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Government's new Careers Strategy: what does it mean for employer engagement in schools?

by Anna Turner, our Creative Development Coordinator


In December 2017, the Department of Education released their long-awaited Careers Strategy. It’s a document that will form the basis of how external bodies like Ofsted will assess schools’ ability to meet their obligations to prepare young people for the world of work.

We work in partnership with businesses at a local and national level, to ensure young people are afforded the opportunity to meet professionals from all industries and walks of life. As such, we want all our volunteers to understand what this new strategy means for them, and how their work will be valued by schools going forwards.

Starting this month, all schools will be required to use the Gatsby Benchmarks as a guide for achieving an excellent programme of careers activity that best serves all their pupils. The Gatsby Benchmarks consist of eight identifying markers of good careers provision in schools. The Benchmarks are:

  1. A stable careers programme
  2. Learning from careers and labour market information
  3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
  5. Encounters with employers and employees
  6. Experiences of workplaces
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance

If you’ve been involved in Ahead Partnership activities you may well recognise some of these Benchmarks as features of your own volunteering experiences. It’s because of our dedicated team of volunteers – who get involved in everything from mentoring to judging enterprise competitions and offering young people the chance to visit a real workplace – that we are able to help schools offer their students a careers programme which seeks to meet all eight of these criteria.

January 2018 also sees the implementation of another important pillar of this new Careers Strategy: Ofsted will now be required to comment on careers provision in every college report they conduct. This will help to ensure that careers education remains high on the agenda for all education providers.

The government’s new Careers Strategy introduces many new measures that serve to highlight the value employers bring when they engage with schools and colleges to enrich the learning of young people. For example, the strategy declares that by 2020 all schools and colleges should be able to offer at least one encounter with employers per year for every student. This affirms the importance of face-to-face encounters with role-models from the world of work, which can work in tandem with other sources of advice and information such as classroom resources and digital hubs.

All schools and colleges will also be required to appoint a careers lead that will be named on their website. This means that careers and employability will be at the centre of not just the ethos and values of the very best schools, but in the day-to-day operations and staffing structure of every school and college.

In response to the new Careers Strategy, schools and colleges will also be compelled to publish details of their careers programme on their own website. This will be a radical step towards transparency and accountability: allowing parents, guardians and other interested parties easy access to information about how young people are prepared for the world of work. 

These new requirements have the potential to transform how education providers value and promote the contributions employers and business volunteers make towards the culture of schools and colleges. The new Careers Strategy offers positive opportunities for schools to showcase the brilliant work they are so often already doing, along with straightforward ways to identify areas where their commitment to providing quality careers education could be strengthened further.

As of 5 January 2018, the statutory guidance for schools has been updated to reflect the changes and direction-of-travel laid out in the government’s new Careers Strategy.


Find out how we know our Make the Grade programme works for young people and employers on our Why it Works page, or follow us on Twitter for all our latest news >> 

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