North Yorkshire children will be introduced to the working world from the age of 11 and traditional two-week work placements look set to be phased out as part of a radical shake-up in careers guidance, councillors have heard.
North Yorkshire County Council members were told following a two-year project working with 20 schools and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership, the authority was well placed to implement a government drive to improve careers guidance.
Katherine Bruce, the authority’s vulnerable learners adviser, told the Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, before the study “the state of careers guidance was very basic in some North Yorkshire schools”.
Among the immediate requirements for schools and colleges is to provide a stable careers programme, address the needs of each student, link curriculum learning to careers, and enable encounters with employers and workplace experiences.
Ms Bruce said under the government guidance, schools and colleges had also been forbidden from blocking providers or education and apprenticeships from talking to pupils.
From September, schools and colleges will be expected to publish their careers programme to enable parents to study it and also to appoint a careers leader.
By the end of 2020, schools will be required to provide workplace encounters for every pupil. Some of the encounters must be with science, technology, engineering or mathematics-based employers.
Ms Bruce said: “This is the requirement that every young person, not just year 11 and year 10, but from year 7, every child will have at least one high-quality encounter with employers all the way from year 7 to year 13. So that is going to be quite a requirement for schools.
“There is quite a focus in the new statutory guidance in revisiting work experience and recognising many schools are doing away with the two-week placement and it’s talking much more flexibly about workplace encounters. So the notion of the two-week placements will almost certainly not be there.”
The meeting heard while longer work placements were expensive to run and put pressures on the budgets of smaller schools, numerous other experiences would be offered to pupils, such as mock interviews or half-day visits.
The government guidelines – which schools and colleges have been warned they will lose funding if they do not follow – comes after a pilot careers project run at 16 schools and colleges in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area that concluded schools found them easy to use and transformative.
After the project, Ryan Gibson, national facilitator for the Career Benchmarks Pilot at North East LEP, said: “Good career guidance is vital if young people are to reach their potential and make the most of the opportunities available to them.
“The schools and colleges involved in the pilot have made fantastic progress and we’re delighted that there is now international interest in our work.”