them, providing a cohesive careers system, clear information and signposting and the right infrastructure to deliver that strategy. With young people more than ever facing uncertain career prospects, they need help from schools to access education, training and careers opportunities to navigate the careers market. Crucial as this Bill is, it is worth noting that it comprises only one strand of a thick bowstring of activity being supported by this Government at the moment. Many Members have mentioned the kickstart scheme, which provides funding to create six-month jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds on universal credit. I wish to highlight the work of one provider in my constituency, Right2Work, for which I have a particular soft spot. It helps young people with complex needs through supported internships. It is a back-breaking piece of work trying to find jobs for some of these young people and supporting them into them, but thanks to the kickstart scheme they have been got into not only supported internships, but work. That builds confidence and it gives them skills and a route to grow further. So I wish to pay tribute to the remarkable and, frankly, life-changing work that that provider does.

We also have youth hubs springing up around the country. I am glad that I will be at the opening of my local one on 30 September in Barrow. This crucial work is supported in large part by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the work that my local DWP and jobcentre team are doing is remarkable. They seem to be unrelenting in their efforts to reach out, find more young people and give them access to the skills and training they need to be supported. I should also pay tribute to other similar local organisations in Barrow and Furness: Inspira is also linking skills, jobs and young people together; and the Furness Future Leaders’ Academy and Bright Stars are helping young people to gain skills and confidence, in terms of not only leadership, but how to run a campaign and get engaged in their community, and why and how they can spot issues that matter, run with them and gain skills with them. This mix and matrix is equipping young people incredibly well. I wish I had been through a similar environment when I was growing up. This is a good and important Bill. It will help to close that attainment gap that bedevils constituencies such as mine, and I am very happy to support it for that reason.

11:07
Craig Williams Portrait Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire) (Con)
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It is a great pleasure to rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) and his Bill. I was delighted to have the opportunity to intervene on the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). He is not in his place at the moment, but I really appreciated his idea of sending a copy of every contribution he makes in this place that has a devolved suggestion or idea to the relevant Minister in the devolved Administration. I will be working on that myself in respect of the Welsh Government, and I pay tribute to the Northern Ireland Executive for responding to every contribution from him—this must be a Department in itself.

On careers, life is presenting a lot of change at the moment for anyone entering the labour market. The fact that I have a pen behind my ear attests to the fact that I come from a family of carpenters, and my brother reminds me time and again that when he had his careers advice, they did not listen. When he went to see his careers manager, he knew he wanted to be a carpenter—his dad and granddad had been carpenters, and he was going to be one, and I can confirm to the House that he is one—but would the careers adviser listen? There was a keen interest in getting him to university, but that was never going to happen and I could have told him that for years, as he would allude to. Members can imagine my careers conversation and his, and can imagine Christmas dinner conversations between three carpenters and a politician.

In this place, we have alluded to the fact that technical education and academic education need parity, and they absolutely do. That is why I intervened in the opening remarks about the Baker clause and why I am so passionate about getting outside expertise into our schools. I pay tribute, as other Members have, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) for the excellent charitable contribution that she has made. That kind of impact—that lively, active impact in our schools—will change careers advice for the better.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, and I hate even to contemplate the sense of disappointment in the Williams family when they learned that he was going to be a politician, not a carpenter, but I am quite interested to know whether he has read the book by my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes), of course showing a diverse range of experience.

My point is really about the fact that when we get people, businessmen and those with different skills into schools, we are also getting them to understand how those schools operate and enhancing their relationships with those schools and what they can do in the future. We are developing a relationship that actually lasts far longer than the pupils who are there at the time, and we should be encouraging that all over the country, especially in the devolved Administrations.

Craig Williams Portrait Craig Williams
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My hon. Friend makes a very valid point, and he has done so far more eloquently than I will in the next few minutes. I am conscious of the next private Member’s Bill—my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Peter Gibson) is sitting next to me—so I will not go on for too long. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) is right, and I can confirm that I have indeed read the books—not book, but “books” plural—by my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes). I can also say that he offered me a lot of career advice in my day, and indeed may be blamed by most of the Williams family for this career of mine, as he would confirm.

I come back to the main thrust of this Bill, why I am here supporting it, and why I will be imploring the devolved Administrations, particularly the Welsh Government in my case, to follow it for careers advice.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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I look around the Chamber and across at the Benches where our SNP colleagues normally sit, and do I see any sitting there today? I understand that this is a Friday, but when we are talking about education and with the dire situation of education in Scotland, it is surprising that we do not have any representation from the Scottish national party, which leads the Scottish Government in Scotland.

Craig Williams Portrait Craig Williams
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My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I very rarely find SNP Members quiet, and it is a great privilege today to find them quiet. I will say that, of course, the border between Scotland and England is very different. A lot of the education delivered in Montgomeryshire is delivered in England, and people often forget that fact. As a cross-border Member of Parliament, I have a lot of education and health casework because many of the public services delivered for my constituents in Wales come from England. In fact, I went to an FE college in England, despite living in Welshpool, which—and the clue is in the name—is in Wales.

It is often forgotten in this place when we talk about public services in relation to such a Bill that, when it says, “England only”, that applies of course to the geographical area, not to the delivery of public services, which are often to Welsh constituents. While I am on my feet today to implore the application of this Bill in Wales, this will also have a direct impact on my constituents. In my opinion, this is a UK Bill because of the interaction in education across the border. I am sure I will be corrected by Members if I am wrong, but about two thirds of the population of Wales live very close to that border, and they interact on a daily basis with the public services in England. It is nowhere near the same as in Scotland. This is about Wales and England, and long may we continue to hear that, not just in cricket with our dear old English cricket team—I remind hon. Members that it is the England and Wales Cricket Board—but I do not want to deviate too far from the Bill.

I come back to the main thrust of my point about lifelong careers. When people entered the jobs market in the last century, they were looking for a career for life or a job for life. As hon. Members have said, when someone has their first job today, they may, like me, not be in that career for life. Now when someone enters the jobs market, the job they will be doing at the end of their career may not and probably will not exist. I remember a particular hon. Friend saying—I have forgotten his constituency and I will not name him directly because I will get told off, but if I say “fourth industrial revolution”, I think we can all picture the now Whip who would mention that over and over again—and he is right, that the jobs that will be in the market in 20 or 30 years, and the jobs that we need business people to come into schools and act as career champions for, do not currently exist, but we are thinking about them. I am conscious that I have had a good outing and that other Members want to contribute, but I pay huge tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Workington for bringing this Bill to the House. I am happy to admit that, as someone who has put in many, many times for private Member’s Bills, I am incredibly jealous that he got drawn so early on, and that he has brought his Bill to the House so early and championed with such passion something that will help probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the next generation. I think it is terrific.

11:15
Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing forward such an important Bill.

How did someone like me become an MP? How did someone like me, whose mother worked in a jam factory and whose grandfather was a miner for 47 years, become an MP? How did someone who became the first person in her family to stay on at school beyond the age of 16, someone who sounds English but is in fact half Welsh, become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK?

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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Mr Deputy Speaker, beautiful Hastings and Rye is the best constituency.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie
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I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention and give her an open invitation to experience the joys of Ynys Môn.

How did I become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK? It is because I had excellent careers advice. I was sitting in my kitchen having a cup of tea with a certain Conservative councillor called Gillian Keegan. Gillian shared her journey, from being an apprentice in a car factory to leading multi- national companies, to a chance meeting with a certain Baroness Anne Jenkin, co-chair of Women2Win, in a theatre. She is now the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for apprenticeships and skills and is sitting here on this very Front Bench. I am so proud of her and proud to call her my friend.

I, too, shared my journey. With a degree in microbiology, I went to work for Glaxo Wellcome on the production of interferon. I then became one of the youngest directors at UBS and won awards as a leading pharmaceutical analyst at HSBC, before retraining as a maths teacher. Gillian asked whether I had ever thought about joining the Conservative party. Three years later—yes, just three years—I was privileged to become the MP for Ynys Môn, the best constituency in the UK.

At every step of my life’s journey, I have had careers advice. Someone has helped me along the way; someone has shared their life experiences, their time and their address book. When I was just nine years old, a Conservative councillor suggested that I take my 11-plus for grammar school. He sat with me every Monday night to go through 11-plus papers. Thanks to him and some inspirational teachers, I became the first person in my family to stay on at school beyond the age of 16 and to go to university. A couple of years ago, I was giving a speech and I looked down to see, in the front row, that former councillor—this person who had been so inspirational in changing the direction of my life. He had tears streaming down his face. It was a privilege to be able to thank someone who had changed my life so much.

I have seen at first hand how life-changing excellent careers advice and support can be. I taught young adults maths for four years. They all wanted to be entrepreneurs. They loved “Dragons’ Den” and “The Apprentice”. These TV shows inspired them to want to start their own businesses and to do their maths homework. I have worked with Make It Your Business, a network set up by the brilliant Alison Cork. Make It Your Business has inspired thousands of women across the UK and helped with careers advice, and support and encouragement. For many years, I was also a school governor. As part of that role, I spent the day with one of the UK’s super-heads, Sir Kevin Satchwell, and his team at the Thomas Telford academy. One of the things that struck me was the time and effort that Sir Kevin and his team put into their careers support and work experience.

I have also had the privilege of supporting the excellent charity IntoUniversity since its inception, working with the likes of Dr Rachel Carr and Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard. One of the key things that IntoUniversity does is mentoring and giving young people careers advice. It gives them the skills to fly. There are many fantastic charities and organisations that give excellent careers advice and mentoring, but how much better would it be for every child, no matter where they live, no matter their background, to have careers advice for the entirety of their time in secondary school?

As a former maths teacher and mentor, I am delighted to see this Bill reach its Second Reading. The prospect of extending the duty to provide independent careers advice to around 2,700 academy secondary schools will help to ensure parity of opportunity. Delivering that advice across all schools from year 7 will benefit an additional 650,000 pupils each year. Careers guidance in schools is critical to securing a healthy future for our children as well as our economy. Through guidance and support, we can ensure that our young people enter jobs in which both they and the UK can flourish.

My constituency of Ynys Môn has one of the lowest GVAs—gross value added—in the UK. Why? We have good schools, good careers advice and some excellent teachers, but every year we see bright, keen, educated young people leave in droves in search of employment because of the limited quality career opportunities on Anglesey. As a result, we are left with a lower than average percentage of the population with qualifications of NVQ 4 and above, and a higher percentage with no qualifications whatsoever. Those that remain struggle to find good employment. Last year, 6% of economically active males aged 16 to 24 on Anglesey were unemployed, compared with the national average of just below 5%. Those that were in work took home an average weekly pay 20% lower than the UK average.

It can be incredibly challenging to provide children and young people with an insight into exciting potential career opportunities when there are relatively few local examples to work with. One of the saddest things posted on my Facebook page—let us be honest, there have been quite a few—was: “Virginia is ambitious. She will leave the island.” Yes, I am ambitious—for the island. I want to give young people ambition. I want to give young people on the island hope. That is why I am working hard to bring investment to Anglesey. I want to secure the future of the island by offering these young people the opportunities that they so desperately need.

At the moment, however, we risk being stuck in a vicious circle. Our young people see no prospects on Anglesey and then they leave, leaving a shortfall in the skilled working population when companies try to set up locally. It is critical to the economic future of my constituency that our school careers education is not just good but forward-looking and integrated with local businesses, and that it starts when children reach secondary school.

Anglesey is known as the energy island. It is looking forward to how we can contribute to the Government’s net zero targets through renewable energy. The jobs that will come online will be varied, but there will be a strong technical aspect to many of them. That means that we need to start positioning our schools so that they can support children into these great opportunities. Careers guidance and education must be tailored to give them the skills that they will need.

For that very reason, one of my first conversations with companies interested in coming to Anglesey concerns how they intend to engage with our schools and support local people into employment. I want organisations on Anglesey that will enhance our local offering, employ and involve local people, use local third-party providers and, ultimately, help to drive our local economy and keep our local culture and our local language alive. Their plans for schools outreach are particularly important, because we need to drive up aspirations and show our young people that there is a prosperous future for them on Anglesey.

Businesses already on Anglesey, such as Orthios in Holyhead, M-SParc and RAF Valley, already engage with local schools, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and maths arena. Others that hope to establish operations on the island should Anglesey gain freeport status, such as Tratos, intend to open skills academies and engage with local education providers.

One example of how we can drive careers support on Anglesey comes from the recent experience of the National Nuclear Laboratory, which has recently opened a new office at M-SParc in Gaerwen. The NNL’s approach to engagement has been to undertake specific and targeted STEM outreach programmes in local communities to excite and encourage local students to think about a career in science. Its engagement plan links with career pathways, whether vocational or academic, and it is working to develop a strong pipeline of talent for the nuclear sector.

I fully support this Bill and the changes it proposes, and I look forward to seeing independent careers advice being offered in all secondary provision from year 7. I urge the Welsh Government to adopt a similar approach and to work to improve careers advice in secondary schools across Wales so that all our young people, who are our future, can receive high-quality careers education.

11:25
Steve Double Portrait Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Con)
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It is an honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie), who has the second most beautiful constituency in the country—of course, St Austell and Newquay is the best.

I left full-time education at the age of 16 and went straight to work for Barclays bank. However, I recently had a conversation with one of my former teachers, who remarked that many of my teachers thought I left school long before. I distinctly remember that, in my early years, the only thing I wanted to be in life was a British Airways pilot. I was fixed on this but, unfortunately for me, just before I started my O-levels—I am old enough to have done O-levels—British Airways closed its airline training school, which threw me into complete confusion about what I would do. I ended up doing my O-levels and, almost by accident, going to work for Barclays bank. I look back now and think, “If only there had been better advice to help me think about my career.”

I have since meandered through various opportunities that life has put my way and somehow ended up in this House, but that was never the plan. There was never a sense that this is where I wanted to go. I very much welcome this excellent Bill, and I am pleased that the Government are supporting it to make sure that good careers advice is available to all our students throughout their secondary education. That is absolutely right.

My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Anthony Mangnall) made the important point that we have to be very clear that careers advice is not about closing down the options for young people too early. Very few of us end up doing what we thought we were going to do when we were at school. It is about giving our schoolchildren a sense of aspiration, a sense of all the opportunities that our incredible country provides for our young people, and giving them the confidence and the attitude that they can go and make the most of it, wherever life may take them. It has to be about inspiring them and getting them to lift their aspirations.

I particularly say that because I represent a Cornish constituency, where we struggle with a lack of aspiration among our young people. Very often their view of the horizon is too low, and one of the best things we can do, particularly in secondary schools, is raise the horizon for our young people. Good-quality careers advice can definitely do that, so this is an excellent Bill.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall
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I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend, because he is making an important point. In the south-west, we know far too well how many people are looking over the horizon and are looking to move away to find their future career. They are not aware of the opportunities within their midst. This Bill presumably allows us the opportunity to find what is both immediately available in such areas but also what can be created or invented.

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double
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My hon. Friend makes a very good point. Since I was first elected to this House, I have focused on the need to create better opportunities for young people in the south-west and, in my case, particularly Cornwall. Too many of my peers had no option but to leave Cornwall and the south-west to achieve their ambitions in life. I count myself incredibly lucky that I was able to stay in Cornwall and make a reasonable life for myself, but that opportunity has not been available to many. That is one reason why I have spent so much time in this place championing such things as the spaceport, renewable energy, lithium extraction and all the things that are creating incredible opportunities in Cornwall for the future, so that young people growing up today can think, “I can have a good career in Cornwall. I don’t have to leave the place I love and call home to achieve that because we are creating opportunities.”

Alongside the great career advice that we need to provide, we have to make sure, particularly in some of the most disadvantaged parts of our country, that we create local opportunities for young people who want to stay in their home town and reach their potential in life. That is why the Government’s levelling-up agenda is so important to people like me. We have to create those opportunities.

One of the things that I did was run a business for several years that employed a lot of school leavers. One of my frustrations was that when school leavers came to me, yes, they had academic qualifications but they did not have the soft skills that employers need for them to become good members of the workforce quickly. Sadly, even today when I talk to employers, they tell me a similar story. That is why I really welcome such things as T-levels, which are going to provide an excellent connection between education and the workplace to give our young people the right sort of skills, so that they enter the workplace not just with the academic qualifications and skills that they need, but the attitude that they need to get into the workplace and so they know how to relate and be part of a team. People can only really learn those sorts of things by experiencing them. T-levels will provide that and I absolutely welcome them.

Alongside that, we are moving away from this strange idea that 50% of our students need to go to university. I think that has actually been damaging for far too long. Introducing T-levels and vocational and other qualifications is very important. Technical qualifications are so important and having a really strong connection to the workplace is valuable, and I am delighted with the Government’s efforts and the direction in which we are going in that regard.

I represent the constituency that is the most reliant on tourism and hospitality in the country and I am really passionate about changing the view that working in tourism and hospitality is just a dead-end or short-term job. It is one of the best career opportunities for a young person to get on quickly. It is incredible and provides great social mobility. Yes, people enter it by working in a bar but they can progress very quickly to management or HR, or some other aspect of management. We have to change the perception. I plead with schools, in the career advice that they provide, to get away from the negative view of tourism and hospitality as just a dead-end job. It is an incredible opportunity for the right sort of young person. They can go into that sector and have a really successful career and progress quickly. In any career advice that is going to be provided as a result of this excellent Bill, we need to change the perception of tourism and hospitality to make sure that we are providing good advice in that sector.

In conclusion, I welcome the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) has introduced the Bill.

Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie
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I know that my hon. Friend has become a grandfather recently. Does he agree that this excellent Bill will benefit not only our children, but our grandchildren?

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity to say that I have become a grandfather, and baby George Double is doing very well. I am three and a half weeks into being a grandfather and I am loving my new career in life. It is so important that we lay the foundations now not just for the current generation, but for generations to come. The point has been so well made that the jobs of the future will be different. People will change their jobs probably many times during their careers, and it is very important that we not only give our young people the right skills to make the most of that, but create the opportunities and then give them the advice to inspire them to make the most of whatever opportunities life provides them with. I am sure that this excellent Bill will be just one bit of the jigsaw that helps us to achieve that in future.

11:34
Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) (Con)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on introducing this important Bill. Giving every child the best start in life is a guiding principle of this Government’s approach to education in England. Conservatives believe that no matter their background, the wealth of their parents, their race, gender or sexual orientation, every child deserves a fantastic education and the opportunity to build the foundations they need to thrive in the world of work, and become upstanding citizens in their communities.

When I speak of fantastic education, I do not just mean rigorous exploration in science labs, the unlocking of imagination in English classes, the stimulation of solving maths equations, or the exhilaration that comes from competing in sports lessons. Those are crucial foundations that all children should enjoy and be exposed to, but a fantastic education must offer more, and release the ambitions and talents of young people, so that they can expand their horizons, widen their future opportunities, and gain deeper skills. That second element of the school environment is sometimes neglected and forgotten, but it is crucial if a child is to succeed in work and take full advantage of the opportunities available to them, whether that is moving to university, embarking on an apprenticeship, starting a business, or even travelling, volunteering and much more. Part of that aspect of school life is careers advice and support, and I wish to share one example of that local to my constituency.

Not so long ago, a group of pupils in my constituency—my beautiful constituency of Hastings and Rye—were taken to the City of London through the Hastings opportunity area Broadening Horizons programme, organised by the charity A Capital Experience. Hastings opportunity area has given invaluable funding over the past five years, which I would like to be extended further—hint, hint—as it has been so beneficial to young people in my constituency.

Hastings opportunity area benefits from amazing board members, including Helen Kay, who successfully set up the new flagship free school in Hastings, and Lorraine Clarke, the regional Ark Academy director. She has shown me and proved that although funding is essential, the most important thing is to have good leadership, good structure and professional support and development for teachers to become outstanding. That is key to excellent outstanding schools. Carole Dixon is chief executive of the Education Futures Trust, and the board is chaired by Richard Meddings, with all his huge success in financial institutions at national and international level. They all give our children in Hastings and Rye the chance to broaden their horizons.

The children were taken to the offices of a top company in Canary Wharf, and the purpose of the visit was to open their eyes to jobs and careers that are out there and could be available to them. The group took a coach up the A21 to the City, and by lunchtime the children were looking up in awe at the mighty skyscrapers that were hurtling their way into the sky. Those kids had never been to the capital before, and never witnessed such tall, imposing buildings. They had certainly never dreamed of working in such a place.

The children were taken to one of the huge buildings, which housed the company. As they arrived, they noticed the security guards, the receptionists, the cleaners, and others. It was not long before they were seated in a large room—a place where decisions of great importance and impact are made on a daily basis. That room will have had a monumental impact on those kids. As they sat listening they were asked a simple question: “How many of you could see yourselves working here?” They looked surprised. Some piped up that perhaps they could see themselves working in reception or as a security guard. They were told that they could work hard, and perhaps one day they could be something more than cleaners or receptionists. There is nothing wrong with saying, “You could be directors, CEOs or perhaps even the chairman of an international bank.” They were amazed. Never before had anyone told them to reach for the top, to dream big and realise their deepest ambitions, and that if they worked hard at school, nurtured their talents, they too could be a banker or any other thing they wanted, making big decisions.

I recount that story because it goes to the heart of why I support the Bill. It is no good having an education system that teaches children solely to learn their timetables, do their spelling and memorise equations. We need a system in place that is ambitious for our young people, that offers them hope, and that supports and guides them. Our children in Hastings and Rye are capable of doing what they set their mind to, regardless of their background or where they come from. Sometimes life deals a bad hand, but with the right support, encouragement and aspiration, including from teaching staff, our children can make that bad hand work for them and turn it into a good one.

The speaker in that story was ambitious for those children and gave them encouragement and inspiration to dream bigger and reach further. The teacher offered them support with their education, but the system let them down because they had no careers support, which is vital and crucial. The Bill will ensure that such advice is offered independently to all pupils from year 7 onwards, no matter what sort of state school they are in, including academies. I completely support that.

The Bill builds on the Government’s excellent work in this area, such as the “Skills for jobs” White Paper published in January, which lays out the strategy for post-16 education, training and careers provision. It also addresses the Government’s renewed strategic approach to careers education, including continued public investment in the expansion of infrastructure. Commitments include the roll-out of careers hubs and investment in the professional development of careers leaders to all schools and colleges across England. The White Paper, coupled with the Bill, could transform the way in which we provide careers advice and guidance to young people across England.

I will mention one final aspect that is linked—the role of businesses and employers in the provision of careers advice to young people. When independent careers support is given, it is vital that colleges and schools engage with local businesses and business leaders to ensure that students can hear directly from employers about the skills and attributes they seek and the local opportunities for young people in the world of work.

In Hastings, I recently visited a fantastic company, Focus SB, that is doing great work with the local college to help to make sure that local students are getting the training and education that they need to go into high skill, high wage jobs locally. Gary Stevens, managing director, recently said:

“As someone who came through the ranks as an apprentice, I am keen to provide opportunities for young people to join us on our exciting journey and to grow with the company, which is why I have agreed to become an Enterprise Adviser in East Sussex. I am also keen to encourage applicants from all corners of the community with all levels of ability and mobility to contribute to our growth and development as well as theirs. At Focus SB we have employed three apprentices over the past three years, have widened our own in-house graduate scheme and we have built links with local schools, colleges and universities. I personally have become an Enterprise Adviser and sacrifice some of my time to build relationships with local educators but we all need to do more if we want this valuable asset to remain.”

Those are strong words from Mr Stevens. The drive and dedication of business leaders like him give me hope that future collaboration between our schools, colleges and businesses will equip young people with the skills and careers advice that they need to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

In conclusion, the Bill will go a long way to supporting students with the advice and guidance they need to make reasoned and timely decisions to help them into the world of work. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington again for bringing forward his private Member’s Bill for Second Reading. He has my full support.

11:45
Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson), first on coming top in the private Member’s Bill ballot and secondly on choosing this particular Bill. I do not think that any proposal would have been more worthy of consideration by the House.

In Dudley South we have many very good academy schools, just as we have many very good local authority maintained schools. Many of the academy schools use the greater freedoms they have to establish a strong ethos and character, but I struggle to fathom what it is in the governance and funding mechanisms of academy schools, excellent as they are, that means that the pupils who attend them are somehow less in need of careers guidance than those who attend maintained schools. The truth is that all young people need guidance on their future careers, and, as many Members have said today, that need continues throughout their working lives.

I think that, as people in a line of work in which jobs are not always entirely secure, many of us can identify with the idea that people’s career options can change throughout their working lives. Indeed, I think that the Boundary Commission is prompting me to look towards some careers advice in the not too distant future. The Whips Office are frequently generous with their careers advice, often in very direct and unambiguous terms, although I fear that not all of it may be parliamentary.

However, I think that the really important aspect of the Bill is not so much the requirement to have careers advice as the independent nature of that advice, and its guaranteed standard. It needs to have value—greater value, I think, than some of the careers advice that was available when I was at school 30 years ago. My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes) suggested that the position was similar when he was at school. That advice was probably not as helpful, because it was often provided in-house by teachers who were extremely good at their subjects, but whose understanding of the jobs market and the economy, which had developed since they were at teacher training college, was quite restricted. Their careers advice was generally focused on graduate-focused roles rather than other career paths.

We need an independent, dedicated and extremely skilled careers service to be available to all young people. What is needed is an up-to-date understanding of the jobs market. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) observed, there are so many jobs of the future that do not even exist yet, so those who are advising young people on forward pathways need to understand the jobs market both as it is today and as it is likely to develop in the near future. They also need to understand the full breadth of the economy and the jobs market, and how that has progressed. For people of my parents’ generation, the whole point of a good education was working hard at school so that you did not end up in the factory, whereas the reality now is that many engineering roles, many technical and vocational careers, have rather better prospects than many of the jobs that would typically be taken by graduates.

We need to ensure that the careers service appreciates the value of sectors that may not have been given the status they deserved but have always been important. My hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) mentioned the hospitality sector as an example, but there are many, many others, including the technical skills sector and the care sector. We have a wide range of opportunities in our modern economy.

Young people today find themselves in an increasingly complex world. As they leave school, they will be entering an ever-changing jobs market. It has never been more important to have good, high-quality, reliable careers advice, and that applies regardless of the type of school that a child is attending, and I am glad that this Bill will help to guarantee that.

11:50
Lia Nici Portrait Lia Nici (Great Grimsby) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing this Bill forward. It is utterly vital that all secondary schools and academies have an expectation of being able to offer good quality, independent careers advice from year 7 all the way through to year 13. Having worked in education for 22 years, I know that it is not just about jobs, but about careers. We need to make sure that our young people, and our slightly older people, understand the opportunities that are out there. When we talk about careers, though, one thing we do not talk about is transferable skills. I met a young man last Friday who had a level 3 qualification in mechanical engineering, and he really did not understand how valuable his qualification was in the marketplace and how sought after he was. He was extremely excited and pleased to hear that that was what he had in his back pocket. We must make sure that all of our young people, especially those from deprived backgrounds, have such qualifications.

What I would like to say to all those independent career advisers is that the quality and the relevance of what they are offering is absolutely vital. Young people have no idea what old fogies like us, who have been in the work market for a very long time, are talking about. Members who are old enough to remember Snoopy might recall the teacher who went, “Bwa-bwa-bwaa-bwa”. That is how young people hear old fogies like us. I am afraid that anybody over the age of 23 is quite often not listened to.

What I am doing in the constituency of Great Grimsby is making sure that we have not only people with long-standing and impressive careers, but people who are just starting off on their journeys. My plea to careers advisers, schools and academies is to remember that for people to do well in school and to want to do well in school, they need to understand not only the relevance of what they are doing, but that careers and jobs are about having fun in life. What a miserable existence it would be for a person to have to go to work day after day and not enjoy the people with whom they work or the job that they are doing. People also need to understand that a career is about going to different places. Sometimes we do a job because we know that it will get us somewhere else, so an understanding of the journey that people take is important.

I have a core request to those involved in careers. We cannot expect our teachers to do it, as they are specialists in education, not specialists in careers. Employers, councils and careers advisers all need to work together with our local businesses to make people excited about what is happening in their areas. What levelling up is doing at the moment in places such as Great Grimsby is bringing more inward investment into the constituency than has ever been seen before. There are exciting jobs and careers available. We get to know that because we are in privileged positions, but we need to make sure that we say to our colleagues locally and to our schools and academies that there are some really exciting things coming along. There will also be jobs in new technology that have not been invented yet.

I wholeheartedly support this Bill. We need careers guidance, with several touch points from year 7 onwards, and we need it to be fun and relevant, because when it is fun people will really understand what they enjoy and what their future can look like.

11:52
Gillian Keegan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Gillian Keegan)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on his success in the private Member’s Bill ballot. Obviously he is a very lucky man—he knows that in many ways. I am delighted that he was first in the ballot, and I am really delighted that he chose careers guidance in schools as his priority. As we can see, it is also a priority for many Members in the Chamber, and we are all grateful that he chose it, as many young people across the country will be for many years to come.

I know that, like me and now many Conservative MPs, my hon. Friend is a former apprentice who has enjoyed the benefits of technical education and is keen to make sure that all young people get to learn about this brilliant route into the workplace. What a fantastic discussion, debate, and sharing of ideas and experience it has been. It is wonderful to hear of all the great work going on in our constituencies and how many hon. Members are involved in their schools, careers hubs and businesses, trying every day to bring them all together. It is clear that everybody involved in this debate recognises the importance of helping young people to achieve their full potential.

It was interesting to hear from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) about the focus on engineering and manufacturing, and what happens when there is a disconnect between what young children can learn in their local environment and the needs of businesses. Indeed, that is a big focus of this Government: to try to bring those things together and to make sure we talk about things such as T-levels, which many hon. Members talked about. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton (Chris Clarkson) said that, I think, seven T-levels are coming to his area via Hopwood Hall College, while my hon. Friend the Member for St Austell and Newquay (Steve Double) and others talked about the importance of T-levels and what that minimum of nine weeks’ work experience brings.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey) is a real inspirational role model to us all, through If Chloe Can and the support that she has given schools through her charity for a decade. As the previous Member for Wirral West, she was also part of my careers journey, because I shadowed her for many a week.

A number of Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie) and for Barrow and Furness (Simon Fell), mentioned the importance of extending careers opportunities to younger children—the year 7s—which is also very important. My hon. Friends the Members for Montgomeryshire (Craig Williams) and for Ynys Môn—maybe it is something in the water—mentioned the random nature of their careers and their journeys, and the people who helped them along their way. I think it is fair to say that all of us remember the people who help us on our way. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn is still grateful that I helped her on her way into this place, because it can be a tough career at times, although I am sure the people of Ynys Môn are very grateful for her sacrifice.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart) talked about the importance of lowering the barriers for young people, which is what those interventions can achieve. “You can do it. Reach for the top. Don’t put those barriers in your way”—somebody needs to tell them that and give them permission to dream. That often happens in one of those interventions, and it is vital.

My hon. Friends the Members for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici) focused on the investment in their areas, all the things happening there, the skills and opportunities that that will bring, and how important it is to align them and bring them all together.

High-quality careers advice is absolutely vital to help young people to prepare for their future. This Bill will play a key part in levelling up opportunity, ensuring that high-quality careers advice is available for all. Disadvantaged young people will gain most, as they face the greatest barriers. They have fewer role models and networks—they probably think networks are something to do with their PCs. This Bill will make a difference, with more opportunities for pupils to meet more employers from an earlier age and to be inspired about the world of work, including about jobs in emerging sectors, such as green jobs.

I thank all hon. Members for their contributions to this debate, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Workington, who has given us all the opportunity to come here today, to talk about this issue and to make a difference. I very much look forward to visiting the outstanding Lakes College and the Cumbria Careers Hub, ideally with the Careers and Enterprise Company, in the very near future, because I know that he has been inspired by a lot of the work being done there. We want to go further and faster, and ensure that every young child across the country has the best opportunity to get the best careers advice to help them on their journey in life.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).

Consideration of Bill, not amended in the Public Bill Committee
Clause 1
Extension of duty to provide careers guidance in schools
09:36
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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I beg to move amendment

1, page 1, after subsection (4) insert—

“(4A) In subsection (4)(c), omit “the person giving it considers”.”

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 2, page 1, leave out subsection (5).

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me put the amendment in context, for colleagues who have not looked at the text of section 42A of the Education Act 1997. Under section 42A(4)(c), the Act states:

“The responsible authorities must secure that careers guidance provided under subsection (1)…is guidance that the person giving it considers will promote the best interests of the pupils to whom it is given.”

In other words, the test is a subjective one on the part of the provider, rather than an objective test. My amendment would remove the words

“the person giving it considers

thereby making it an objective test for the responsible authorities when securing the careers guidance required by the Act.

The context of the amendment is very much about quality. I was delighted that in the debate that took place in Westminster Hall on Tuesday there was much emphasis on quality in careers guidance, and a lot of reference to what the Gatsby rules set out. Let me briefly tell the House about some of the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey), who introduced that debate. She said how important it is that children know what they want to do when they leave school, but that they will not be able to do that if they are not told about all the career opportunities available to them, the qualifications they will need, and the different educational paths they can take.

For example, when my daughter was at school she aspired to become a member of the veterinary profession, and I am proud to say that that is what she is. However, it was difficult because her teachers said, “Well, I’m not sure you’re going to be suitable for science A-levels”, and obviously without them she would never have been able to get the qualifications to go to veterinary school and attain the qualification that she has. The good advice she got from a teacher at the school meant that she could embark on science A-levels. That is a personal example from my own experience of the importance of quality. I do not doubt that some people at the school would have taken the view that the best thing was for her not to do science A-levels, but on any objective assessment it was the right decision. I therefore agree absolutely with my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton.

My right hon. Friend went to say:

“The latest report from the Centre for Social Justice says that there is a growing need for tailored, innovative and inspiring career guidance with links to role models and employers.”—[Official Report, 11 January 2022; Vol. 706, c. 211WH.]

I think everybody agrees that that is so, but it is a concern that there is no single place where a young person can get comprehensive Government-backed careers information. The Centre for Social Justice also found that schools are not consistently delivering good quality careers advice. About one in five schools does not meet any of the eight Gatsby benchmarks, a series of internationally respected benchmarks that help the Government to quality assure careers advice in schools. That is very serious.

Everybody seems to agree that the Gatsby benchmarks should be the standard, yet we know that only one in five schools meet any of them. The question I want to pose, in moving the amendment, is this: what are the Government doing to ensure that we get not just careers guidance, but good quality careers guidance? I remind the House of the eight Gatsby benchmarks of good careers guidance: a stable careers programme; learning from career and labour market information; addressing the needs of each pupil; linking curriculum learning to careers; encounters with employers and employees; experiences of work places; encounters with further and higher education; and personal guidance. The fact that so many schools do not even comply with any of them should raise significant alarm bells. That is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton, in concluding her remarks in the Westminster Hall debate, said:

“How do the Government plan to ensure that careers guidance is of a high quality for all pupils, irrespective of where they come from?”—[Official Report, 11 January 2022; Vol. 706, c. 212WH.]

That is the issue.

I am delighted to see the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart), who was not able to attend the Westminster Hall debate, on the Front Bench. In welcoming him to the debate, may I say how much I appreciate his decision to give Ferndown Upper School in my constituency a significant capital grant for its T-levels programme, which was announced just before Christmas? That is much appreciated. Ferndown Upper School has made enormous progress over recent years under excellent leadership and has expanded its numbers accordingly. If we were able to see an equivalent increase in the quality of careers guidance in schools across the country, we would all be absolutely delighted.

Let me turn to the response to the Westminster Hall debate from the Minister for Higher and Further Education. She said:

“The foundation of making that a reality is careers guidance in our secondary schools.”

She went on to say:

“That is why we are strengthening the legal framework so that every secondary pupil is guaranteed access to high-quality, independent careers guidance. Careers guidance, in itself, is not the panacea; the quality is absolutely crucial.”—[Official Report, 11 January 2022; Vol. 706, c. 224WH.]

How will we ensure that we have that quality, which we are told will increasingly be assessed by Ofsted, if it is going to be constrained? If Ofsted goes to a school and says, “Your provision is not of sufficiently good quality”, the school will be able to say, “Under the guidance—under the existing legislation—we think, or the person giving the advice thinks, that that is the right advice to be given for this child,” and there is no objective test. If the provider thinks that what it has done is correct, there is no possible way of criticising that or exercising any sanctions against it. That is why removing these words is of absolute importance if the Government want to deliver much better quality careers guidance in our schools. That is a small but important point, and I hope that we will get a constructive response from the Minister. If there is resistance to accepting the amendment in this place, perhaps it can be considered in the other place. However, we need to have more than just words about the importance of good quality; we need to ensure that the legislation facilitates it.

09:45
Amendment 2 is more of a probing amendment. It would remove subsection (5), which removes the application of the 1997 Act for provisions
“in relation to pupils over compulsory school age”.
As hon. Members know, compulsory school age is up to 16. If the Bill goes through as it stands, there will be no duty on schools with a sixth form, for example, to continue to provide careers guidance. I do not understand why, because although it could be said that careers guidance is important to enable pupils to decide their A-level options, even when they are taking those options and preparing to apply for higher education, they still need or would benefit from careers guidance. They may be doing, say, history or English at A-level, which will open up massive fields of opportunity in higher education and careers, but surely people who are taking those subjects, which are not obviously designed to enable them to go on a specific professional path, could benefit from getting proper guidance in school.
Why does the Minister think that schools with a sixth form should not be required to continue to provide careers guidance for pupils who are over 16? I am sure there must be a really good explanation—as there always must be if the Government have put forward a proposal to the House—and I look forward to receiving it from him. If he wants to intervene at this stage, I am very happy for him so to do, but perhaps he will hold his thunder until later.
The amendments do not need to be introduced at enormous length. However, the Bill has cometh before the House and this is an opportunity for us to explore these two aspects of it in more depth and with more focus.
Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson (Workington) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) for his interest in this important Bill and for focusing the debate on the importance of good-quality careers guidance. I note that he took interest in the Westminster Hall debate held by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey), as I did, and I was happy to see so many in that debate refer to this Bill. He and I are on the same page on the importance of good-quality careers guidance, but I hope to assuage some of his concerns. His points about consistency are exactly what this Bill seeks to address, in extending the statutory requirement to provide careers advice to all state-funded schools and across the entirety of secondary education. His other point was about the single point of careers guidance. I am not convinced that that is the answer. Although it might help with consistency, it may also bake in consistently bad advice from a single source.

On amendment 1, I take my hon. Friend’s point about removing subjectivity, but of course the idea of good careers advice is that it is subjective and depends on many things, which the Gatsby benchmarks address, such as local labour market provisions. He will be pleased to know that section 45A of the Education Act 1997 makes it incumbent on schools to “have regard to” statutory guidance. The statutory careers guidance, which continues to be updated by the Minister’s Department, imparts the need to adhere to the Gatsby benchmarks. On his personal experience of his daughter’s careers advice, let me say that that does include addressing the needs of each pupil. The Bill, in extending the duty and putting all state-funded schools on the same footing, gives Ofsted the teeth it needs to apply that statutory guidance and the Gatsby benchmarks to a level playing field, across the board.

On amendment 2, I think there is a slight misunderstanding as to what clause 1(5) does, which is to disapply the need to offer advice on 16 to 18 options to those over 16, for obvious reasons. The statutory careers guidance to which all schools need to have regard does include the provision of careers guidance at 16 to 18, and that will remain. This provision disapplies the need to talk about 16 to 18 options once people get past 16, for fairly obvious reasons. The Minister may wish to address some of the points in more detail, but I hope that I have been able to assuage some of the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch. I hope that he will not force the House to decide on his amendments.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
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Let us start by congratulating the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on reaching this stage with his Bill. I fully anticipate that he will ultimately achieve his aim of aligning academy provision with current state-maintained provision in the sphere of careers guidance, and I am pleased to give Labour’s backing for this small but important Bill. Careers guidance is an important component of any serious social mobility strategy. For many people, and certainly for people in my family and other young people I have spoken to in Chesterfield, careers guidance and work experience are often the first time that young people really get a chance to put their head up and start looking into the future.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Is the hon. Gentleman making a Third Reading speech or speaking to the amendments?

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Perkins
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Am I going to get two different opportunities?

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Perkins
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Okay, so I will just speak to the amendments. That will speed us up nicely. None the less, I thought it was important to give some background to that point. Let me turn to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I suspect it would not be a sitting Friday if we did not hear the view from Christchurch. I have often wondered whether a sitting Friday when we did not hear what the residents of Christchurch thought would be followed by a Saturday at all. Today, we have heard their views on careers guidance.

The hon. Gentleman made a number of significant points, and I have good news for him. We in the Labour party share his fear about quality, breadth and objectivity when it comes to understanding whether provision is of a high standard. I think his proposed amendment is not necessarily the way to address that, but several of the Labour amendments to the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill are. Quality and breadth of provision are important so that young people have the opportunity to consider a broad range of alternatives, and some careers guidance may be of a high standard but lack breadth. Our amendments to the Skills Bill—they have been supported by Lord Baker and others, and I hope they will return from the other place—will give the hon. Member for Workington the opportunity to get the assurances he seeks about quality and breadth. I look forward to speaking to the Bill further.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. If Members wish to speak, it would be helpful if they stood when the Member who is speaking sits down. I am just trying to put some names down.

Julie Marson Portrait Julie Marson (Hertford and Stortford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you for calling me so early in this debate, Mr Speaker. It is a pleasure to speak in it, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing this Bill before the House.

I want to give a little bit of perspective from my own background. In my maiden speech, I referred to my family background as moving from workhouse to Westminster. My great grandmother was born in a workhouse in the east end of London. She was a foundling and she met my great grandfather in the Foundling Hospital, so they had very modest beginnings. The emphasis in the Foundling Hospital was not on a choice of careers but on set career paths. All the boys who were put into the Foundling Hospital were trained to become Army bandsmen, and all the girls were trained to become maternity nurses—midwives. They did not have a choice in that.

My great grandparents went on to have great careers, in the Army and as a midwife. They met each other in the hospital, and it absolutely changed their lives. They had rewarding careers and their own family, and—workhouse to Westminster—I managed to get here, for some reason. I think that shows the fundamental need for a career and a job to make our lives what we want them to be. That opportunity, which is fundamental to levelling up and everything that we stand for—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I want to be helpful, but Members should be speaking to amendments to the Bill and not making Third Reading speeches. I think, unfortunately, you are making one of those, which I would love to hear later rather than now. If you can speak to the amendments and what we are dealing with, that would be helpful to the Chair.

Julie Marson Portrait Julie Marson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your guidance. On the amendment, I echo what my hon. Friend the Member for Workington said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I think that the Bill, as it stands, answers the questions that it seeks to address, so I support it as it is presented today. But I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch—I like to relate things to personal experience, and I think his daughter’s experience is very telling. It shows us about the cart and the horse. If someone has a vision for the future, they need to know the pathway to get there, so it is important that they have advice at an early stage. I absolutely take what he says, but I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington has answered that question.

10:00
Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson (Heywood and Middleton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not speak at great length about the amendments, only to say that every time my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) speaks, I always think that I went to the right university, because like him I am a graduate of Queen’s College, St Andrews, now Dundee University. I was interested in the way that he rationalised the idea of moving to an objective test. He will know that that relies on the man on the Clapham omnibus being the benchmark as the unified standard of quality, shall we say. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) eloquently made the point that that could end up baking in that quality.

I can speak only to my own experience. I was dead set throughout most of my A-levels on being a doctor. I have no scientific aptitude, but I convinced myself that that was what I was going to do—

Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do apologise, Mr Speaker. We are doing so well today. I have suddenly got louder—that is good.

It took a tutor who recognised that that might not have been my best skillset to point me in the right direction, and I am very glad that she did when she did. It led to a fulfilling career, with one slight blip when I was elected in 2019. I will not support the amendment if it is pressed to a vote, but I have a great deal of sympathy with my hon. Friend’s intentions.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. You are all going to have to stand if you want to speak, because I am having to guess here. If people do not want to speak, can they let their Whip know and at least then I know what I am working to?

Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes (Clwyd South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing his Bill to this stage, and my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) on his amendments. I have some sympathy with what the latter said about his first amendment. My own daughter is at university at the moment and she has found the mentoring skills offered by industrialists to be extremely helpful. I agree with the spirit of the amendment but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington said, the Bill is well established and structured, and is sufficient as it stands.

On the second amendment, I have made recent visits in my constituency to Ysgol y Grango in Rhos and Ysgol Rhiwabon, and I have seen how keen students are there to discuss their future career prospects. The more that we can satisfy that thirst for knowledge, the better, especially by bringing professionals into schools to provide their experience.

I respect very much the spirit of the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, but I feel that the Bill is sufficient as currently constituted, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington said.

Katherine Fletcher Portrait Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have made newbie mistake No. 1,273 procedurally, so I am happy to accept the Bill as it stands and I look forward to speaking on Third Reading.

Shaun Bailey Portrait Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wish to touch briefly on the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope).

I had not intended to speak in today’s debate because I am confident that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) will get his Bill through. My main comment is about ensuring that there are no unintended consequences. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch is right in seeking, through his amendments, to ensure consistency throughout the piece and the quality of the advice that young people get. I am slightly concerned, though, because we do not want to create arbitrary methods that do not take into account local social and economic needs. As I said on Second Reading in interventions on my hon. Friend the Member for Workington and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Esther McVey), sometimes the careers advice provided does not necessarily fall within a strict framework in respect of the needs of the individual.

The amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch are intended to ensure clarity and consistency. He gave the moving example of his daughter and how careers advice can have an impact; it is important to make sure we do not allow ambition to be stifled in any way. It is also important that his amendments do not have any unintended consequences. My hon. Friend’s intention in respect of both amendments is clear, but the issue is what the operational delivery will look like.

I was reassured by the response of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington to the amendments: he explained what his Bill seeks to do and how he has worked to address the concerns expressed. That being said, as the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins) said, it would not be a sitting Friday without the wise words of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch. I very much endorse the intent behind his amendments, but they might be somewhat wanting in respect of delivery, so I am reluctant to support them.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for long championing all things education and for standing up for children. I have seen him, not just in respect of this Bill but on many other occasions, be a lone voice for children and for opportunities in education.

I appreciate the issues raised by the amendments. I agree that we need further scrutiny in that respect and to look into how we can help to give tailored support to everyone in need. In particular, clause 1, which extends the careers duty to all pupils to secure education in all types of state-funded provision—particularly alternative provision—is excellent, but the amendment talks about giving advice to all from one set point and I have an issue with that. We could look at further ways to dig down into a bespoke way of targeting, perhaps through a funding settlement agreement that provides a funding incentive for those providers that are able to get students into an apprenticeship successfully. The school could get an economic settlement for that in the same way as applies when students are able to get into university at sixth-form level.

From my previous work, I have found that alternative provision is often overlooked—it is often the way in which schools shunt off students who are more challenging and they are not then given the support that they need. When I worked in disadvantaged areas and with schools with low skills, my concern was that children were being taken out of the main school, put into alternative provision and then left at 16 with no qualifications, no help, no skills and no guidance. I appreciate the fact that the Bill and the amendments are trying to target that inequality.

The nuanced issues raised by the amendments are great but I would go even further. Clause 1(3), which extends the duty to secure careers guidance to academies and alternative provision, is welcome, but I would like to see a way of incentivising schools to pursue apprenticeships and to stress that they should. Many schools do not pursue apprenticeships because it takes a lot of time to liaise with the businesses and with the educational provider. Schools need an extra financial settlement or incentive to do it correctly, so we should look at how to move that forward. I know we are not allowed to discuss that in a debate on a private Member’s Bill, but I wanted to put that out there as we are discussing the amendment.

This is a nuanced issue. If things are done correctly, the Bill could help the levelling-up agenda throughout the UK. This is where children are falling through the cracks. They are being put through their paces until they are 16 and then left. They are not being diagnosed with learning difficulties and they are not being given careers advice, which would help the most disadvantaged access the career choices that they need.

I love that the amendments and the Bill are looking at how we target young people—people younger than 16 to 18. Young people from a disadvantaged background who have no family member in a job or career need to be told which A-levels to study. They need to be told that they need a triple science if they want to do something science related. If a young person does not come from that background, they have no idea that that is something they should be doing. This is a way to give that information to every child from every background. The immigrant child might be the only member of the family who speaks English as their first language. They are trying to navigate the British system and this kind of careers advice can give them the levelling-up advantage that they need.

I welcome the Bill and think that we can look further at these amendments to find a way to make the Bill as sharp and crisp as we possibly can.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If there are no other speakers, I will call the Minister.

Alex Burghart Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Alex Burghart)
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You are very kind, Mr Speaker, and it is lovely to be here with you this Friday morning.

What a very interesting debate we have had on the amendments of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), even if some of our colleagues have been so anxious to get onto Third Reading. I can understand why, but we do have a couple of very important amendments to discuss.

I must declare a small amount of interest: I grew up very close to my hon. Friend’s constituency. Many is the time that I have cycled past Ferndown Upper. I am delighted to hear that it is joining us on the T-level journey, which will help transform the lives of so many young people who want to have excellent vocational training as well as qualifications that have been designed with employers. They want to get that really serious long-term experience on the job while they are still at school or in college, knowing that they are getting the skills that the economy needs. I am absolutely delighted that Ferndown is part of that journey.

I often think of my hon. Friend when I am reading the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is one of my favourite early medieval texts. As you will know well, Mr Speaker, after King Alfred the Great died, his nephew, a nobleman, tried to seize the throne. He did so by starting at Tweoxneam, which is the archaic name for Christchurch. Whenever I think of that noble rebel of old, my mind sometimes flits to my noble friend from Christchurch today.

The thrust of my hon. Friend’s amendments is extremely important, because it focuses on quality, and the quality of our careers advice and careers service that we intend to provide young people is paramount. This was something that was central to a debate on Tuesday in Westminster Hall, which, sadly, I was unable to attend. Those present got the Minister of State instead of the mere Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, so they benefited from my absence.

The work that we are doing in the Department for Education centres on this very important issue of quality, and there are a number of changes that we have introduced, and are introducing, on that score. One key thing the Secretary of State has done is commission Sir John Holman to undertake a review of careers advice in the round, not just for young people, but for adults and those furthest from the workplace. I met Sir John yesterday. His work is coming along extremely well. We are looking forward to getting the formal findings of his report in the summer. We are also seeing accelerated progress in schools and colleges of the enterprise adviser—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I think the Minister is almost in danger of doing his Third Reading speech. This is about the amendments—whether we do or do not support them and where we are going with them. I think Members would like to hear this speech in the Third Reading debate rather than now.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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Absolutely, Mr Speaker. The thrust of my hon. Friend’s amendments is about quality in the careers service, which is very much where I was trying to go in my remarks. I will speed ahead to the specifics, and perhaps we will come back to the general points on Third Reading.



Given the challenges that young people have faced throughout the pandemic, there has never been a more important time to help them plan for the future with confidence. That is why, as I say, we are focusing on quality. That said, the two amendments that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch has tabled, however well intentioned, are unnecessary.

10:15
Amendment 1 would amend the duty on the responsible authorities. We all agree that independent careers guidance must promote the best interests of the pupil, but this amendment seeks to take away the responsibility for determining the best interests of the pupil from the person who gives the careers guidance to pupils, and would instead place that responsibility on schools. I believe it is important that the person who gives the careers guidance determines the pupil’s best interest by applying their own judgment as to the suitability of the guidance for the pupils. In their role, they will be best placed to understand the needs of those pupils when delivering careers guidance. The key point is that schools must secure careers guidance that is independent of the school: if schools become responsible for determining whether the guidance is in the best interest of the pupils, that independence could be affected. In many cases, for example, the school will bring in a qualified careers adviser to deliver independent careers guidance to pupils. Careers advisers are specifically trained to act impartially and—crucially—in the best interests of the pupil, such as the daughter of my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch.
Turning to amendment 2, the Bill seeks to exempt 16 to 18-year-olds from the provision of guidance on options available for 16 to 18 education or training, including apprenticeships. That guidance is thought to be unnecessary, as 16 to 18-year-olds who are not in compulsory schooling will have already chosen their post-16 options. If we adopted this amendment, schools would be obliged to provide 16 to 18-year-olds with guidance on post-16 education or training options, which might simply waste their time and schools’ resources. In fact, that exemption—it must be noted—is already in force through the Careers Guidance in Schools Regulations 2013, so the Bill simply seeks to move what we have previously had in guidance into primary legislation: it is more of a tidying-up exercise. Other aspects of those regulations will not be needed, as the Bill will seek to make the duty apply to all secondary-age pupils.
I thank all Members on both sides of the House who have contributed today, and look forward to continuing the debate on Third Reading.
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I much appreciate the Minister’s comments, and his exemplification of the importance of Christchurch—of Tweoxneam—in the history of our country. I am glad that he is so well read in his subjects and knows the locality. I am sure that that had nothing to do with the decision to award this money to Ferndown Upper School, but nevertheless, it is very much appreciated.

I accept what the Minister says about amendment 2—it was very much a probing amendment. However, I invite him to reflect further on amendment 1, because at the moment the Bill says that

“The responsible authorities must secure that careers guidance provided under subsection (1)…is guidance that the person giving it considers will promote the best interests of the pupils to whom it is given.”

Surely, the school should be taking the responsibility for ensuring that the careers guidance that is provided promotes the best interests of pupils. The Minister did not really address the points that I was making about the number of schools that are not complying with any of the eight Gatsby guidance principles.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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My hon. Friend is right about the one in five schools, but allow me to turn that figure on its head: from a standing start really quite a short time ago, four in five schools are now complying with large numbers of the Gatsby benchmarks, and are improving. Our Ofsted regime will include adherence to those benchmarks in its handbook, and I remind my hon. Friend that as part of our post-covid work, all schools will be inspected by Ofsted between now and summer 2025. As far as we are concerned, this is a genuine accountability measure.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I appreciate that, but one in five schools is not complying with any of the eight Gatsby principles that I read out, so surely we need to take action sooner than on the timescale to which the Minister refers. That is not a matter for legislation—his Department needs to get a grip on it. If schools are not complying with the basic principles set out in Gatsby, why is that, and why are they not being held to account?

I return to amendment 1. If a school transfers responsibility for careers guidance that is in the best interests of pupils to a provider who gets it wrong, there is no way in which that school can be held to account for having chosen a duff provider. The school will always be able to say in defence, to an Ofsted inspector, for example, that the provider thought that it was working in the best interests of the pupil to whom guidance was being given.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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indicated dissent.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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The Minister shakes his head, but if the Bill retains the phrase

“the person giving it considers”,

surely we are accepting a subjective test rather than an objective one. I will give way again to the Minister.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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I was not seeking to intervene, but I am glad to take the opportunity. Ofsted would obviously hold the school accountable for procuring poor careers advice. I very much appreciate my hon. Friend’s point, but, to be clear, we take accountability for careers advice very seriously and we wish to drive up quality. We believe that it is in the best interests of the pupil to have independent careers guidance in schools where possible, from independent careers advisers who act, and are trained to act, in the best interests of pupils. I hope he will appreciate that we are working towards the aims that he sets out. It is a serious measure to have reference to Gatsby in the Ofsted handbook and a programme to inspect all schools against it, and I hope that no one will make light of that.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I much appreciate that full intervention to further clarify the Government’s intentions. In the end, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We will have to see whether we get the improved quality in careers guidance that everyone in the House wants and on which the Government and Opposition are united.

I thank the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins) for his comments. I do not always get compliments from the Opposition, but I much appreciate them and take them to heart, as indeed I do the support that I have received from my hon. Friends. They are waiting to deliver their Third Reading speeches, but they nevertheless had a good formula for commenting on the amendments, which was basically, “My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) has got it right and we do not need to comment any further.”

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington has worked hard on the Bill and it is great that he has given us an opportunity to raise these issues and focus on quality. He echoes what the Minister said about the amendments being unnecessary. I will not put the amendments to a vote, so let us hope that they prove to be unnecessary. We will have to see whether the good intentions materialise. For that reason, I once again express my appreciation to all hon. Members who have contributed to this short debate, and to the Minister in particular, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Third Reading

10:25
Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I am delighted to present the Bill to the House for its Third Reading. It heralds a sea change in how we prepare the next generation to meet the career challenges that lie ahead. It will serve to embed careers advice throughout the secondary phase of education through the provision of regular and ongoing support for students every step of the way. In short, it is designed to give our young people the best start and to maximise their opportunities.

I am delighted that, through the Bill, I will make a positive difference to the lives of young people in my Workington constituency and across England. As a father of four, it is an issue that is close to my heart. The changes that the Bill will help to bring about are important and overdue, and I have no doubt that its effects will be positive and far-reaching.

At present, the statutory duty to provide careers guidance falls on maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units but not academies. The Bill seeks to address that anomaly by placing the same requirement on all types of state-funded secondary schools, which will help to create a level playing field. I hope that that will encourage a culture where young people, regardless of social background, can advance through merit and hard work.

It is essential that the advice available to our young people is consistent, of the highest quality and accessible to everyone. As a blue-collar Conservative from a working-class community, I am a staunch believer in the value of meritocracy. The standard of careers guidance should not be a postcode lottery—we cannot leave the education of the next generation to chance—and must be based on a set of clear principles that are clearly focused on the best interests of children.

It is also important to develop a more joined-up system in which careers advisers, education providers and employers work together to share information and signpost young people to the opportunities available. I know how frightening it can be for a young person to make momentous and life-changing decisions about his or her future career, and that process becomes even more stressful if they are not in possession of the information that they need to make the choices that work for them.

In previous stages of the Bill, I joked that I am 39 and remain undecided about what I want to be when I grow up. At the end of the month, I will hit the big four-o and I am even less decided than I was. On a more serious note, it is easy for young people to find themselves on the wrong path or facing the wrong direction, and without the proper guidance, the risk of that happening becomes even greater.

That is why it is important to give our young people the best careers advice we can at the earliest opportunity. Such a crucial decision cannot be determined on the basis of an occasional meeting, but must be part of a long-term process that is continually reviewed in the light of changes in the labour market and the child, and of the developing aspirations of the young people themselves.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op)
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I very much welcome the hon. Member’s Bill and the speech that he is giving. Careers advice has come on a long way in the last 50 years. I am sure that we all remember the scene in “Kes” where my constituent, the former lord mayor of Leeds, Bernard Atha, played the careers teacher who gave Billy and all the boys and girls in the school exactly the same careers advice. Although that was a drama, it reflected what happened in the sort of communities that we represent.

The quality of careers guidance depends on the person giving it. We have NVQs at levels 4, 5, 6 and even 7 in higher education for careers guidance, so it is a profession in and of itself. It is not just an add-on or to be left to online quizzes, but that is what has happened to my child at school, so there is still a long way to go. We need to professionalise careers guidance and see it as something in and of itself, not just an add-on.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I think the hon. Member knows that an intervention is not meant to be a speech. You can speak—I will put you on the list—there is no problem there.

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that important point. I will talk later about funded bursaries and the training that is available for careers leaders, and will explain how the Minister’s Department is putting careers leader training at the forefront of careers advice. We cannot abandon our children to the whims of fortune without a map, a compass or a torch to light the way.

The Bill is particularly timely given the disruption and disorientation caused by covid-19. It is hardly surprising that young people are worried about their education and employment prospects in these unprecedented times. Uncertainty and change inevitably fuel anxiety, and covid-19 has forced many young people to reconsider their options and look again at their career paths.

As I said in my earlier speech, unexpected change and challenges are not necessarily bad. They can open new doors, and encourage us to be adaptable in our goals and innovative in our approaches. Difficult experiences can help us to see new opportunities that we may not have considered before, bringing out latent talents and teaching us new skills. However, the support structures and safety nets must be in place to help young people. It is incumbent upon us—indeed, it is our duty—to help our children to negotiate these obstacles and to encourage them when they lose their way, or, even worse, lose faith in themselves.

In my constituency, as in others across England, there are pockets of deprivation, unemployment and sometimes, I have to say, hopelessness. I am acutely aware of the stark disadvantages faced by so many young people. They have so much to contribute, but so often they are written off too soon. If we are serious about “levelling up”—if it is to be more than just a slogan or a soundbite—giving all children access to good-quality careers advice is one of the most important weapons in our fight against poverty and despair. We must leave no child behind.

Providing this enhanced careers education and guidance makes economic sense too, as it will contribute to a high-skills and high-productivity recovery. The Bill will help all young people to develop the skills and attributes that will enable them to succeed in the workplace, and in some cases it will nurture the community leaders of the future.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Perkins
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As the hon. Gentleman has already heard, we support the aims of his Bill. He has spoken of giving every child access to good-quality careers guidance. Does he agree that that must involve face-to-face conversations? It is not good enough to say, “Do it on the internet.” We need to ensure that every child can sit down with a careers professional.

Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support, and for making an important point that takes us back to the point made earlier by the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) about trained careers leaders. We must ensure that there is face-to-face careers guidance, rather than children being plonked in front of a computer to figure out their own paths.

The Bill extends careers advice down from the current year 8 to year 7 to ensure that children are given the information they need to make the best possible choices at the earliest juncture. The sooner we can provide children with careers options, the sooner we can address some of the gender, class and other work stereotypes that are already starting to bed in. The Bill also brings academies into line with local authority-controlled schools, ensuring that everyone has the same opportunity regardless of their postcode. As we know, some academies are not statutorily bound but are bound by their funding agreements, while others are subject to no requirements at all. The Bill gives Ofsted the tools that it needs to guarantee that our children benefit from first-rate careers advice throughout their school careers and across the country.

As a direct result of the Bill, approximately 650,000 year 7 pupils across England will become entitled to independent careers guidance, and we are bringing 2,700 academies into scope. The Bill puts into statute the Government’s commitment in the “Skills for jobs” White Paper for the UK's post-pandemic recovery. It builds on the important work that is already being done nationally to develop a coherent and well-established careers system—a sector in which Cumbria is a leading light.

As Members will know, the Government are already committed to the national roll-out of careers hubs, and have taken action to support the careers of young people through schemes such as kickstart. As I said earlier, the Careers & Enterprise Company is increasing young people’s exposure to the world of work, and helping schools and colleges to deliver world-class careers guidance for their students in line with the Gatsby benchmarks. The National Careers Service provides careers information, advice and guidance through a website and a telephone helpline. More than 3,300 business professionals are now working as enterprise advisers with schools and colleges, doing a lot of the face-to-face guidance that strengthens employer links with schools. The result is that 3.3 million young people are now having regular encounters with employers, up 70% in just two years.

Education providers, training providers and careers services in my Workington constituency continue to rise to the challenge in the face of often large socioeconomic challenges. The Cumbria careers hub was launched in January 2019 to deliver the Government’s careers strategy for Cumbria after the local enterprise partnership’s skills investment plan identified a significant challenge in developing skills in our county.

The process is accelerating, with 100% of schools in the hub matched with an enterprise adviser from a pool of senior business volunteers. It has been successfully replicated across the country, with 45% of secondary schools and colleges now in careers hubs. We are seeing rapid improvements in hubs, with disadvantaged areas among the best performers. The link between careers and career pathways is essential for developing and attracting talent to Cumbria, owing to the area’s declining working-age population, and their success is to be celebrated.

It is therefore critical that we nurture homegrown talent by giving young people the skills and confidence they need to make the most of the opportunities within a forward-looking global Britain, to help close the skills gaps in areas like Cumbria and to attract investment. It is simply not enough to nurture talent; we must also work to retain it and attract it. Furthermore, careers advice, in line with the Gatsby benchmarks, must be tailored to the jobs market in a local area, which is why conversations and relationships between employers, schools and careers advisers are so important. This Bill ensures that those channels of communication are built upon. The Bill helps to ensure young people are aware of the opportunities that lie on their doorstep, as well as those that exist further afield. Young people often tell us that one of the biggest barriers is not knowing what careers exist.

Simplifying the current system whereby careers duties are imposed on secondary schools by a combination of statutory provisions and contractual arrangements, while there are no requirements whatsoever on some of the older academies, is an important part of this Bill. The importance of extending the careers duty to all secondary pupils cannot be overstated. Extending the duty to all academies and alternative provision academies places the same requirements and standards on all types of state-funded schools, which puts all state-funded secondary pupils on a level footing and gives Ofsted the tools it needs.

We need to start setting out to children, as soon as possible, the options that will be available to them—not just sixth form and university but further education, apprenticeships, T-levels and other technical education qualifications. The earlier our young people start to consider these options and receive the appropriate guidance, the greater their chance of making the best possible choice.

University technical colleges—I have a fantastic one in my constituency—form an important part of the offer, but that could mean changing schools at 14. This option should not be put in front of a child at 13. It should be talked about from a much earlier age. Although it is important that young people are aware of their options, the last thing we want is for them to get to year 9 and feel like options are being imposed on them or, worse still, are non-existent, which is why flexibility must also be built into the guidance.

Engaging with employers from an early age can inspire young people and help them relate to the career opportunities to which their circumstances, abilities and interests are suited. The Bill recognises and makes use of the work already undertaken as part of the national careers system and, more importantly, it continues to raise young people’s aspirations through regular and meaningful engagement with employers and workplaces.

Having spoken in depth with education providers, parents and guardians, careers advisers, employers and, most importantly, young people themselves, I am more convinced than ever that this Bill will help to unlock the potential of generations to come. It is difficult to imagine a more worthy cause than to give our children the confidence and skills they need to be able to fulfil their dreams.

I am grateful to everyone who has worked on the Bill and helped to shape it. Their research, knowledge and observations have been invaluable and have created something that will serve our young people well. This Bill is about helping young people navigate through obstacles and avoid blind alleys, and it will prevent them from ending up in a career cul-de-sac.

We spend so much of our lives at work, so it is paramount that we give our young people the tools to find employment that is worth while and fulfilling. It is not simply about boosting the economy; it is also about wellbeing and helping to foster a culture of personal growth and aspiration from the starting line. More fundamentally, it is about creating a fairer system across our education system that allows everyone to realise their potential and make the best contribution possible to their communities, wherever they live and whatever their background.

10:39
Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Perkins
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I would like to repeat my congratulations to the hon. Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on reaching this stage with his Bill. I think it is a very valuable thing that he is doing with the private Member’s Bill allocation that he successfully won. I think he is absolutely right to express the importance of careers guidance, particularly in communities where opportunities are not necessarily plentiful and people need to have an opportunity to see different kinds of careers from those that their parents have enjoyed and that others in their school previously have enjoyed.

For all the reasons that the hon. Gentleman has outlined, we entirely agree that ensuring that every student, whether they be at an academy school or a state maintained school, can avail themselves of a minimum standard of careers guidance is a necessary provision. We know that many schools already have excellent provision and constructive, successful and transformational relationships with employers, but there is a real lack of consistency across the board, and anything that sets out to consolidate and improve that provision across schools should be welcomed.

I have to say that it would be impossible to debate careers provision as an MP who was elected in 2010—as I am—without stopping for a moment to lament the vandalism to careers education that took place under the 2010 to 2015 coalition Government. The Minister said that the Government had done well from a standing start, and goodness me, wasn’t it a standing start? The reality is that, between 2010 and 2015, the Government almost deliberately set out to set fire to careers provision such as it was. I think there were legitimate questions about the effectiveness of the Connexions service, but it was scrapped without any serious replacement and then Ministers celebrated—in preparing for this Bill, I looked back at some of the debates we were having in 2010—that the £200 million saved by shutting Connexions would prevent further cuts to the schools budget. It was really an extraordinary approach that, as I say, was an act of vandalism that left a whole generation of schoolchildren without careers provision. I am glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman that this idea is now utterly rejected.

Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey
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Just on the point of the 2010 changes, I was working in schools at that time and I would like to point out that there was an emphasis on apprenticeships and skills, and moving toward students for the first time being put into jobs. I organised apprenticeship fairs, and I worked with schools that for the first time were actually trying to help children in low educational attainment areas to find careers. I found that the challenge, while we were there promoting apprenticeships, was that the schools only wanted to send children to university. So I do believe that the 2010 shift was a positive shift towards apprenticeships and skills.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Order. Interventions should be quite short and a question.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Perkins
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The thing that the hon. Member sets out that is welcome is this shift—[Interruption] if she would listen to me—towards apprenticeships. I entirely support that, but I think that getting rid of professional careers advice and moving to a “let the schools decide” model actually did the opposite of that. I think it meant that the rather narrow environment that sometimes exists in schools became the very prevalent one, and I am going to reflect on that in more detail.



As I was saying, the Government’s approach was born of an idea that careers guidance could be provided by a child’s parents or their parent’s networks. Young Jonny could go and do a week in the City with his father’s firm. It bore no relation to the reality of what that meant to children whose parents did not have those networks. It was a move that kept children in their place, with work experience becoming voluntary or something additional for schools to do, rather than an integral part of supporting children to leave our schools ready for the world of work.

The Bill is narrow in scope, but it is an opportunity to discuss what the Government’s commitment to the nation’s young people and employers should be. As the hon. Member for Workington expressed, as is often the case, much of the Bill will end up being what is in the guidance, rather than what is on the face of the Bill. It is an opportunity for the Government to ensure that they put in place the mechanisms to make the rhetoric about quality and breadth a reality.

Labour believes very strongly that every child should be able to expect quality work experience that opens their horizons and is assessed not just on whether they are safe, but on whether it helps them to experience the wonderful world of work. That means much more than what many of us as parents have seen with our own children, which is a letter home from school saying, “Work experience fortnight is coming up. Go and sort it out and get the employer to fill out this form, so we can assure ourselves that no one is going to die while they are away from the school.” It is about much more than safety. Work experience should not just be “go to work with mum or dad week”, which is what it so often is around the country. The milkman’s son helps his dad on the milk round for a week, while my lad sits in my office upstairs helping an MP. All that happens is that children repeat the experiences they have been hearing about around the breakfast table for the previous 15 years.

I therefore welcome the fact that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) has sought to go further, announcing a bold offer that will be introduced by the next Labour Government. It will include the equivalent of two weeks’ worth of compulsory work experience to connect young people with local employers and build the skills needed for work, ensuring that every child has access to quality careers advice in their school by giving every school access to a professional careers adviser once a week.

One crucial point made earlier is that careers guidance is a profession. It is not an add-on to the deputy headteacher’s job, but a career in its own right that needs respecting. There are many fantastic teachers and school leaders, but often their horizons and experiences are narrow. Many people have been schoolchildren, university students, and then schoolteachers and school leaders. How is that an appropriate background to lead careers guidance? We need people with a breadth of understanding of the many different careers out there. How likely is someone with that kind of background to introduce children to the multitude of different opportunities and alternative paths that follow post-school?

The point the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Joy Morrissey) just made is very important. If the experience in many schools has only been going to school, university and then back to school, and if those schools feel that Ofsted wants to judge them on the number of people who go to university, then of course if we put school leaders in charge of careers guidance we should not be surprised if that guidance ends up being, “Get yourself into our sixth form and stay there; don’t look at apprenticeships or any of that.” I agree with her point.

In defending the abolition of professional careers guidance back in 2013, Lord Nash said in another place:

“That is why we gave responsibility for securing careers guidance to schools. They know their pupils best and can tailor provision to their individual needs.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 4 March 2013; Vol. 743, c. 1268.]

What happened was precisely what the hon. Member for Beaconsfield says. Some schools carried on providing a great service, but in many cases schools got as many pupils as possible into their sixth forms, perhaps because they wanted to stuff their sixth form with students or perhaps because they did not have the experience to know what other opportunities were out there. There was an idea prevalent at the time that it was all about university and that apprenticeships were a second-rate option. That is very much not the approach the Labour party takes.

What Lord Nash’s advice meant in practice was that for many children careers guidance and work experience all but disappeared. The legacy of that disastrous approach was that even before the pandemic almost 800,000 young people were NEET—not in education, employment or training. The Government now say—I am sure they are right, because I hear the same thing—that employers tell them that too many young people leave our academic institutions unready for the world of work. We welcome the fact that the hon. Member for Workington is attempting to work with Government to address some of those mistakes and the missed opportunities that previous Administrations have been responsible for. He has our full support, as do the Government. We think that the Bill is a useful first step in ensuring that we have adequate careers guidance for school-age pupils.

From the perspective of the Minister’s response to the amendments, we very much agree that the Bill is a standing start, but we think that the Government need to go further. As he knows, we proposed a number of amendments, and supported amendments from the other place, during the passage of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill that would have done precisely that.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth South (Stephen Morgan) said in the House earlier this week, according to Parentkind’s “Parent Voice Report 2021”, just half of parents believe that their school offers good careers advice. As has been mentioned, the CBI survey in 2019 said that 44% of employers felt that young people were leaving education not work-ready. It is vital that children and young people receive the highest quality of independent and impartial careers guidance, setting out the full array of opportunities available to them.

As many hon. Members will be aware, the Labour party recently supported the Baker clause during the passage of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, and, as that Bill returns from another place, we will continue to advocate for Ministers to adopt such a rigorous approach to careers guidance to ensure that young people have the opportunity to access it from a range of sources. It is a real shame that the Government removed the Baker clause in another place and in Committee in this House, because it has real value.

All too often, an academic route has been the default option put forward to pupils. Of course, that is a worthwhile endeavour for those seeking to undertake further academic qualifications. We in the Opposition salute and celebrate our universities as a huge national strength and asset, but it is crucial that vocational opportunities are available for all, not just those who do not go to university. They should be seen not as a secondary option for those who choose not to go to university, but as something for A-grade students to consider, too.

It is important that all students are aware of the full range of options open to them. That is why we think there is real merit in ensuring that a range of organisations and institutions get the opportunity to go into schools and engage with pupils throughout their school journey, and that Ofsted rigorously investigates the careers provision at school and ensures that all pupils are aware of the range of options that might be suitable for them. It has been suggested that no school that has poor careers provision should get an “Outstanding” from Ofsted, and that that idea has real merit. If a school’s careers provision is poor, how can its overall education be seen as outstanding?

In my Front-Bench role, I regularly meet and visit companies across all sectors of our economy that have incredible apprenticeship programmes for young people. Too many young people, however, have no idea what an apprenticeship is or any belief that they would be able to access one, and have no idea how they can progress through a technical route. We believe that apprenticeships should be the gold standard for vocational and technical education. We are exploring ways to extend apprenticeship opportunities, particularly among those aged under 25.

We very much welcome the Bill’s central purpose— to ensure that academy provision is held to the same expectations as state-funded schools—but it will be interesting to hear what the Minister has to say about what that means for the freedoms that academies enjoy. Those of us who were here in 2010 can still remember the messianic zeal with which the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove) extolled the freedoms that schools that converted to academy status would enjoy.

Labour’s approach at the last general election was to say not that all academies should convert back into being under local authority control, but that parental expectations and accountability should be the same whether the children are educated in an academy or in a state-maintained school. The Bill seeks, in the sphere of careers guidance, to impose exactly that kind of responsibility on academies, and we welcome that. That is a departure from the approach the Government have taken previously with the majority of schools that were moving to academy status.

It would be good to hear from the Minister about where the balance now lies between Government-imposed expectations on academies, and the freedoms that academies can expect to enjoy. We rather prefer that sort of approach, but it is a departure from what the Government have previously said about academies. It would be good to hear a little from the Government about whether that signals a wider change of approach on the balance between freedoms and guidance.

In conclusion, the Bill is a welcome first step, but it by no means resolves the damage done over the past decade of Tory failures and inaction on careers guidance. I am happy to say that Labour believes the Government’s position is now better than it was in the past. We will continue to push them to go further, but we think there are steps in the right direction for careers guidance. I hope that in the spirit of cross-party co-operation, Conservative Members will look favourably on Labour’s amendment to the Bill in the coming weeks, as it enters Report and Third Reading and comes back from another place.

10:56
Jo Gideon Portrait Jo Gideon (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Con)
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I was fortunate to speak in the Westminster Hall debate earlier in the week, and given the time constraints I will confine my comments to an area of careers guidance that I think has not been covered, and will not be covered by other Members. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on introducing this important Bill.

We must recognise that during their lifetime most, if not all, young people will experience a period of self-employment, either running a business or contracting out their services. That trend is even more pronounced since the pandemic, with the number of new businesses started in the UK increasing by 14% in the first year of the pandemic. However, the skill set needed for self-employment and entrepreneurship is not taught in most schools. It is estimated that one in four Brits operate at least one side business alongside their day job, contributing an estimated £72 billion to the UK economy, and highlighting the importance of equipping young people with the skills they need to take the leap.

The journey starts in school, and research from the National Association of School and University Entrepreneurs has found that 73% of young entrepreneurs agree that the skills required to start and run a business can be taught. Many are in favour of teaching entrepreneurship in schools as an integral part of every college course that leads to a qualification that is preparation for self-employment, whether that is a course in hairdressing, catering or plumbing.

We must also more closely align our school core curriculum with the realities of the modern world of work. Robots, artificial intelligence, and automation are no longer reserved for science fiction movies, and they represent a fundamental shift in the skills our workforce need to improve productivity and compete in the modern globalised world. For example, research from McKinsey shows that 51% of job activities are highly susceptible to automation. We must increase our focus on what we are doing to prepare future generations to thrive in that changing landscape. Young people must be prepared with creative, collaborative and digital problem-solving skills for the future. The Government are right to recognise computer science as part of the core curriculum, but we must invest more to improve uptake and recruit teachers with the required skills. That is just one step we need to take to ensure that our schools teach the right curriculum for the future and not the past.

The two biggest employers in my constituency are the NHS—Stoke-on-Trent has a teaching hospital—and Bet365. One might not think that they have much in common as employers, but the NHS and the world’s largest online betting company are both dependant on digital platforms. The city council is right to have launched a prospectus called Silicon Stoke, which illustrates our understanding of and aspiration to harness digital innovation as a key driver for our economic success as a city. Schools have a duty to understand the way the world of work is heading. It is absolutely right that we have independent advice and guidance. I fully support all the intentions of the Bill, and I do believe it is absolutely necessary. On Tuesday, people reflected on their own experience of careers guidance, so I would like to share mine. I went to a state grammar school, where they just said, “You’re okay, you can go to university.” So I did not actually think about what I was going to be. It has taken me 65 years to achieve my full potential, so I am glad to be standing here today supporting this Bill.

11:00
James Sunderland Portrait James Sunderland (Bracknell) (Con)
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It is a great privilege to be called so early in this debate, Madam Deputy Speaker. Let me start by commending my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for this excellent Bill. I am a huge fan of careers advice in schools. He has done some great work since he has been in Parliament and this Bill is absolutely the right thing to do, so my congratulations to him for getting it through today.

I was at school once, believe it or not, many years ago. I was in a very good school in Guildford. I was probably a lost cause for most of it, but one reason why I scraped through was that it had a careers office. It was fantastic because it was a warm office in the old part of the school, there were lots of leaflets and newspapers in there, and it was where the students and the kids used to hang out when they were hiding from the headteacher. The important thing is that it was led by a chap called Mr Richard Mant, who was a very inspirational teacher. At the age of 11 or 12, I was absolutely inspired by him, and by the leaflets and articles I read in that careers office, and I went through my school years with an idea and a vision of what I wanted to do when I left school. Children who are exposed to that at the right age, from year 7, in accordance with the Bill, are at a massive advantage, because it sows the seed of what they might want to do later in life. As Steve Jobs proved so ably, if someone has a vision, they then bend their entire focus, hard work and work ethic into achieving it. Children being exposed at an early age to the whole panoply of what they might want to do when they grow up is really important. They may wish to be an accountant, Army officer, lawyer, politician, apprentice or electrician. It does not matter what someone wants to do, because all work is vital and valuable, but instilling that vision from year 7 is absolutely the right thing to do, and I once again commend my hon. Friend for his Bill.

I know that time is short, but I wish to use my last minute or so to commend the education provision in my constituency, which is fantastic. I have had the privilege over the past two years of visiting most of the schools in the constituency, both primary and secondary. The figures are amazing: 23 of the 26 schools in my constituency are graded “good” or “outstanding”. The education offer in Bracknell is fantastic, which is testament not just to the excellent education department at Bracknell Forest Council, led by Gareth Barnard but to the fantastic teachers and headteachers we have in the constituency. There is not a bad apple among them, and the offer is absolutely brilliant. Do I think this Bill would work in Bracknell? Yes, I do, 100%. Most of the schools there already have careers provision and excellent careers staff, but instilling this in law and compelling teachers and schools to provide it in year 7 is a brilliant thing to do. Kids in Bracknell, who already are very blessed with superb education, will benefit from this and, we hope, will aspire to great things as they grow up.

11:03
Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) (Con)
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I know that time is short, so I will keep my comments brief. I wish to start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on introducing this important Bill, which is now before us in its remaining stages. Giving every child the best start in life is a guiding principle of this Government’s approach to education here in England. Every child needs to have access to equal opportunity, and a good education is part of the vital armoury in ensuring that, building the foundations they need—confidence, resilience and commitment—to thrive in adult life. As we have heard from many Members in the debate on this subject last autumn and today, education is not just about reading, writing and maths—academic training. Schools can help children to develop their social relationships, emotional skills, identity and all-round wellbeing. Academic or cognitive development is essential, but so, too, is careers guidance and support in order for a child to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them. We need an education system that not only focuses on academic or technical training but guides and supports children on their future career path. Good career guidance is a vital key to social mobility, and it is about showing young people, whatever their family or social backgrounds, the options open to them, helping them make the right choices for them and setting them on the path to a rewarding future.

I also want to highlight the need for more people from a variety of careers and a business background to come into our schools and talk to our young people about their careers. We might have to look at some kind of voluntary umbrella organisation in order to really encourage people to take that step. There is no doubt that careers advice and support is crucial, and the Bill will see that such advice is offered independently to all pupils from year 7 onwards.

I will not dwell on the intricacies of the Bill, but I highlight the fact that the Department for Education is supporting a range of measures to ensure that all students choose a career that is right for them, including the Baker clause, which stipulates that all schools and academies must publish a policy statement setting out opportunities for providers of technical education courses and apprenticeships to visit schools to talk to all pupils and to make sure that the policy is followed. The “Skills for Jobs” White Paper aims to improve compliance with the Baker clause through the introduction of a three-point plan, by creating minimum legal requirements and taking more action to enforce compliance. The White Paper, coupled with the Bill, could transform the way in which we provide careers advice and guidance to young people across England.

I am delighted that East Sussex College in Hastings was part of the successful Sussex-wide application under the skills accelerator programme for a joint local skills improvement plan and strategic development fund pilot. I have been listening in to some of the LSIP virtual meetings to go through the various areas, including manufacturing and engineering, and it is fascinating to see the research and evidence that they have built up.

The “Skills for Jobs” White Paper sets out the Government’s blueprint for reshaping the technical skills system to better support the needs of the local labour market and the wider economy, and the skills accelerator is a core part of delivering that. The Bill will go a long way in supporting students with the advice and guidance they need to make reasoned and timely decisions to help them into the world of work. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington for bringing forward his Bill, because this is such an important aspect of education.

11:07
Marco Longhi Portrait Marco Longhi (Dudley North) (Con)
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I was really delighted to learn that the Government agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) that parity is needed across all secondary and further education providers in giving our youngsters the best possible start in life.

My constituency has produced a lot of talent—many amazing people—over the centuries. In fact, it was the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Now, however, it has a much higher proportion of challenges, with young people not in education, permanently excluded and not in employment. But Dudley has the ability to find a way, and it is doing so. Even though in recent years the council has had some difficult challenges to overcome with its own education department, Dudley has resilience and an innovative way of getting round problems. I have mentioned before in the House the Priory Park boxing club, which has been helping kids who have been excluded from mainstream education. Too often, such children are written off by our society.

Much like the Government, Paul Gough, who runs the club, has said that enough is enough and change is needed—no more talking shops but action. With the support of the council leader, Councillor Patrick Harley, Paul has agreed to support a new school in Dudley in partnership with the club. They want to ensure that these young people get academic qualifications as well as increased strength, belief and confidence and, therefore, opportunities for the future in their lives. These youngsters will be able to pursue worthwhile careers; they will have a future.

A year ago, during Prime Minister’s questions, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agreed to visit the school when it was up and running, and I very much look forward to welcoming him to show him the incredible opportunities that the right kind of guidance and support can give to the next generations.

Would it not be great if one of the alumni of the new school, in some decades to come, were perhaps to become a Member of Parliament, or, indeed, a Dudley Prime Minister of this country?

11:10
Angela Richardson Portrait Angela Richardson (Guildford) (Con)
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I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for this amazing Bill. I was not able to speak on Second Reading because I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Education, but I was sitting on the Benches cheering him to the rafters from inside. I know how important the Bill is and how important education and guidance are for our young people.

From having visited schools in deprived parts of my constituency, I saw that people often moved to Guildford for its amazing education. I must acknowledge the wonderful schools that we have within both the mainstream and the independent sectors, but I have none the less visited schools where children’s aspirations are not as high as they should be. Even though we have the wonderful University of Surrey, the Surrey research park and wonderful links to those schools, children do not always see such education as a possibility for them. I speak from my own experience. Without careers guidance at school and universities coming in, I would never have gone to those sessions because I did not think that university was for me. Nobody had been to university in my family. My father worked in a family business, but we were told not to go into it because it was third generation and all the cousins would fall out with each other. When I was in the equivalent of the sixth form, my mother was actually at school with me, as an adult student, trying to get some qualifications, so that she could restart her career after being at home looking after children for a very long time.

I understand personally how important it is not only to get the right guidance at school but to overcome family obstacles, especially when it is perhaps not an option to look at going to university. I encourage my wonderful colleges in Guildford to have links with those schools, especially as we want technical qualifications and technical education to have parity of esteem with other education. Apprenticeships and skills are just as important for young people as university education. It is important that we do this for all secondary schools, and it is also important for me as a parent of three teenagers, one of whom is in special education because he is on the autism spectrum. It is important that he has not only a good education but a range of things that are available to him and that he is encouraged to do, so that he is trying not just to get through the education years and achieve the best qualifications that he can but to think constructively about the future and what he might be able to achieve in his life.

In the “Skills for jobs” White Paper, published in January 2021, the Government are trying to bring forward careers hubs, digital support, careers leader training and the enterprise adviser network to all secondary schools in England. This private Member’s Bill, as it will succeed on Third Reading, will be a huge part of the Government’s wider agenda for young people in our schools.

11:14
Gagan Mohindra Portrait Mr Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire) (Con)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) on bringing forward this Bill. As a former governor of a primary school, a chairman of governors of a further education college, and a governor at an autistic school, I have seen at first hand how important it is to ensure that children up and down this country understand the opportunities that they have. Part of our role as elected Members of this House is to make sure that children appreciate that they have opportunities that others around the world may not have. It is always a stark reminder when I am told that about 75% of women in the world are illiterate. For us, that should be a crying shame.

11:15
I was not able to attend my hon. Friend’s debate in September, but some of the statistics that he shared about careers advice were quite profound and, I think, encouraging:
“More than 3,300 business professionals from local businesses are working with schools and colleges as enterprise advisers to strengthen employer links. Almost 3.3 million young people are now having regular encounters with employers, which is up 70% in two years.”—[Official Report, 10 September 2021; Vol. 700, c. 562.]
My parents’ generation would have had a career for life—one job, one industry. The reality of technology and the global world we now live in means that children leaving school, university or technical college today are likely to have multiple different careers. Guidance from professional careers advisers is fundamentally important. It can give them the confidence to make those brave decisions. It can help them to understand the value of soft skills, such as wearing a tie or suit when they go for their first job interview, shining their shoes, turning up on time and being professional—skills that they may not necessarily have been accustomed to or shown in their home environment.
One thing that I am really proud of in South West Hertfordshire is the quality of education. I cannot claim credit for that, but I have some amazing schools and teachers. Irrespective of our local education provision, none of us can rest on our laurels. If we do not continue to strive forward, we will quickly be outpaced by other parts of the world that rightly put a focus on education. The competition for our students of today is not from neighbouring towns or cities; it is from global rivals, who are potentially also friends. We need to fully equip young people, students and loved ones, to be the global leaders of tomorrow. I am conscious of time and I know that some great colleagues want to speak in this debate, so I will leave it there.
Nicola Richards Portrait Nicola Richards (West Bromwich East) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to be called to speak on this important Bill, and I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for his immense efforts to secure its safe passage.

When I was at school and college, some of the best careers advice that I received was from my dad, and it is thanks to his wisdom and support that I found my way. He did not tell me what to do; it was quite the opposite. He told me I needed to set myself apart from everyone else my age going to university and graduating at the same time. I had absolutely no idea what that meant or how I was going to do it, but somehow I did.

I secured work experience when I was at college, first in a primary school and later with my local MP, and then I knew exactly what it was I wanted to do. I was lucky enough to get a job with that MP—the previous Member of Parliament for Dudley South, Chris Kelly—and that gave me such great experience when I was at university. It was essentially like doing a very expensive apprenticeship, where I paid out more than I earned.

Not everyone who has parents who can advise them about the industries that they are interested in, or the world of work in general. None of my family had anything to do with politics. In my constituency of West Bromwich East, I have seen some fantastic examples of careers advice at the forefront of a child’s progress in the education system, but access to high-quality careers advice from a young age is still something of a postcode lottery and varies greatly from school to school. Aside from implementing many of the proposals in the skills White Paper, this Bill will require secondary schools to start setting out as early as possible the future education, training and careers options that will be available to their students, in line with the Gatsby benchmarks of good career guidance, which apply from year 7 to year 13. I fully support that approach.

Last year, I co-chaired a report for the Skills Commission about the difficulties young people face when they attempt to navigate the careers maze, and we set out nine recommendations for achieving a longer-term career strategy in this country. I thank Policy Connect for the opportunity, and I thank my co-chairs Lord Jim Knight and Dr Siobhan Neary for their hard work. School is not just about achieving good academic results; it is also about crafting the people that we want to be, and inspiring young people. That is why last year, I hosted an online event with Ben Francis, founder and chief executive officer of Gymshark, to give young people from West Bromwich the opportunity to learn from a local lad from the west midlands who used his wages from Pizza Hut to develop what is now a unicorn, with its headquarters in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Saqib Bhatti).

To conclude, good careers advice is so important. We need it to allow young people to explore their strengths and options, and to give them opportunities to have work experience and support from their school in doing so. I am proud to support this Bill.

Julie Marson Portrait Julie Marson
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It is a pleasure to speak again in this debate. While I was slightly premature in mentioning some of my family history, it goes to show the importance of careers advice, which my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) described as a torch to light the way—a compass to help guide young people. That is very apposite, and I passionately believe it.

My careers advice slightly contrasted to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (James Sunderland): it was given by a very lovely lady, an elderly French teacher, who I do not think had done anything apart from teach her whole life, in what was formerly a cupboard in the school I attended and consisted mainly of leaflets—it was not a place to hide from the headmistress, either. However, we do it a lot better now, and I absolutely commend my hon. Friend the Member on for this Bill, which will make careers advice even better and—crucially—more consistent across the board, which I think is what we all want to do for young people across this country. I am very determined to do that in Bishop's Stortford, Hertford, Ware and Sawbridgeworth, because although we are blessed with fantastic schools and fantastic careers advice, we should never sit on our laurels. Heads in parts of my constituency, particularly in and around Bishop’s Stortford, have said how much they believe we should consider a further education college in Bishop’s Stortford. I am being slightly opportunistic in mentioning that with the Minister present: it is something that we will be looking to speak with him about in future.

I am also a big advocate for apprenticeships. My brother took a different path from me: he did an apprenticeship with a local engineering company, and has gone on to become a pilot in the United States. Both routes are absolutely valid, and both are so important to realising young people’s potential. To refer to comments made earlier, if a young person can think of a path early in life, or even know to keep their options open, that is good advice. It is also important to consider the soft skills that careers advice can help young people build. That can direct what A-levels they might do or whether they go for an apprenticeship. Learning soft skills can be incredibly valuable in determining where they go and what they do, and in giving them an all-round education.

I will not take up much further time, but I am grateful to speak in this debate. I am a big advocate of my hon. Friend’s Bill, and I commend him for it. It seeks to provide greater consistency and quality of careers guidance in all types of secondary schools. It champions alternative routes of education, and ultimately, I think it will help to improve the life chances of children across this country.

Chris Clarkson Portrait Chris Clarkson
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Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Julie Marson), I launched into my Third Reading speech a little prematurely—it was very good, but I do not want to spoil Members too much. What I will say is that I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for having introduced this Bill. What it is doing is so important: education is the silver bullet, the tip of the spear. As the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins), said, it is about aspiration; it is about social mobility; it is about opening up horizons and telling the next generation that what is expected of them is not necessarily what they have to do—that they have options and can look at different things. It is also about understanding that young people learn differently, and about getting in early on that in year 7, rather than asking them to make big life choices at that drop-dead point of A-levels: “Are you going to go into further education or are you going to go into something technical or vocational?” It is about giving them a broader perspective on things.

I have seen that work well in my Heywood and Middleton constituency. I am lucky to be served by Rochdale Sixth Form College and Hopwood Hall College for further education. It would be entirely remiss of me not to put on record my thanks to Julia Heap, the principal of Hopwood Hall, and Richard Ronksley, the principal of Rochdale Sixth Form, for their constructive working relationship and the way they identify students who may not be in the correct educational pathway and help them to move into a more appropriate area.

We have mentioned apprenticeships, so I, like everyone else, put on record my enthusiasm for them. I also mention the apprentice in my constituency office, William Lee, who is a great young man. I encourage anyone who is thinking about their future to look into an apprenticeship, because it is an incredibly good way to get ahead and learn about something new and exciting. With that, I will finish so that other hon. Members have time to speak.

Siobhan Baillie Portrait Siobhan Baillie (Stroud) (Con)
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I welcome the Bill and the opportunity to talk about careers advice generally. I applaud my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson), who has applied his energy and skills to try to genuinely transform the lives of children and young people, including those of Stroud.

Many people around the country will have had chequered experiences of careers advice in their lifetime. Unfortunately, unless children are lucky and in a fancy-pants school, where successful parents are paraded regularly to tell them about their jobs, they genuinely rely on their school, parents or people on their street to learn about opportunities, which is not a recipe for greatness, brilliance or options.

I remember that my careers advice was a short discussion in an art class about me becoming an air hostess. I made the wrong choice—it is a wonderful job and it would definitely have broadened my worldwide horizons, because I basically chained myself to a desk trying to become a lawyer for years. That narrow discussion meant that I did not have the guidance to make good choices at A-level and I did not go to university—it goes on. We will never know what would have happened if that discussion had been different. I might not be here; I might be doing something better.

It irks me that nobody—but nobody—told me that there was a job called cat scientist. I found that on the telly when I was watching a programme about people following cats around. I would have been a brilliant cat scientist—cats have been training me for that job for years—which just goes to show that we do not know all the opportunities until we get careers advice. I applaud what the Government are doing in backing the Bill.

Stroud has a growth hub in the college that brings employers, businesses and the local enterprise partnership right to our learners, which is exactly what the Government are trying to achieve with the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill. All MPs on both sides of the House can do more. When we go out to meet businesses, we should do those little clips to say, “This job is available,” or, “There’s this company that you could create.” I am trying to put together a programme called ambitions, where I do little interviews, which I will build up. Young people will probably not want to watch them, but they will be there as an option to provide more opportunities for learning.

The 2019 Augar review was clear that we need to put more money into careers advice and more opportunity. The Government are now listening. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) was absolutely right to focus on quality earlier and I was encouraged by his comments and the Minister’s response. Schools and parents have been desperate for these changes for years. I do not agree with the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins): the Labour Administration’s focus on getting 50% of children into university meant that, for years and years, they forgot about the 50% who were left over, which unfortunately meant that their opportunities and options were ignored.

Ministers have stepped up with the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill and in support of this Bill today. The Government have appointed Sir John Holman as the independent strategic adviser on careers guidance. Most importantly, the narrative of the country is completely changing for our children and young people, so that technical education, further education or getting a job straight after school is not a poor choice. All those things are available to us, in addition to university, so I welcome the Bill, which will do so much to achieve that.

11:29
Joy Morrissey Portrait Joy Morrissey
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I will follow on from the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Siobhan Baillie) on why these things matter. They matter so much for young people who do not come from a wealthy area or background or have wealthy parents who will not be taught in school how to enter a certain profession. In many schools in London and urban areas in particular, there is a complete lack of clarity about going into law, accounting, finance or any kind of professional degree. Time and time again, I saw how those in academies, those not in education, employment or training and those falling through the cracks who had been put into special education were not given any skills to navigate towards a career or any future at all. I watched talented, intelligent young people fall by the wayside, join gangs and disappear off the radar—often into prison—because no one had ever given them guidance saying, “Here’s what you need to do. Here are the steps that you can try to follow.” I welcome the Bill, because it addresses some of the inequalities that I saw again and again.

This memory will never leave me. I mentored a young woman, and I thought, “How hard will this be?” but I could not navigate the system through an academy for her. She was from an immigrant background, and none of her family had ever been to university, and the whole school failed her. Everyone in her programme apart from her left school at 16 with no qualifications. Many of them are now in gangs, but despite the odds she has persevered and she has succeeded.

I did everything in my power to try to help and assist her, and that experience made me realise that the system was broken. If somebody who does not come from the right background but has all this talent, skills and abilities cannot navigate the system, that system needs to change. I thank the Minister and the Government for addressing this issue and I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for bringing the Bill together and fighting in the House for children and those who have no voice.

11:31
Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes
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I will be brief, because I spoke to the amendments earlier. I feel strongly about the Bill and applaud my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for bringing it to its Third Reading. First, although I represent the Welsh constituency of Clwyd South and the Bill applies only to England, the Welsh Government can learn much from it. Secondly, my hon. Friend made a vital point about pockets of deprivation—that is very much the case in my constituency—and better careers guidance is extremely important for young people from those areas.

Thirdly, the point was made about 50% of children going to university—my two children are currently at university—and 50% not doing so. Careers guidance is of even more importance to those who do not go on to university, because those such as my children can delay career decisions while at university, but those going down a different route cannot.

My hon. Friend also mentioned enterprise advisers, of whom there are now 3,300, and the big increase that we have seen in them. I feel strongly about that. I have seen with my own children how mentors from business play a massively important part in giving them aspiration and ambition as to what they can achieve. It also works both ways, as, importantly, it binds enterprise, business and other communities with education.

One point not made perhaps as much as it should have been is about the particular importance of careers guidance as we come out of the pandemic, which has thrown the lives of young people into disarray; I have seen that with my own children. Careers guidance is therefore extremely important, particularly for the most disadvantaged. My hon. Friend also mentioned that people do not necessarily know what their careers will be, so careers advice is important in helping them come to that decision.

Finally, I am pleased that the Bill will not only extend current requirements but include children in year 7, which I gather means 650,000 extra pupils. Careers advice is extremely important in informing and affecting young people’s decisions about what they will go on to study. It gives me great pleasure to strongly support the Bill on its Third Reading.

11:35
Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart
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What a pleasure it has been to take part in this debate. We have had some medieval history from me, some family history from my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Julie Marson) and some personal and socialist history from Opposition Members—or the Opposition Member, I should say.

We all thank my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mark Jenkinson) for this excellent Bill, which will improve a lot of young people’s lives. That is what we are all here to do. The Government are fully committed to education and to careers education and guidance, which is an essential underpinning of our reforms. It has been clear at every stage that the Bill has cross-party support and co-operation, and I genuinely thank the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins) for his party’s support during the Bill’s progress.

We are at an important juncture for skills reform in this country, and I thank my hon. Friends for supporting the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which will soon return to the House on Report. The careers work we are pleased to be doing with my hon. Friend the Member for Workington underpins a lot of that Bill, and it is wonderful to hear my hon. Friends cite great examples from their constituencies for us to dwell on.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Joy Morrissey) made a powerful speech on what happens in alternative provision settings. These young people, on whom so much rests, have too often been forgotten. The most important piece of careers advice I ever heard was on a visit to an alternative provision setting in Wandsworth about 12 years ago. It was a fantastic setting in which the headteacher had created a number of studios for practical vocational education: a car mechanic’s workshop; a hairdressing salon; a cookery school; and a bricklaying studio. The headteacher said to the gentleman who taught bricklaying, “Will you tell our visitor what your last job was? This is what you tell all the pupils.” And the bricklayer said, “I was an armed robber. I earned £10,000 on my last job and now I earn nearly £30,000 a year working here.” That was an extraordinarily valuable and inspiring careers lesson for young people to hear in such a setting.

We want to make sure that young people in all settings, regardless of their background, have access to high-quality careers education, which is what our reforms will do. We want to level up opportunity, and the reforms set out in our skills for jobs White Paper will give a genuine choice between high-quality technical and academic routes. It is vital that everyone has access to careers guidance of the highest standards so that they are well informed on what will happen afterwards.

We cannot overstate the importance of careers advice, and I thank all hon. Members for their contributions at this and previous stages. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Workington again on bringing this Bill to the House.

11:38
Mark Jenkinson Portrait Mark Jenkinson
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With the leave of the House, I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to this debate and to the Bill’s previous stages. I will not take up any further time by naming them all, but I put on record my heartfelt gratitude to each of them.

I also thank the teachers and careers advisers who have taken the time to share with me their ideas for this important Bill. Their expertise and knowledge have been critical in helping to shape the Bill. Their input has been invaluable and has helped me to understand how we can better serve our young people, whether by raising their aspirations, providing direction or helping them to recognise their own talents. A better future is possible for our young people with improved access to the right support and guidance.

I also extend my thanks to the Minister, to his predecessor my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), to the Secretary of State for Education and his Department and to the Opposition Front-Bench team, particularly the hon. Members for Chesterfield (Mr Perkins) and for Hove (Peter Kyle), for their support throughout this process.

It was Benjamin Disraeli who said:

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

This Bill is true to the spirit of those words.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

First Reading
15:16
The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.
Second Reading
10:24
Moved by
Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas (Con)
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My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In doing so, I pay tribute to my honourable friend Mark Jenkinson, the MP for Workington, who had the sagacity to choose a Bill that the Government will support—not an easy thing, as various noble Lords have demonstrated—and which will make an important and solid improvement for all our children.

It is a very simple but effective Bill. Clause 1 amends the scope of Section 42A of the Education Act 1997, which puts a statutory duty on schools to secure independent careers guidance. The Bill extends careers provision to all pupils in state secondary education, bringing year 7 pupils into scope for the first time. It also extends the duty to all academy schools and alternative provision academies. Clause 2 revokes 2013 regulations that extended the careers guidance obligations to pupils aged 13 to 18. These are no longer needed as this Bill extends to all secondary-age pupils.

In practice, these clauses mean that all pupils in all types of state-funded secondary schools in England will be legally entitled to independent careers guidance throughout their secondary education. They show a determination to achieve guidance for every single child in every single state secondary school in every single local authority, without exception. The Bill will also establish consistency by applying the statutory careers duty to all types of state school, bringing approximately 2,700 academy schools and 130 alternative provision academies into scope.

By extending the lower age limit to year 7, the Bill also brings the careers duty into line with the Government’s careers framework for schools, the Gatsby benchmarks, which apply to years 7 to 13. This will enable the Government to meet a commitment they made in the Skills for Jobs White Paper and will reach over 600,000 year 7 pupils each year. It will also mean that we can give year 7 pupils early exposure to a range of local employers so that they gain experience of the workplace, ask questions and develop networks. They will begin to learn about the local labour market, which is important because skills needs around the country are very different.

Equally important—as my noble friend will no doubt expect me to say, given my performance on the skills Bill—is exposure to careers not available locally. That is important for both students and communities. As regards students, somewhere in Eastbourne, a town founded on hospitality, care and education, is a future nuclear engineer, and somewhere in Workington, a town founded on nuclear engineering, is a Michelin-starred chef. Those young people must not be denied the breadth of possibility which should be open to them. There are institutions in this country, such as Education and Employers and Founders4Schools, which exist to open those doors for pupils, and I really hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to commit to continued support for bringing a breadth of opportunity to young people, wherever they grow up.

It is also really important for communities. I was part of a committee of this House that looked at seaside towns, and it was clear that these towns had become narrow in the range of opportunities they offered, and that the self-belief in their ability to change had declined. Opening the eyes of children is an important part of that. Getting children to have a breadth of career aspirations then makes them available to new industries coming in, and having a breadth of industry and activity in a town makes it much more resilient to shocks such as Covid or whatever else may come our way.

Early careers guidance can support important decisions that need to be made from the age of 14—whether it is choosing between GCSE subjects or making the decision to change schools to attend a university technical college. We must ensure that our young people are well informed in their opinions.

If the Bill is passed, I count on the Government to make it easier for schools to understand the changes to the law and what action they need to take, and to encourage or require Ofsted to focus clearly and consistently on how every school is meeting its statutory duty by providing independent careers guidance to every pupil throughout their secondary education. I very much hope that this additional requirement on schools will be matched when it comes to deciding what their funding will be next year.

If I may add a request of my own to this estimable Bill, it is that the Government stay the course and build on what has been achieved over the last 10 years, thinking particularly of the Careers & Enterprise Company and the careers hubs they have created. It is terribly easy for a Government to think that they might do better than that and to start again from the beginning. In this sort of area, that is a really difficult and dangerous thing to do. It takes ages to build up relationships with schools and with businesses—the network of understanding, prestige and respect that makes this sort of thing work well.

The Careers & Enterprise Company has done an excellent job, though it does need help at this time. Changes elsewhere, particularly with local enterprise partnerships, mean we have to look again at how careers support in schools interfaces with employers nationally and locally. I know that the Government are doing some things in the skills Bill, but they need to connect better with what they have already achieved in the Institute for Apprenticeships in terms of relationships with employers and what the levelling-up department will doubtless be doing. We need something integrated—something that employers will respect and to which they will commit really good people, so that the information and expertise coming into the Government accurately reflect what the people at the top of business want, not just a box-ticking exercise from big companies.

It is always difficult to do these things—I understand why the Government like to rein in these creatures that they do not properly control and to make sure they are working with government and not against it. But it is much better if we can work—and build—on the achievements of the past, rather than throw them out. I beg to move.

10:32
Baroness Morris of Yardley Portrait Baroness Morris of Yardley (Lab)
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My Lords, I very much welcome this Bill, which is a very good use of a Private Member’s Bill, and I congratulate Mark Jenkinson on introducing it and for the work he did in the House of Commons. I also thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on how he introduced it. I want to broadly support it—there is absolutely nothing there with which I disagree—but it gives us the opportunity to discuss a few issues and that is what I want to do.

First, I probably ought to declare an interest. In my work with the Birmingham Education Partnership, we have a contract with the Careers & Enterprise Company. I wish that to be noted.

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, may be interested to know that in Birmingham, it is the school-led Birmingham Education Partnership that has the contract with the CEC, not the LEP. When he is looking at future ways of delivering, he may wish to reflect on that and I would be very happy to discuss it with him—and, indeed, the Minister—if that was appropriate.

I want to talk about two areas. First, part of the legislation includes academies—big congratulations to Mark Jenkinson on achieving that. I cannot remember how many times I have tried to include academies in other legislation. I was always told that it was not needed because it was part of the funding agreement. I see this not only as important in the light of the careers education Bill, but—as far as I can remember—it is the first time the Government have made the move and said yes, academies can be affected and influenced by the legislation as well. I have never quite understood why, if you are a child who goes to an academy, you should be denied something that Parliament thinks is good to teach children. This is a really good move and I welcome it.

The main point I wish to make concerns the substance of what might happen now that we have got careers education and guidance going into year 7, which is undoubtedly a good thing. This House has a good record of discussing careers education. We have discussed it in its own right and as part of legislation many times. I worry about the same thing every time we discuss it and that is what I want to address: we are at risk of seeing careers education as merely providing information and widening the horizons of young people. This is absolutely vital. You cannot decide to be something if you do not know it exists. The more you see it, the more you talk about it and the more you talk to people who do that job, the more likely you are to be motivated to try to achieve it. That is where our discussions tend to stop. With respect, the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, mentioned it and I do not disagree at all, but my own experience as a teacher and a person teaches me that it is not all that needs to happen if we are to achieve what we want to achieve.

Really, there are three parts and we ignore the last two. First, the children need the information. Secondly, they then need to make a decision that it might be for them—and that is so difficult. I look at my own life and there are lots of times when I have had the information, but I have not been able to work out the decision in a way that has been the right way forward. I taught children like that; it was not that they lacked the information, but they lacked the skills to align it to their strengths and weaknesses and then make the decision. The third part is that even if you make the decision that that is what you want to do, taking that first step to do it is really tough. How many times have we wanted to do something, known it is the right thing, but not known how or not been confident enough to take that first step along the road to achieving it? I think of children who do not have a lot of support at home and come from areas of significant deprivation: of course they need their horizons broadening. But it is at those next two steps where they often fall back. They have not got the skills, or they are not helped to make an effective decision, and when they do make the decision, they need someone by their side to give them the confidence to start the journey to try to achieve their dreams.

I am not for a minute saying that is not in the Bill, but I worry that when we talk about this aspect of education, we concentrate a lot on giving children the opportunity to see more people in jobs they may want to do and then leave them floundering because we do not help them with the skills to make the decision and the confidence to move forward.

On the whole, however, I again congratulate Mark Jenkinson and the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and I very much hope that this will become a part of our national curriculum.

10:37
Lord Shipley Portrait Lord Shipley (LD)
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My Lords, I agree entirely with everything the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, has said, particularly about one-to-one support for young people at the right time in the careers guidance they get. I welcome the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and I wish it swift progress.

I had the privilege of chairing the Select Committee on Youth Unemployment last year, which reported in November and to which the government response is due very shortly. We received substantial evidence on the need to extend and deepen careers guidance in schools to broaden young people’s horizons, reduce gender stereotypes and boost social mobility. The Bill fulfils a small part of what we recommended by extending the duty to provide independent careers guidance in schools to include year 7 pupils and to extend it to all academies. In those respects, it represents an important step forward.

We reported that there was a lack of knowledge of occupations among young people, plus a lack of knowledge of employment requirements and opportunities—of apprenticeships, traineeships and progression routes. The Baker clause that gives a range of providers access to speak to pupils about technical routes and apprenticeships has been patchily complied with by schools, although there are signs that this may be improving. It is vital that it does.

The committee—and we will have the opportunity to debate its report on the Floor of the House soon I hope—concluded that careers guidance should be extended to primary schools. That is because children begin to think about their futures when they are as young as five or six. By the age of seven, life-defining decisions are being formed in their minds; by the age of 10, many have already made career-limiting decisions; and by 14, those decisions tend to be very firm. Children’s perceptions of what they could do are often based on where they live, who they know and what jobs those people do, the employment of their parents and friends, and their own education. We concluded that their education needs to become much more important as a factor.

At this stage, I draw attention to the North East Ambition career benchmarks primary pilot, involving 70 primary schools across the region, which has now reported on its second year. It was established by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and is supported by the EY Foundation. There are eight benchmarks, adapted from the Gatsby benchmarks to a primary setting, incorporating curriculum learning linked to careers, visits and visitors, encounters with FE and HE, and personal guidance. The pilot has been successfully embedded. It has built capacity, is being extended to more primary schools and has shown how it can be replicated at scale right across the country, particularly in disadvantaged areas. It should be part of the Government’s levelling-up plans. If you level up people, you can level up places.

The Bill’s sponsor in the House of Commons, Mark Jenkinson MP, said on launching the Bill:

“Good careers advice is important to all children … But it’s really important that from as early an age as possible, we seek to set out the options.”


I agree. We have this Bill, but we need to go further. We need a framework for effective careers learning at primary level, teachers recruited and trained to lead in schools and a specific careers leader in every secondary school, as well as training for all middle and senior leaders in those schools. Careers education and guidance must not come too late to help a young person form proper judgments. They should not, for example, be obliged to choose their specialist subjects before they consider their hopes for employment. Young people should leave school in a position to succeed. That is what levelling up is about.

10:42
Baroness Altmann Portrait Baroness Altmann (Con)
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My Lords, I, too, congratulate my honourable friend Mark Jenkinson and my noble friend Lord Lucas on introducing this Bill. I also congratulate the Minister and the Government for their welcome support for it. I fully support the aim to provide independent careers guidance and ensure that it is available throughout the state-funded secondary school system in this country, including in academies. It seems difficult, if not impossible, to justify the exclusion so far of some secondary pupils from statutory independent careers guidance, which pupils in other institutions are automatically entitled to. Clearly, this is part of the levelling-up agenda and will help to ensure wider opportunities for all our school children.

Clause 1 ensures that careers education must start as soon as possible after secondary education begins. That means that it will become, for all Year 7s, a marker that they have reached a new stage of life, rather than waiting until Year 8. It also includes a duty to provide information about education opportunities available after age 16, such as technical training, apprenticeships or on-the-job training, to guide students into other non-school or non-university paths. This is so important for those who may not be suited to an academic university course and will help to guide children who may not otherwise consider them into practical courses for the start of a future working life so they do not feel pressured to apply only to university, which may not suit them.

Finally, as my noble friend Lord Lucas said, as part of careers education in 21st-century Britain, we must ensure that we include access to information about not just the local employment opportunities but national opportunities for careers that would be available to pupils. Crucially, we also need to include a recognition that our children should not necessarily expect, in 21st-century Britain, a career to last for the rest of their life. We need to make clear that it is okay to change your mind, too; if you think about something you definitely want to do in Year 7, you may change your mind later. Throughout life, there will be a need to move to different types of work, retrain and reskill. I hope that our careers education will help students recognise that, as they progress through life, their career can mould to fit them and the needs of the local, national or even global jobs market.

10:45
Lord Holmes of Richmond Portrait Lord Holmes of Richmond (Con)
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My Lords, it is a pleasure to take part in this Second Reading debate. In doing so, I declare my interest as chancellor of BPP University and as a trustee of the Burberry Foundation, which does much work on careers levelling up in Yorkshire and internationally. I add to the congratulations for my noble friend Lord Lucas and my honourable friend Mark Jenkinson in another place. While congratulating noble friends, it is right and proper to mention my noble friend Lord Baker. He gave us Baker days and, lastly, the Baker clause. With UTCs and his understanding of technical education, he has done as much as anybody to ensure that the nation is in a better place for our young people to come through, work and have fulfilling careers in new technologies, with everything that is required to make a success of the fourth industrial revolution. In many ways, when it comes to technical education, he is the don.

This Bill does exactly what it says; it is simple and clear, and I support it. It helps with levelling the playing field and, through that, levelling up. But I ask my noble friend Lord Lucas and the Minister: are we doing enough to support young disabled people with careers advice? Do careers advisers have the same aspirations and ambitions for disabled young people as for non-disabled young people? I ask the Minister particularly whether careers advisers are fully aware of the support available to help disabled people succeed through higher education and employment, including the disabled students’ allowance and the Access to Work programme. As a slight trailer, I am bringing out a report on the disabled students’ allowance next week. One of the recommendations is around exactly that and the careers advice that young people can expect and hope to rely on.

Can it be right that the progression rate for young people moving from schools into higher education for non-disabled young people is 47%, while for disabled students with SEN support it is just 20% and for those who have an education, health and care plan it is just 8%? For higher tariff providers—Oxbridge and the Russell group—the non-disabled progression rate is 12%, while for students with SEN support it is 3% and for those with an EHCP it is just 1%. This is quite simply a question of talent. How can we, as a nation, afford to waste such talent purely because it is born into young disabled people? Would my noble friend agree that we currently face an unacceptable situation in this country in that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not?

I say to all young people, particularly young disabled people: whatever your ambition, aspiration or career thoughts, believe in them. You can achieve. Use the careers service and careers advisers to help—it is entirely possible. It has to be the case that we address those numbers so that there truly is equality for everybody across this country. This Bill goes some way towards addressing the unacceptable reality that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not and I wish it a safe, speedy passage on to the statute book.

10:49
Lord Aberdare Portrait Lord Aberdare (CB)
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My Lords, I welcome this Bill and wish the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, success in piloting it through this House. I am delighted to hear that it has support from the Government. I am grateful for the briefings I have received from the Careers & Enterprise Company, the Careers Development Institute and Teach First, all of which have played such an important part in completing the careers education jigsaw that has been taking encouraging shape in recent years.

As befits a Private Member’s Bill, this is a relatively modest piece of the jigsaw. I entirely support its aim of extending the duty to provide careers guidance to all students in state-funded secondary education. Apart from that, I have little to add about the Bill, as far as it goes, though I slightly regret that it does not go a bit further. I will mention three missing pieces of the jigsaw, which I hope the Minister will comment on in her response.

First, I echo the argument from the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, that careers guidance should be extended even further to include primary education. So many of children’s aspirations and attitudes are formed at primary school age and it can only be beneficial for them to gain awareness of the world of opportunities available to them, beyond what they know from friends and family or see in films and television or on social media. As the noble Lord said, this could be key to increasing social mobility. Some 90% of primary teachers surveyed in 2019 believed that career-related learning, supported by employers, can challenge stereotypes about what subjects and jobs boys and girls are interested in. I ask the Minister what thinking there is in government about a possible framework for careers learning in primary schools—possibly based on the Birmingham example that the noble Lord mentioned—and how it might be funded.

Secondly, I worry about the pipeline of highly qualified careers professionals. How confident is the Minister that there will be enough such professionals to meet the needs for independent, high-quality careers information, advice and guidance, including personal guidance, not least after the expansion that this Bill would bring about? A recent CDI survey of careers professionals found that over a quarter of respondents were likely to leave the profession within two years, with poor pay and benefits being the biggest driver and cited by 40%. Action may be needed to promote the profession itself as a career opportunity, offering rewards more commensurate with its importance.

Thirdly, more work is needed to embed careers education throughout the school curriculum, across all subjects. The CEC has a programme with Pinewood Studios and the Academies Enterprise Trust developing resources and lesson plans to demonstrate to students from years 7 to 10 how the maths that they study relates to actual jobs in television, film, production and management. More such programmes are needed, including training and support for subject teachers themselves, with careers awareness built into every stage of their professional development, as promised in the Skills for Jobs White Paper. What can the Minister tell us about plans in this area?

Many other pieces of the skills education jigsaw still need to be put into place and I regret the lack of a refreshed careers strategy outlining the overall picture. The strategy launched in 2017 provided much of the recent momentum and, without such a strategy, there is a danger of numerous individual initiatives, worthy in themselves, not forming a coherent whole. To cite one example: we have a much-improved careers system and a focus on apprenticeships, yet hardly any of the apprentices I meet heard about their apprenticeship from their schools.

I wish this Bill well and look forward to hearing from the Minister how she and her colleagues plan to fill remaining gaps in the jigsaw so that the welcome progress made in careers education over recent years is maintained. Nothing could be more important, both for the nation and for our young people.

10:53
Lord Baker of Dorking Portrait Lord Baker of Dorking (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by congratulating Mark Jenkinson, the Member of Parliament for Workington, for introducing this Bill. I know him well because in his constituency there is a university technical college on the north-west coast near Sellafield, which is now the most successful school in Cumbria. It is probably the most successful school in the north of England, as 70% of last year’s school leavers became apprentices and the rest went on to university or got a local job. The college has been outstanding. He knows how important it is for children to be given an alternative to the very narrow academic education, with the eight academic subjects that they now have in schools. Children have to be aware that there is another world out there with a lot of opportunities.

I am afraid that this debate could not happen in Russia because we have not come here as a servile body to lavish praise on the Government and to say how wonderfully they have done on career guidance over the last 10 years. The record has been dismal and bleak. Why do I say that? It is not a casual, careless argument. In 2010, when the Conservatives became responsible for education, there were more than 100,000 apprentices aged under 19. In 2020, it had fallen to just over 50,000. That is failure, not success.

I draw the attention of the Minister to the excellent report from the Select Committee on Youth Unemployment, chaired excellently by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley. Figure 21 in the report shows the number of apprenticeships over the last 10 years; it shows that, as I have just said, there were 100,000 apprenticeships falling to lower than 50,000.

We were also very concerned in our report about how to improve the information going to disadvantaged children. Children who live in the leafy suburbs with grammars schools do not require that sort of guidance but children who live in disadvantaged areas and are now restricted by this very narrow academic curriculum need advice, guidance and help.

We were very disturbed to find that in many disadvantaged areas there were very high levels of youth unemployment. The general level of youth unemployment among NEETs is about 9%. We analysed youth unemployment in various boroughs in the West Midlands. I refer the Minister to figure 22 in the report—not immediately, but later. The general level of youth unemployment is 9%, but we found that in Sandwell, it was 20%, in Wolverhampton it was 19%, and in Stoke and Birmingham it was 18%. In those areas, knowledge of alternative study and changes in career prospects are just not getting through, quite frankly.

I now come to the Baker clause. I do not talk about a Baker clause on the grounds of vanity or reputation. When you are 87, vanity and reputation are really all in the past. I introduced the Baker clause only in order to get a good message over to youngsters in schools of the alternatives available to them apart from eight narrow academic subjects. I persuaded the Government three years ago. Unfortunately, they decided to do the drafting themselves and did not make it workable.

I suggested that they ought to make a duty on schools to have a meeting to explain—first to the 12 and 13 year-olds, then to the 14 and 16 year-olds and then to the 16 and 18 year-olds—all the alternative provision that is available from, for example, apprenticeship providers, FE colleges, independent sixth-form colleges that have very practical A-levels and not the academic ones, and university technical colleges.

They said that the Minister would issue advice and the schools would follow. The Minister issued advice and nothing happened at all. When we approached the schools they said that they were sorry, they could not arrange the meeting, they were too busy or could only have a meeting one Friday afternoon in July and things like that. It has been completely inoperable for the last three years. The Government have done nothing about it until now. They said they were going to consult on it. You do not need to consult on a really simple subject like that. You just have to make up your mind and act.

When UTCs applied to schools to go in and talk to their students, we were fobbed off. We were told not to appear. When we complained to the Government, again they did nothing. They did not approach the schools; they did not reproach the schools and tell them anything—they did nothing. They said they would go out to consultation. You do not need consultation on a simple subject like this.

Now, we will have the debate on the Baker clause when the amendment comes back in the next fortnight or so to this House. Again, I suggest to the Government that they have got it wrong. What they are saying now is that all the schools have to do is to produce one meeting. I am conscious of the time, but time is not a problem; people are not speaking and no one has spoken for five minutes so far, so the Whip may relax.

The current clause says that only one meeting should take place in each of the three years. On the evidence, I want three meetings, but it is being said that everyone would have to have nine meetings. That is completely wrong—it is false news. I want three meetings, with 12 to 13 year-olds, 14 to 16 year-olds and 16 to 18 year-olds. We will debate that later.

I will briefly quote some things from our report. We listened and talked to lots of unemployed people in the north-west, Nottingham and London. A young person said,

“when I was in school in Year 11 apprenticeships were not really spoken about, I didn’t know anything about them. Even now I don’t really hear a lot about them. I only first heard about them at the time I applied for one”.

This is the ignorance that children have when they leave school today. It is very evident in our report.

We also recommend that Ofsted should not give “outstanding” to any school that does not have a proper career advice policy and implementation. These are the sorts of recommendations that I hope the Minister will warmly support when she answers our report, otherwise we will just sink backwards. We must make progress in this area and not depend on the failure of the past.

11:01
Lord Addington Portrait Lord Addington (LD)
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My Lords, it is rather daunting to follow the noble Lord, Lord Baker, who has been described today as the don in this field of career education by someone on his own side. I have not disagreed with him much on this subject and I do not think I did at all today. He says he does not care about reputation, at the age of 87; I think we will use his reputation when he reaches 88 and 89 to try to put some pressure on the Government on this.

The Bill is a good but small thing. It takes a step forward and deals with some of the historical anomalies and oddities of academies that we are constantly dealing with. The noble Baroness, Lady Morris, is absolutely right about the attitude, “We cannot do this because it is an academy”—but this is supposed to be a universal education system. We go back and forth on this all the time, and a Bill that at least sets that precedent—regardless of its primary purpose—is taking a step forward. Mark Jenkinson, who is watching us very astutely from just outside the Bar, may have set a precedent he did not look to set.

On making sure that there is more advice on careers guidance, I am struck by one thing: you really cannot start talking about this early enough. The term “careers guidance” might not be right for primary schools—“lifestyle choices” might be better—but I am reminded of what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said about conservative changes: if something is already there, at least people will have a rough idea of what you are saying. We can spend our entire lives reinventing the wheel; if we want to make some small changes, we might get a term that we know and then slightly adapt it. Stereotype-breaking is essential, to make sure that people actually know what is going on.

This is a very odd time; now, we have to get people not just to aspire higher but to think laterally. The level 4 and 5 executive shortage in our country, which was probably done no favours by saying that everybody should go to university to get to level 6, so they then have to de-skill in certain subjects, has been going on for decades and has been made slightly worse. We must think differently. That means we need informed people not only giving information but interpreting it. Those who made that point were right—“Here is a list of facts; read down the list”, but what do the facts mean? What are the options? What steps do I take, and what support is there to enable me to take them?

I had a nagging suspicion that I would end up agreeing with everybody; I discern that I will clearly have to read my noble friend Lord Shipley’s report, and not just the executive summary. I am not sure I should thank him for that.

Lord Baker of Dorking Portrait Lord Baker of Dorking (Con)
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We have made it very simple to read by having lots of illustrations. There are about 30 illustrations, which is very unusual for a Select Committee report, because we thought that now people—particularly with all the government press conferences—look at charts and understand the issues very quickly. It will not be too demanding for the noble Lord to look at the pictures.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Oh!

Lord Addington Portrait Lord Addington (LD)
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I walked into that, didn’t I? I thank the noble Lord. I turn to the next report I will have to read, from my friend the noble Lord, Lord Holmes. Special educational needs are an area which will put greater demand on staff. We are talking about 20% to 25% of the population. If you have a problem accessing forms of education because of special educational needs—an effect which I think we can agree applies here—you will need to apply things differently. I remind the House of my interests in this and as a dyslexic who uses such things as voice operation, having gone through how it applies; with every technological advance, you will have to learn how to apply it.

I reiterate to the Government one more time: if they insist that people have to pass English and maths in a written, pen-and-paper test, they will effectively be countering their argument. The recent announcements on access to higher education and other things go counter to their own legislation. If the Government have time, to get some idea while we are going through this about how that guidance will appear would be really helpful—and how we make sure it is coherent and holistic, transferring people to better options and continuing to give them the basis to transfer afterwards. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, who said that people will no longer be in the same job for life. We must try to get that flexibility and knowledge built in.

This Bill is a good step forward. I encourage all noble Lords to get behind it and make sure it gets on to the statute book, but it is only part of the process. It sets the precedent for making sure that all schools, regardless of how they were founded and when and in which piece of ridiculous or great legislation—depending on your point of view or how much it has annoyed you recently—in our universal system have a universal system of supply. It sets a precedent for making sure you know that what happens both in your local environment and down the road, even if it is a long road, is also available, and that you might have to transfer between them. These are all important things. We must make sure that it is coherent throughout.

I hope the Minister can also give a small assurance that we will make sure that, when looking at all forms of providers throughout this legislation, we apply with sanctions, for the reasons raised earlier. It would be interesting to get a little nod towards that.

Can the Minister give us a coherent assurance that we will make sure that we invest in the people who deliver? Without that, this legislation does not really matter. Will there be another series of lists and another tier of teachers who have gone through the A-level system giving advice about what could be done to get to level 4 via a T-level—which, once again, we do not understand yet properly? That will not help. We need people who are properly trained, because training is the important bit. Unless it is of high quality, we may as well give up and go home now.

11:09
Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport (Lab)
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My Lords, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and others, this promising Bill would extend the existing duty that some schools have to make careers guidance available. It would mean that all secondary school pupils in the state sector got access to independent careers advice.

Labour supported this Bill in the Commons, and I am happy to reaffirm this today. These measures are an important first step in aligning the experience—and, ultimately, the life chances—of state school pupils with their independently educated peers, who we know in general have much greater access to information. Indeed, as a former teacher in the state sector with 34 years’ experience, I can confirm that careers guidance was always a moveable feast. However, in my former school, Hawthorn High School in Pontypridd, we were fortunate to have the skills and knowledge of one of the area’s outstanding careers teachers, as noted by her regular grade 1 Estyn grading—my former colleague Helen Lima. Every student deserves the opportunity to have such support. As my noble friend Lady Morris said, young people lack the skills to make the appropriate decisions—particularly youngsters with greater socio-economic needs.

Careers education must be a crucial building block of the Government’s schools policy—and their levelling up. I am glad to see the levelling-up Minister here to listen. Labour stands ready to help the Government in their aims on this wherever we can. There is a serious gap of rigorous and dynamic careers guidance in our schools. In the Skills for Jobs White Paper, the DfE admits that

“there is no single place you can go to get government-backed, comprehensive careers information.”

We have the opportunity to correct this, and we simply must ensure that the provision put in place is evidence-based and effective.

It is no use, for example, if pupils are encouraged into contracting industries, or not informed about burgeoning ones, especially in our dynamic area of future technologies. Indeed, despite the admirable intent of the Baker clause—and boy, did I like those Baker days from 1988 onwards; they were very useful—a third of students say they have received no information about apprenticeships. So I urge the Minister to consider monitoring and evaluation when implementing these measures. What metrics will the Government use to define success—user satisfaction or employment outcomes? And, importantly, how will we change course if the scheme is failing?

I pay tribute to the honourable Member for Workington, who is sponsoring this Bill. In Committee in the other place, he pointed out that only 45% of secondary schools and colleges are involved in career hubs, the formal partnership between schools, businesses and training providers. This seems like a lost opportunity. I would argue that the Government could go further and faster. Is their aim for the number to be 100%, and by when?

Labour’s strongly held view is that every young person should be able to expect quality work experience —an experience that opens their horizons and is judged not on whether they are safe but on whether it helps them to experience their future world of work. Indeed, I am delighted that the leader of the Opposition in the other place has announced an excellent offer that will be introduced by the next Labour Government. It will include the equivalent of two weeks-worth of compulsory work experience to connect young people with local employers, build the skills for work and ensure that every child and young person has access to quality careers advice in their school by giving every school access to a professional careers adviser once a week: a Helen Lima for every school.

Until that day, however, I conclude by reaffirming our overall support for the Bill and my gratitude to all those supporting it. These are surely common-sense measures and a solid step on the way to helping school pupils into meaningful employment and a bright future.

11:14
Baroness Barran Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Baroness Barran) (Con)
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My Lords, I join your Lordships in thanking my noble friend Lord Lucas for bringing forward this Bill, and I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate. I am also grateful to my honourable friend the Member for Workington for his work on this important Bill, and I congratulate him on ensuring that it passed through the other place.

High-quality careers guidance prepares young people for what comes next. It connects young people from all backgrounds to education and training opportunities that lead to great jobs—as my noble friend Lady Altmann said, not just one great job but several over a career. Furthermore, careers guidance is an essential underpinning to the Government’s skills reform, and that is why I am happy to lend my support, and that of the Government, to this Bill.

The cross-party support apparent in the other place shows that there is agreement in both Houses that careers guidance in secondary schools is vital and, in particular, on the benefits of inspiring our young people about a range of great careers, raising aspirations and encouraging them to maximise their talent and skills. The Government support the Bill because we want to level up the country, give access to opportunity and allow talent to flourish—as my noble friend Lord Lucas said, whether that be in the locality you grew up or outside it.

As we emerge from this pandemic, good-quality careers advice is essential to build a workforce that is dynamic and flexible. It is critical that young people are provided with guidance on future labour market opportunities and growth sectors, so that they can learn the skills they need to be successful in our fast-paced and ever-evolving jobs market—a point that the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, mentioned.

My noble friend challenged me on whether the Government would stick with the programme, and I am pleased to reassure him that in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, we committed to extending careers hubs, career leader training, digital support and the enterprise adviser networks—the employer volunteers—to all secondary schools and colleges in England. Your Lordships will remember that that recommendation was in the Augar review, and we accepted it. My noble friend explained the Bill very ably. It is a simple but effective Bill, and I will not repeat what it aims to achieve, but I shall attempt to address some of the points raised by your Lordships today.

I know that my noble friend Lord Baker and I do not agree on absolutely every aspect of widening pupil access to alternative providers, but we agree on the principle of it, and we agree that there are still too many schools failing to comply with provider access legislation. Your Lordships will be aware that, through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, we aim to strengthen the law so that all schools must offer at least three encounters with providers of approved technical education qualifications and apprenticeships for pupils in years 8 to 13. For the first time, we will introduce parameters around the content of these encounters to safeguard their quality.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Holmes raised the important issue of careers provision for those students with special educational needs and disabilities. The Bill extends careers provision to all pupils in state secondary education, including those in mainstream schools with special educational needs provision, and in special schools. The Careers & Enterprise Company works with career leaders to design and deliver career education programmes tailored to the needs of young people with special educational needs and disabilities. All mainstream and special schools have been invited to be involved in the Careers & Enterprise Company’s inclusion community of practice, which operates out of 32 career hubs and currently reaches 628 educational establishments. This national community of best practice sharing was established to enable young people with special educational needs to be much better supported in their careers education, and this will be rolled out to all careers hubs in the next academic year.

I do not want to dwell on the minimum education requirements raised by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, but I remind him that we are consulting on them; this is not a decision.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Wilcox and Lady Morris of Yardley, rightly talked about the importance of work experience. The careers statutory guidance makes it clear that schools and colleges should follow the Gatsby benchmarks. They are evidence-based, as the noble Baroness opposite rightly challenged, and offer both personal guidance and experience of work as part of their career strategy for pupils.

The noble Lords, Lord Shipley and Lord Aberdare, mentioned the value of engaging children in primary schools. Of course, they are right that this has the potential to broaden horizons and raise aspirations. The Careers & Enterprise Company has produced a suite of resources to support the delivery of these activities in primary schools, and we support programmes such as Primary Futures that help to broaden students’ aspirations at an earlier stage.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, asked for a clearer careers strategy. He may be aware that the Government have appointed Professor Sir John Holman as the independent strategic adviser on careers guidance. He is currently advising us on greater local and national alignment between the National Careers Service and the Careers & Enterprise Company. He will also advise on the development of a cohesive and coherent careers system for the long term; we expect to receive his recommendations this summer.

As we have heard from your Lordships, we cannot underestimate how important careers advice is. The Bill will help to make sure that every young person in a state secondary school, whatever their background and wherever they live in the country, can get on in life. I thank your Lordships for their contributions, which the Government are pleased to support; I urge the House to do the same.

Lord Aberdare Portrait Lord Aberdare (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister has made no reference to my concern about whether careers professionals will be available in sufficient number and quality to deliver the ambitious plans that the Government have outlined.

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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We are confident. We are working in a number of ways, which I am happy to set out for the noble Lord in writing.

11:22
Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken, particularly my noble friend the Minister for that reply. I think that, if today were a baking day for my noble friend Lord Baker, he would have an oven full of hot cross buns. As ever, his was an impressive speech and one that we should all listen to. I very much look forward to the debates that we will have when this kill Bill returns to this House. It is really important that something we all agree should happen is framed in such a way that it does happen.

I support what the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Yardley, said about how difficult it is for people to realise that something might be for them and then take the first step, and about the efficacy of having someone by their side to help. I really hope that we find the Government determined to move forward on careers hubs and career leaders’ education, including working with education employers; my noble friend the Minister mentioned the work done by Primary Futures and other equivalent organisations to produce people who can be by someone’s side when they are looking at taking that first step.

The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, focused on extending this to primary. It is important. Children coming into secondary school have a lot of their ideas formed by that stage; a narrowing has taken place. It does not take much. I have been on several Primary Future expeditions. At that age, children are so uncritical. They open up to new ideas so easily. They love sitting down next to a policeman or a nurse, or someone like that, who can talk to them about what they do in a way they have not had exposure to. It really works well as a formula.

As ever, my noble friend Lord Holmes waxed lyrical on disabled people. I must say, I have found it astonishingly difficult to employ disabled people. I have never found a structure, with charities or the Government, that makes it easier for me to communicate with and reach disabled people or understand how to do that better. I hope that we will see some progress on that; we need a structure that industry can relate to and which really supports disabled people. It is not beyond human wit.

Thinking about my noble friend Lady Altmann’s speech, I am reminded of Cisco’s pride that its champion apprentice was a woman who was previously a hairdresser. It had changed its advertising, so that the way it described its jobs appealed to people like that. It is not hard, if you are given help or you have the inspiration, to make changes, but it really helps if you have a structure to work with in doing that.

I am extremely grateful to all who have spoken. I wish the Bill a swift and untroubled passage through this House and very much look forward to its implementation.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
Order of Commitment
15:12
Moved by
Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas
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That the order of commitment be discharged.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas (Con)
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My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Motion agreed.
Third Reading
10:05
Motion
Moved by
Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas
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That the Bill do now pass.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas (Con)
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My Lords, I am honoured to have been chosen by my honourable friend Mark Jenkinson to take this Bill through. It is seemingly small but it will benefit a lot of people in a very important way. I must say that for 30 years in this House it has been my ambition to achieve that; Mr Jenkinson has achieved it in one short Bill. I therefore congratulate him and I am grateful to the Government for their support. I beg to move.

Lord Watson of Invergowrie Portrait Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Lab)
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My Lords, we welcome the Bill and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on continuing the good work of the honourable Member for Workington. I particularly welcome the fact that the Bill includes academies, which is an important aspect of increasing its chances of reaching the maximum number of children to begin their preparations for a career and the world of work. For so long we have been told that academies are often literally a law unto themselves, and the terms of their funding agreements mean that in many aspects of their provision they cannot be told what to do. The Bill demonstrates that in fact they can and that all that is required is a stroke of the Secretary of State’s pen. A precedent has thus been created.

I will not rehearse the powerful arguments advanced by my noble friend Lady Wilcox at Second Reading on the need for effective, regular, independent careers guidance. However, I feel that I have to draw something to the attention of the Minister—if her eyes roll as I start this, frankly, I would not be surprised, because it is about the consistency of government policy again. Yesterday I raised with her the fact that the Levelling Up White Paper talked up mayoral combined authorities at the same time as she was advancing a government position that effectively talked them down in terms of local skills improvement plans. We had the Chancellor talking up the need for an apprenticeship levy review just a month after the Government had voted down a Labour amendment in another place asking for just that. This Bill talks about year 7; it lowers the start of career guidance from year 8 to year 7. Yesterday the Minister said:

“We question the value of provider encounters in year 7, before those students can act on them”.—[Official Report, 24/3/22; col. 1139.]


That is what this Bill does. I may not be alone in being not just perplexed but slightly irritated at the Government’s apparent inability to present consistent policy. It is absolutely right that year 7 should be where it starts, but it was right yesterday in our discussions on the skills improvement Bill as well and I very much regret that that was not accepted.

Finally, the concession on the skills Bill that the Minister made this week in respect of the noble Lord, Lord Baker, and his clause, shows that the Government have finally determined that they will make careers guidance more effective and meaningful and they are supporting it further in this Bill. That is why we welcome the Bill and look forward to it becoming law.

Baroness Barran Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Baroness Barran) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Lucas for bringing forward the Bill and I thank all noble Lords who have participated in its passage through your Lordships’ House.

If I may, I will clarify the reference to Hansard that the noble Lord opposite made. When I said that students were not able to act on those encounters, that was not encounters in relation to careers advice but provider encounters with colleagues from further education colleges—UTCs. That is an important distinction to make.

This simple but effective Bill will ensure that all pupils in all types of state-funded secondary schools in England are legally entitled to independent careers guidance throughout their secondary education. That means high-quality support for every single child in every single state secondary school in every single local authority in England, without exception. It will fulfil a commitment in the Skills for Jobs White Paper, reaching over 600,000 year 7 pupils each year.

I am enormously grateful to my honourable friend the Member for Workington for his work on this important Bill and I congratulate him on ensuring that it passed through the other place. I know that the whole House will be grateful for this move to extend access to independent careers guidance, which will be widely welcomed. The Government are committed to supporting schools across the country to develop and improve their careers provision. The Bill is one step forward in ensuring that our young people receive high-quality careers guidance from an earlier age.

Bill passed.

Royal Assent

Royal Assent
Thursday 31st March 2022

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 140-I Marshalled list for Committee - (30 Mar 2022)
11:06
The following Acts were given Royal Assent:
Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Act,
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Act,
Nuclear Energy (Financing) Act,
National Insurance Contributions (Increase of Thresholds) Act.