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Enabling people to take the right step in their career

Submitted by on 23 Nov 2010 – 09:43

By John Hayes, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning

Our skills are among the most powerful attributes we have at our disposal. The right skills make a vital contribution to economic growth, so they are important to us as a nation. They are also important to us as individuals. They enhance our quality of life, whether by increasing our income, our employability, or simply our personal satisfaction.

Making the right decisions about our skills and careers isn’t always easy, particularly in times when money is tight and jobs are scarce. Even making the decision to seek out information and advice is a hurdle that some find difficult to overcome.

We believe that the best way to build a competitive skills base in this country is to have informed and empowered learners at the heart of a flexible and responsive skills system. That means providing professional and impartial careers guidance which draws on empirical information on the job market and the skills that employers are looking for; and delivering it in ways that ensure nobody feels excluded.

This August we launched the new Next Step service for adults. Next Step will help individuals to set their career and life goals and aspirations, understand their starting point in terms of the skills and personal attributes they have, and what they need to do to meet their needs and ambitions.  Next Step phone and face-to-face services are in place and ready to help people, and a new website will be added to Next Step in the coming months. This more integrated approach will give everyone a choice of how they seek out the advice they need.

Many will choose to access the service online. The new website will offer rich content about careers, skills and the labour market, including a new directory of courses. We believe this will provide particular help to those who are less sure about how to get the best from their learning options and the labour market. The site will also offer a skills health check which will enable people to identify their strengths and skills gaps and help them plan what they need to do to achieve their career goals. And it will integrate information and advice on learning opportunities with advice on financial support for learners, tackling a major barrier to participation.

All of these resources will also be available by telephone and face to face, with additional expert guidance from professional careers advisers.

By logging into a part of the website called “my Next Step”, users will be able to access a record of the qualifications they have gained, as well as manage their plans for learning and career development.

But we will not stop at this. We want to build on Next Step to empower people, encouraging more and more to build learning into their life.

Careers guidance will remain central to the Coalition Government’s strategy for helping young people and adults progress in their lives. My appointment as Minister for careers guidance across both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education is a significant step, and I hope to be able to share our plans for the future of guidance services for young people and adults following the comprehensive spending review.