As the general election approaches there has been an enormous amount of promises, guarantees and quid pro quos offered, mooted and suggested. Indeed there have been any number of inducements offered up to the electorate gods to curry favour. A lot of talk has been about education, the funding crisis and so on – but yet still nothing of any worth has been said by the parties of any colour about the importance of addressing the parlous careers and pathways advice being offered in schools.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record this cannot continue. For too long, people who know about this issue have been banging the drums but for whatever reason it gets no attention. The media seem utterly uninterested in giving this the exposure it deserves – apparently securing meaningful advice for every student to give them the direction they need to access the course/ apprenticeship/ job is small fry when stacked against new ‘initiatives’ that stretch already overburdened teachers. As long as no one is talking about it the parents are none the wiser. If you ask anyone over the age of 30 about their careers guidance at school I guarantee that 90%, if not more of them, will tell you unequivocally that it was shit. The assumption is that it would have got better. It hasn’t. At least in the past we had a dedicated service with ostensibly trained professionals in this field, nowadays we don’t even have that. Now we have overworked and under experienced teachers being pulled into doing a job they are by definition unqualified to do.
This is not a polemic in favour of any political party, I think they are unilaterally failing to address the single largest issue facing the nation. Without a well trained, robust and ambitious cohort of eager young graduates and apprentices we have nothing. With Brexit the goalposts have changed, in house, home-grown talent must be the default now, not in an embarrassing British jobs for British people manner but no longer will the best and the brightest flock to these shores to take up the skilled work that is done by so many immigrants. They will, not unnaturally, favour countries that are open and outward facing. With fewer trading partners we will need to revitalise certain industries, we can’t rely on our services and banking background to shore us up as the work is farmed out to Dublin and Germany and elsewhere in Europe. All of the problems we are facing will be dealt with, with a considerably greater level of confidence and alacrity if we have engaged and bright school leavers who have a belief in a career path that is backed up by meaningful experiences and the right qualifications. Note the word ‘right’, any old degree as per the schools’ mantra simply won’t cut it.
So – if you have a hustings in your area in the next couple of days – get down there, lobby your soon to be MPs with questions about this most grave of oversights and keep your fingers crossed that no matter who gets in will be held to account when it comes to investing in our children’s futures. Because they are your futures too.