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Impartial careers advice and guidance to young people aged 14-16 years provided by Careers Wales advisers

In May 2022, we published our thematic on the careers advice provided by Careers Wales advisers. Our report draws on visits to a sample of secondary schools, special schools, pupil referral units (PRU) and education other than at school (EOTAS) across Wales to observe one-to-one guidance sessions between Careers Wales advisers and young people. We also spoke to young people, teachers, careers advisers and Careers Wales leaders and managers.

Our recommendations

Careers Wales should:

  1. Develop systems and appropriate criteria to evaluate the impact that services have on the effectiveness and resilience of young people’s career planning and decision-making
  2. Ensure that effective evaluation, based on accurate, comprehensive and relevant evidence, informs strategic planning and quality improvement
  3. Strengthen links with other careers companies to improve opportunities for professional learning and developing good practice
  4. Continue to ensure that analysis from quality assurance activities is fed back to individual schools to strengthen careers and work-related education
  5. Ensure that all staff promote young people’s awareness of the value of the Welsh language as an employment skill
  6. Ensure that all staff understand the company’s arrangements and procedures for the safeguarding of young people

What did our thematic survey say?

We found most of the young people eligible for a guidance session at the schools and settings we visited make good progress from their differing starting points when creating their plans for the future. They discuss their ideas and respond well to questions and challenges posed when a plan may seem risky. Where young people begin their guidance session with unrealistic plans and ideas, this usually stems from a lack of support from their school or setting. Following guidance, these young people make very good progress towards understanding the post-16 routes available to them.

We saw most careers advisers were well-prepared for their guidance sessions, particularly where they have well established relationships with providers, and they share key information. Advisers are effective and provide clear and appropriate advice for next steps for young people to carry out. Specialist additional learning needs (ALN) advisers support young people with ALN in their transition planning and have a comprehensive understanding of education, employment and training opportunities. However, the Welsh Government has not yet identified how Careers Wales will work with local authorities to provide this support under the reformed ALN system. While careers advisers understand schools’ protocols for safeguarding and can name their school’s designated safeguarding person (DSP), a minority are less clear about the company’s protocols and DSP.

Careers Wales’ Brighter Futures vision (Careers Wales, 2021) aims to target the young people most in need of independent advice and guidance to make informed choices. However, we found it is not always clear how leaders and managers plan to measure impact and effectiveness of their services and overall strategy. For example, they do not analyse the proportion of young people who drop out of their post-16 progression option before completing their goal, nor is there a clear strategy to improve young people’s levels of engagement. Overall, the company’s processes for evaluating the impact of its services are underdeveloped with too much focus on client satisfaction and no analysis of what impact the service has on improving young peoples’ career planning and decision-making. This impedes the company’s ability to base improvement planning on a reliable or rigorous analysis of its service strengths and areas for improvement.