Careers Service (Young People)

Part of Opposition Day — [20th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:41 pm on 13th September 2011.

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Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Labour, Darlington 8:41 pm, 13th September 2011

There are issues with Connexions, and if I am able to deliver the rest of my speech I will come on to that.

Satisfaction with Connexions varies a great deal, and the Minister rightly pointed out that its careers advice was lacking. In his report, Alan Milburn observed that only one in five young people questioned on the issue found that the careers advice offered by Connexions was satisfactory. That situation is not sustainable, and we should not put up with it. My objection is that the only young people who will receive guaranteed, face-to-face, top-notch, good-quality careers advice are those in fee-paying schools, which no one in the House should tolerate, regardless of their political affiliation, background or education.

The issue is not just the life chances of individual young people, although it certainly includes that, and I am sure that will be the main focus of debate. This is about economic regeneration. My constituency has an engineering heritage and I have some very large engineering companies. I am thinking of Cummins, which makes engines. I do not understand fully what the company does, but I know the engines come in a range of colours. The careers advice and guidance that I was given, growing up in a town with such a strong engineering heritage, was about the public sector, health care and social sciences. Nobody ever spoke to me about taking maths, about a career in engineering, about getting into technology—nothing. Not very much has changed in that respect.