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

Fantastic! I am all for that. That is marvellous, but is it happening in every school in the country? Of course not. I have some brilliant engineering businesses which go into schools and inspire young people. They try to point young people in the right direction and show them that there are wonderful careers for them on their doorstep—international careers—but young people need more than a visit from such a company. They need proper face-to-face advice from people who will inspire them.

The businesses in Darlington to which I referred are recruiting senior engineers from Greece, Brazil and Turkey, because we are not producing the people to fill those senior roles. One reason for that is that people are not getting the right advice at the right age. I am not talking just about 16 and FE. I am talking about year 6 in primary school, before they take their options, so that they know that they have to take good science subjects and maths. I am glad to see Damian Hinds agreeing with me. Such careers advice will not happen via Google. It needs to be face-to-face, inspiring advice.

I am fortunate to have in Darlington the Queen Elizabeth sixth-form college. I shall shamelessly plug the work of one woman, Stella Barnes, who provides first-class careers advice to young people there. I am sure that despite the pressures that it faces, the college will find the funding to keep Stella doing such fantastic work, but that is one woman and she can only do so much.

In the turbulent world that our young people are entering, job prospects are not certain, the costs of higher education are putting people off, and EMA no longer incentivises young people to stay on post-16. That applies not only to the at-risk, the vulnerable, the people who would not have a job if their mother had not organised something for them. It applies to all young people from all kinds of backgrounds. It is not just about the children of people on benefits. It is about people whose parents are in professional careers but who lack the wherewithal to open other doors—people like myself.

The biggest shame is that the Government have over-promised on what they will do. When they said that there would be an all-age careers service, people took them at their word. They thought that that meant the same for everybody and that it would be fair, but that is not what we will find. Adults can get face-to-face advice, because the Government rightly recognise that they need it, so why can young people not get it? They need it more than anyone else. They need someone to look them in the eye, work out their personal circumstances, listen to their hopes, dreams and aspirations, perhaps give them some if they do not have any, and work out the best thing for them. Otherwise, we are leaving young people stranded.