Careers services and information

There is plenty of advice for young people as they embark on the first steps of their career journey, and we’ve rounded it up here.

What are the available services? 

In England, the National Careers Service (NCS) and the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC) currently work together to deliver high-quality, free and impartial careers advice and information. Their remits are slightly different with the NCS offering careers advice and information to anyone over the age of 13 and the CEC supporting schools and colleges to deliver careers education. 

The NCS offers:

  • Access to an adviser via phone, email, webchat or text or a call back if preferred
  • Information via the NCS website, including job profiles, course finder, CV builder and help with the application/​interview process, apprenticeship information, labour market information and a skills health check (exploring their skills, interests or motivations)
  • Questions answered via social media with a Q&A session on Twitter (Wednesday 2–4pm) and Facebook (Wednesday 7–9pm)

They can then follow up with a careers adviser via their school to discuss any options of interest.

In Northern Ireland, the Careers Service offers impartial information and guidance to young people and adults. Their services can be accessed online, by phone or there are a number of local offices that can provide advice in person.

In Wales, Careers Wales provides all-age support with identifying next steps, finding courses, training or apprenticeship opportunities and searching job vacancies. Advice can be given over the phone, via webchat, email or in person at one of the regional offices. 

What are the Gatsby benchmarks? 

The eight Gatsby benchmarks are part of the Government’s careers strategy and set the standards for careers guidance in secondary schools and colleges in England.

They were established as part of Sir John Holman’s research into what pragmatic actions could improve career guidance in England. Based on international best practice, they set out what a world-class career guidance system looks like. The benchmarks are part of the careers strategy (launched December 2017) and statutory guidance for secondary schools and colleges since 2018 since 2018.

The benchmarks are: 

  1. A stable careers programme
  2. Learning from career and labour market information
  3. Addressing the needs of each student
  4. Linking curriculum learning (subjects) to careers
  5. Encounters with employers and employees
  6. Experience in a workplace
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Individual careers guidance

Other parts of the strategy include working more closely with employers, ensuring people can get tailored support (i.e. individual careers guidance) and making the most of labour market information.

This video by the Gatsby Foundation explains the origins of the Gatsby benchmarks, the pilot and the transformational impact of the benchmarks on careers programmes across the region.

Skills for Jobs 

Skills for Jobs is a white paper outlining Government changes to post-16 technical education and training. The reforms are designed to give both young people starting their careers and adults thinking of retraining or returning to education the chance to develop the skills they need to get good jobs, in a way that suits them. 

It’s also hoped it will change the perception that a degree is the only way to success and a good job. 

The white paper has five key aims:

1. Put employers at the heart of post-16 skills

Employers will have a central role in designing almost all technical courses by 2030, so that the education and training people receive is directly linked to the skills needed for real jobs, and business groups will work alongside colleges to develop tailored skills plans to meet local training needs.

2. Provide advanced technical and higher technical skills

New qualifications will boost the quality and uptake of Higher Technical courses.

3. Put in place a flexible Lifetime Skills Guarantee

Changes to the law from 2025 will allow people to access flexible student finance to train and retrain throughout their lives.

4. Simplify and reform funding and accountability for providers

Funding and accountability rules will ensure funding is better targeted and introduce new powers to intervene when colleges are failing to deliver.

5. Support outstanding teaching

A nationwide campaign will recruit talented individuals to teach in further education and invest in high-quality professional development.