It is vital that women can access good quality careers guidance throughout their working lives. The National Careers Service provides more than 1 million people annually with impartial and professional careers information to help them enter work or learning. Priority groups, including women returners and the low-skilled, can also receive in-depth face-to-face guidance with a qualified careers advisor.
I greatly welcome that initiative and I am delighted that BP has also pledged to work with schools under the Your Life campaign as part of a wider call to action for business to boost girls’ participation in engineering and technology. As my hon. Friend says, inspiring young people—particularly girls—to choose STEM careers is a key challenge for our economy.
The European Union recently decided to dictate to this country that we have too many women not in work who are staying at home to look after their children. Does the Minister think it wrong that the EU should stigmatise women who want to stay at home and work, and would she like to tell the European Union to butt out?
With particular reference to consideration of careers in all sectors of the economy—not that I wish to suggest that the hon. Gentleman is seeking to shoehorn into this matter his own particular preoccupation with British approaches to the European Union. Far be it from me to suggest anything of the kind.
I shall take your direction, Mr Speaker, and say that we are talking about choice of careers, and that choice of course extends to women staying at home and looking after their families. We want women to be able to make that choice, as well as fathers, as often it will be they who stay at home. I am tempted by my hon. Friend’s invitation to speak to the European Union. I might change the language, but I think I will take him up on his offer.