What is it and what does it mean for you?


The DfE’s ‘Careers strategy: making the most of everyone’s skills and talents’, published in December 2017, establishes a series of actions to be taken by schools, government agencies and third parties to improve careers advice for young people.

The guidance states that pupils from working class backgrounds are in particular need of effective and impartial careers provision, but are least likely to receive careers guidance.

The careers strategy states that it will “deliver significant improvements for people of all ages”, adding that “everyone has an important contribution to make if we are to create a level playing field of opportunity and to build a country that works for everyone”.

The current careers offer


Currently, secondary schools, FE colleges and sixth form colleges have a responsibility for arranging independent careers guidance for their pupils.

Schools must make sure that young people receive guidance to understand the range of options available to them. To date, the following steps have been taken to help schools with this duty:

  • In 2012, the National Careers Service was established to provide advice via web chats, email, telephone calls and face-to-face.
  • In 2014, the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) was established to provide schools and employers with careers and enterprise support.
  • Since 2015, Jobcentre Plus (JCP) advisers have been working directly with young people in schools.

The Gatsby Benchmarks 


The Gatsby Benchmarks are eight benchmarks of good careers guidance, developed by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. The Benchmarks are as follows:

  1. A stable careers programme: Every school and college should have a careers programme that is known and understood by the school community.
  2. Learning from career and labour market information: Every pupil and their parents should have access to high-quality information about their future education options and job opportunities.
  3. Addressing the needs of each pupil: Pupils should receive careers guidance differentiated by their stage of education. Advice and support should be tailored to the needs of the pupil, and equality and diversity should always be taken into consideration.
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers: All teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. Teachers of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects should highlight how STEM subjects can lead to a wide range of career paths.
  5. Encounters with employers and employees: Every pupil should be provided with numerous opportunities to learn from employers about the world of work and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be achieved through a range of activities such as visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes.
  6. Experiences of workplaces: Every pupil should have first-hand experience of the workplace through visits, shadowing and/or work experience.
  7. Encounters with further and higher education: Every pupil should understand the full range of learning opportunities available to them, including both academic and vocational routes.
  8. Personal guidance: Whenever significant study or career choices are being made, every pupil should be given the opportunity to take part in a guidance interview with a careers adviser – this could be a member of school staff or an external provider, provided they are trained to an appropriate level.

 Demonstrating progress


The DfE strongly recommends that all schools and colleges work towards the Quality in Careers Standard (a national quality award for careers education, information, advice and guidance) by meeting all eight Gatsby Benchmarks.

The CEC and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation have created the Compass self-assessment tool to help schools compare their careers support against the benchmarks. The CEC is exploring ways of extending Compass to provide the same support to colleges.

The DfE will work with Ofsted to review the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), to consider the inclusion of careers provision as part of planned changes to inspection from September 2019.

A targeted approach for pupils needing more support


The strategy states that careers advice for pupils with SEND is often poor and lacking in aspiration. The DfE is funding the Education and Training Foundation to provide professional development for professionals working with pupils with SEND.

Two sets of online training modules will be developed and freely available to schools, colleges and careers professionals.

The CEC and Gatsby Charitable Foundation will work together to establish good practice advice for supporting pupils with SEND. In addition, enterprise advisers will receive training to allow them to effectively recommend resources to design a careers programme that supports pupils with SEND.

Schools and colleges should support disadvantaged pupils with their choices: advising those who choose an academic route on the most appropriate subject choices, and those who choose a technical route on the most appropriate courses to take.

Key actions for January 2018


The following actions are to take place in or before January 2018:

  • The DfE will publish statutory guidance on meeting Gatsby Benchmarks in January 2018.
  • Schools and colleges will use the Gatsby Benchmarks and associated guidance to improve their careers provision.
  • Schools will give providers of technical education and apprenticeships opportunities to speak to their pupils.
  • Ofsted will comment in college inspection reports on the careers guidance offered to pupils.

The key actions to take place by September 2018


The following actions are to take place by September 2018:

  • The CEC will launch a £5 million investment fund to support the most disadvantaged pupils.
  • Schools will publish details of their careers provision for pupils and their parents.
  • Job specifications and standards for ‘careers leaders’ will be developed for use in schools and colleges.
  • Every school and college will name a careers leader to lead their careers provision, and publish the name and contact details of their careers leader on their website.
  • The CEC will “take a broader role” across the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • The government will fund 20 “careers hubs” and sponsor two UK Career Development Awards.

The key actions to take place in 2018-19


The following actions are to take place during 2018-19:

  • The CEC will triple the number of “cornerstone employers” working with schools and colleges to 150.
  • New approaches to careers provision will be tested and evaluated to:
  • Encourage pupils, especially girls, to consider roles in STEM subjects.
  • Understand what works well in primary schools.
  • Improve advice for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
  • The CEC will provide schools and colleges with tools to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks.
  • Careers leader training will be funded in 500 schools and colleges.
  • More information about T-levels will be provided to pupils, parents and professionals.
  • Universities will be asked to do more to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds make good use of their careers services.
  • New contracts will be secured for the National Careers Service.
  • Career Learning Pilots will be reviewed and evaluated.
  • Application forms will be standardised and tested, to make it easier for pupils to apply to further education.
  • Pupil destination data will be “widely available and easily understandable by people of all ages”.

The key actions to take place by 2020


The following actions are to take place by 2020:

  • All schools and colleges will be provided access to an ‘enterprise adviser’.
  • Schools will offer every young person seven encounters with employers – at least one a year from Year 7 to Year 13. Some of these encounters should be with STEM employers.
  • A new National Careers Service website will be launched to help pupils make informed choices.

The DfE has also stated that it is considering whether PSHE should be mandatory in schools, but no timeframe has been mentioned in the guidance.

What’s next?

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Find out more about effective careers guidance using our Careers and Apprenticeships Resource Pack, including information on promoting careers education in your school, encouraging different career options, and advice on preparing pupils with SEND for adulthood.

Our Careers Advisor Job Description provides schools with a template job description for a careers advisor role.

Access our guidance on provider access and provider access policy statement template to learn more about your responsibilities and publish your statement in minutes.

Good practice advice and an evaluation tool, created as a result of a two-year pilot programme with 16 schools and colleges, can be accessed here

Read the full Careers Strategy here.