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The Careers & Enterprise Company has made excellent progress in its start-up year. It is opening up schools to the world of work and opening up the world of work to schools, which, as all experts agree, is a key ingredient of high-quality careers education and guidance.
I was delighted to meet representatives of the Careers & Enterprise Company recently in my role as chairman of the all-party women and enterprise group. What steps will be taken to ensure that great models and mentors are provided to supplement the company’s work, and that students from all backgrounds are aware of the wealth of opportunities that are available to them once they have left education?
That is an excellent question. In the past, too much emphasis has been placed on one-to-one careers advice, which is often provided too late and not delivered effectively. That is why £70 million has been made available over the current Parliament to fund careers services, including a new national mentoring scheme that will focus on the most disadvantaged. My hon. Friend is absolutely right about mentors, especially for young girls, and especially in relation to STEM subjects and professions.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the old careers service is all too often regarded as a source of mild and gentle humour by people when they remember their schooldays, perhaps because they were approached too late? Is it not enormously important for businesses and, indeed, employers throughout all sectors to offer work experience—and not just to young people, to whom I know many Members offer that here in the House?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Careers advice has long been the punchline for a joke, and many people found that the advice that they were given did not make sense to them at all. In our careers strategy, we are focusing on real, practical employer interactions so that the world of work can go into schools, and so that children can see what is out there, have their passions roused, and work out what is best for them.
The Minister will be delighted, because he has lost the punchline for his joke. He should go easy on the self-congratulation, given that the Government have presided over the disintegration of careers services for young people. Cuts have decimated council-led youth support and Connexions, and the Department has failed to include work experience in the curriculum. No wonder the CBI told it that the careers service was broken. Young people will need that help from the Careers & Enterprise Company to start repairing five years of damage. Will the Minister tell us what resources will be given to volunteer enterprise advisers—after all, only £17 million a year is going to the company—and just how many of them there will be for the thousands of schools and further education colleges that need them?
The hon. Gentleman talks as though there had once been a golden age of careers advice and service, but anyone could tell him that there has never been such a golden age. The missing piece in careers advice and guidance was employer interaction, and that is what the excellent Careers & Enterprise Company is setting up. As part of its strategy, it is rolling out enterprise advisers, and 30 local enterprise partnerships have signed up to be part of that. Every school will have an enterprise co-ordinator to link it to the world of work.