Association of Employment and Learning Providers

Press release – Embargoed until 28 February 2020, 00.01hrs

Time to overhaul totally dysfunctional careers advice system as AELP publishes new plan for action

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has published a hard-hitting 5-point plan to finally sort out England’s dysfunctional careers advice system for school children and adults.

A key new recommendation is that Ofsted should hold back from awarding an overall ‘outstanding’ grade to any school failing to comply with the Baker Clause which legally requires students to have access to FE and skills providers to obtain information on the technical education and apprenticeship opportunities available to them.

Currently only 4% of 16 year olds start an apprenticeship after GCSEs while only 7% of 18 year olds choose to go to an apprenticeship. Despite the programme’s obvious advantages and avoidance of student debt, successful apprentices regularly say that they have never been told about apprenticeships at school.

As a leading advocate for apprenticeships and other vocational educational routes, AELP has submitted the proposals to education ministers in advance of National Careers Week beginning 2nd March. The plan calls for:

  • incentivising schools to promote apprenticeships
  • enforcement of the Baker Clause
  • investment in better workforce development for teachers
  • facilitating collaboration between schools and training providers
  • refocusing existing careers guidance initiatives.


School funding disincentive against apprenticeships

At present to remain financially viable, schools with sixth forms encourage students to continue towards A levels, regardless of whether that may be the best decision for individual pupils. The financial disincentive to recommend apprenticeships should be removed and schools should actually be rewarded for the number of pupils who embark on the programme or other forms of skills training.

AELP recognises the challenges faced by teachers but current initiatives to raise awareness among them about the benefits apprenticeships and to encourage more teachers to recommend them to pupils are simply not working to any measurable extent. Therefore it calls for making knowledge of apprenticeships and technical education a key component of the teacher training syllabus.

As part of Baker Clause compliance, AELP believes there should be at least 3 career-focused interactions per child with representatives of the FE and skills sector between year 9 and year 11. Training providers have close links with thousands of local employers and the current system is not taking advantage of this. Providers’ good connections with employers give access to both current and former apprentices and there is literally nothing better than listening to ex-apprentices about their experiences.

Reviewing existing careers guidance services

The delivery of careers advice and guidance remains incoherent and fragmented, with more than one service targeting the same audience group and providing overlapping services.

AELP says that the departmental value for money review and the DfE’s implementation of manifesto commitments on the National Retraining Scheme and National Skills Fund offer the opportunity for a complete rethink of approach. Reviewing in particular the roles of the Careers and Enterprise Company and the National Careers Service, the government needs to refocus current initiatives to deliver fewer services that are more accurately targeted at distinct groups of people who need them, thereby avoiding unnecessary duplication and cost.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers Mark Dawe said:

“For so many years, whether it’s because of academic snobbery or for other reasons, England has totally failed in offering its school children careers advice which serves their best interests and gives them the best start to life. Successive governments have tinkered around the edges wasting millions of pounds in the process and the overall approach has just been too soft.

“To be fair, we know that ministers have become very frustrated at schools’ lack of compliance with the Baker Clause, but AELP’s 5-point plan gives the new ministerial team at the DfE the chance to go beyond that immediate issue and really get to the root of the problem by for example training teachers to understand the obvious benefits of apprenticeships and technical education. Implementing this plan would show that the government is really serious about sorting out our woeful record on careers advice once and for all.”

Link to AELP submission - A joined-up approach to careers information, advice and guidance



Contact Aidan Relf on 07710 305182

Notes to Editors

  1. In 2017/18, all key stage 4 (i.e. after GCSEs) headline destination percentages remained similar to 2016/17 with 94% of pupils going into a sustained education, apprenticeship or employment destination. The majority of pupils continued into a school sixth form (38%) or went into further education (37%). 4% of pupils went into a sustained apprenticeship destination.
  2. Destinations after 16 to 18 study for state-funded mainstream schools and colleges - Almost half (49%) of all students who took mainly level 3 qualifications progressed to higher education (level 4 and above) in the year after they finished 16 to 18 study. A further 24% went into employment, 6% into further education and 7% into apprenticeships.



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