Katharine Horler, Chair of Careers England, was among those giving evidence to the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy on 7 March looking at Careers Guidance. Much of her evidence focused on the quality of provision that is patchy throughout the system. She said “what you are looking at, at the moment is a completely unregulated market so anybody can give careers advice. It does not matter whether they have any background whatsoever. There is nothing that guides the parent or a young person about how good the quality is for a provider. If they have got matrix you know that they have passed a certain benchmark”

Careers England, she reminded the  Sub-Committee  “promotes a three-pronged approach to quality, which is that schools are encouraged to do a quality in careers standard award, that providers get the matrix award and that individuals have a level 6. If you have those three bits right then that would mean that you had a high standard of service across the board. There are three things: QiCS for schools, matrix for providers and level 6 for individuals.”

The Committee Chair Neil Carmichael asked how overall  the system could be simplified.

Horler listed six organisations currently involved in aspects of  career guidance – DfE, BIS, DWP, Ministry of Justice, the Cabinet Office and DCLG.

She continued “ First, strategically, what we have said in Careers England in the position paper that we produced after the election was that we do not think you need any new money for careers. What you need to do is to put it all together because it is scattering off in six different directions. If you pooled all that money together and you had a coherent strategy that went across the piece and covered all those agendas, that would make a huge difference. If you like, that is at the strategic level.

I think what you have at the user level is what Adam (Warner) described, a trail of people turning up on schools’ front doorsteps, banging on the door and offering them practically the same service. For example, in the National Careers Service contract we have to do the inspiration agenda, which is about working with schools to help inspire and motivate young people. That is exactly the same agenda as the Careers and Enterprise Company, careers co-ordinators, enterprise co-ordinators and enterprise advisers. Then you have the DWP and the work they are doing in schools, so that is three lots doing exactly the same thing. That has to be a waste of money, so if we could pull it together and spread it out so that each school had one person to deal with, you are more likely to make an impact on schools, you are less likely to waste money, and what a fantastic message to give to Government to say, “We do not need any new money, we just need to spend what is already there more sensibly”.

To read the full oral transcript which includes more discussion about the benefits of assessment against the matrix Standard visit: