Careers Service (Young People)

Part of Opposition Day — [20th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 13th September 2011.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Election Co-ordinator) 7:15 pm, 13th September 2011

He saw his Prime Minister make a personal promise to those young people that they would continue to have their EMA. He also stood on a manifesto promising £200 million for an all-age careers service. If he could not deliver those promises, should he not now apologise to the House for seeking the votes of young people in his constituency on a false premise? That speaks for itself.

Our motion is deliberately broad so that we do not get drawn into a debate about the merits of one service versus another. I have said that we are prepared to support the Government in their vision for an all-age careers service. We want to work with the Government to make that service as good as it can be so that it is fit for purpose in these times and for the challenges facing young people. The motion is simple, then, and makes two requests. I might say in passing that it is drawn directly from the report, published in the summer, to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister from the advocate for access to education, Simon Hughes, who I am pleased to see in his place. In fact, the motion repeats the words of his recommendation verbatim. I hope, therefore, that he can support us this evening, given that the motion is his own recommendation—but I know now not to come to any such conclusions where he is concerned.

Our motion makes two simple requests to the House. First, as Members of Parliament standing up for young people in our constituencies, we ask the Government Front-Bench team to get a grip on this mess—[Interruption.]—to stop messing around on their BlackBerrys and to stop going off to attend other events around the country. They need to get a grip on this mess, publish the transition plan, show some leadership for once in their lives and get on with the job of standing up for young people. Secondly, we want the House to send a clear message that we have high expectations of what we expect all young people in this country to get and that we want them to have face-to-face advice.

We hear that the Government want to downgrade the quality of careers advice to a phone or web-based service. The national careers service will be a phone or web-based service! It seems that this cost-cutting drive has been partly driven by the raid on the careers budget, to which my hon. Friend Derek Twigg alluded, which the Government made having been forced to make a partial U-turn over EMA. I want every Member to ask themselves whether they think that a remote and impersonal phone or web service is good enough. Would that be good enough for their own children when they are making life-changing choices and considering their options?