Labour pledges to ‘turbocharge’ careers advice for one million pupils

Labour has pledged to “turbocharge” careers advice and work experience in schools to combat skills shortages in the workplace.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said the plans would facilitate “a revolution in work readiness”.

As part of the party’s plans to partner with businesses across the country, Labour has committed to delivering two weeks’ worth of quality work experience for every young person and recruit more than 1,000 new careers advisers.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson (centre right) during a visit to a school in Northamptonshire, while on the General Election campaign trail
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson (centre right) walk with pupils during a visit to a school in Northamptonshire, while on the General Election campaign trail (Jacob King/PA)

The party says this would build partnerships between schools, colleges and local employers to equip young people with work-ready skills.

Labour analysis estimates one million children are at risk of receiving inadequate information about the jobs and opportunities available to them over the next five years if the Conservatives remain in power.

According to a report from the Children’s Commissioner, more than one-in-three children at secondary school report they do not know enough about good jobs available to them as they get older and leave school.

Labour has claimed if this figure persists over the next five years, nearly 1.2 million children will receive inadequate information, further compounding skills shortages in key sectors and leaving hundreds of thousands of young people classed as not in employment, education or training (Neet).

Since 2018, the annual number of 16 to 18-year-olds classed as Neet has increased by 50,000, with 167,000 not in work, education or training, and it is Labour’s belief that professional advice and guidance for young people is essential to tackling this.

Last year, a report by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee found careers guidance at school on the creative sector was “patchy and disjointed”, potentially putting at risk an industry worth around £126 billion to the UK economy.

Ms Phillipson said: “Over one million young people are set to benefit from Labour ushering in a revolution in work readiness with our plan to work with local employers to turbocharge work experience and careers advice in schools.

“We will train 1,000 new careers advisers and deliver two weeks’ worth of high-quality work experience for every young person at secondary school to boost opportunity.

“It’s time to turn the page on 14 years of failure in education – but change will only come if people vote for it – that’s why if families want to break down barriers to opportunity for their children they need to vote Labour on July 4.”

Labour’s commitment to careers advice and work experience is part of the party’s wider plan to establish a “youth guarantee” of access to training, an apprenticeship or support to find work for all 18 to 21-year-olds.

A 2022 employer skills survey from the Department for Education found 36% of job vacancies were related to skills shortages, an increase of 16% from 2017.

The sectors most highly impacted by skills shortages included health and social work, hospitality, education and manufacturing.

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said access to high-quality careers advice and work experience placements can “make a real difference” to the lives of young people.

She said: “It’s good to see Labour aiming to ensure more pupils can benefit from this support.

“What we now need to hear is how exactly this ambition will be achieved.

“Currently many schools and colleges lack the time, staffing and resources needed to organise and provide work experience opportunities.

“It is also challenging to find a sufficient number of employers willing to offer placements while local careers advice services were severely cut back from 2010 onwards.

“There is a lot of rebuilding to be done.

“To ensure this works well for pupils, schools and colleges, and employers, there needs to be a joined-up strategy that clearly sets out who is responsible and accountable for provision and how this is going to be funded.”