Evidence submitted by Tristram Hooley, Professor of Career Education


This submission sets out the case for supporting career education and guidance, summarises the current situation in schools and colleges and makes recommendations for the committee to consider.

Key points are as follows:

Suggested improvements

Government could

improve coherence by…

increase capacity by…

Publishing a national career guidance guarantee for all citizens

Requiring career education to begin in primary school

Developing a national lifelong strategy for career guidance

Mainstreaming careers into the curriculum and addressing careers as part of initial teacher education and teacher CPD

Raising the profile of career education and guidance for the population

Recognising, training and supporting careers leaders

Reviewing existing funding and agencies to look for places where efficiencies could be increased, overlaps removed and gaps plugged

Providing developmental funding for schools and colleges to drive their careers programmes forwards

Strengthening the statutory guidance for schools and colleges

Funding personal guidance and ensuring that it is delivered by professionals

Strengthening and clarifying the quality assurance framework for careers

Ensuring that employer engagement and work experience are appropriately resourced

Ensuring that all schools and colleges are part of a Careers Hub

Increasing funding for local authorities and the National Careers Service to provide career guidance to NEET young people and others outside of the education system.

About me

I am Professor of Career Education at the University of Derby. I also hold Professorial roles at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and Canterbury Christ Church University. In the past I have been Director of Research for The Careers & Enterprise Company and Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers.

I have a long history of involvement in career education and guidance in the UK and overseas. I was involved in supporting Professor Sir John Holman in the original research behind the Gatsby Benchmarks and I have worked with governments, international bodies, employers, education providers and practitioners to develop and enhance the provision of career guidance.

In this submission I will set out how I see the current environment for career education and guidance and make some suggestions for evidence-based ways forward. I have provided endnotes for this submission in case the Committee are interested in looking further at the underpinning evidence.

I would be happy to be called to provide oral evidence to the committee.

Career and why it matters

Career describes our pathway through life, learning and work.[i] It is how we make a difference in the world and how we balance the competing demands on our time. Paid work is central to our career, but so too are the choices that we make about which learning pathway to pursue. Career is also how we achieve work/life balance and wellbeing as it addresses how individuals manage their work and learning in relation to their leisure, involvement in family and community and the role that they play as a citizen.

Societies and economies rely on careers and benefit when citizens manage their careers well. When our careers flourish, we are able to give more to society, including economic returns such as improved productivity and increased tax returns.[ii] But the impact of our careers is not confined to the economic sphere, it is also intertwined in family life, in the effective functioning of the education system, in the, often unequal, distribution of opportunities in society, in our health, in the environment and in the quest for a fair and peaceful society.[iii] When individuals are able to make good choices about their education and training, access decent work, balance their various responsibilities and develop and progress throughout life, we have well-functioning societies.

Despite the importance of career, it is rarely viewed as a key concern for the education system. Career requires skills, knowledge and aptitudes to successfully manage and develop, yet it is often assumed that such capabilities are intrinsic or acquired naturally. Such an assumption is dangerous because those who come from more advantaged backgrounds and who have more access to information, experiences and opportunities are typically able to gain control of their careers more rapidly and manage them without any instruction or formal help in decoding the ‘rules’ of career.[iv]

Career education and guidance

Career education and guidance supports individuals and groups to discover more about work, leisure and learning and to consider their place in the world and plan for their futures.[v] It helps individuals to make learning choices, to find and keep work and then to manage their working lives as part of their broader lives. It can take many forms including education in the curriculum, one-to-one counselling interventions, experiential learning and the provision of information or online services.

Career education and guidance contributes to a wide range of public policy goals including supporting the effective functioning of the economy and the labour market and education system and contributing to social mobility, social equity, health and wellbeing, positive environmental behaviour and justice and rehabilitation.[vi] Helping individuals to understand how to integrate into society, play a positive role, use their talents and achieve success should be a win-win proposition with benefits variously derived by individuals, communities, businesses and national governments.

The benefits associated with career education and guidance have been brought into sharper relief by the pandemic. In a situation in which individuals are likely to have more challenging transitions, need to make a greater number of unexpected job moves and in which the labour market is highly unpredictable, it is important to be able to effectively manage your career and access support where needed.[vii] As a result many countries have been investing in their career services and seeking to develop services in the light of the challenges presented by the pandemic.[viii]

Despite its clear value, the delivery of career education and guidance is often beset with problems. Their lifelong and transversal nature (helping people to move from one stage of life to the next), means that their funding, delivery, and governance are often fragmented. As career guidance contributed to multiple policy aims it is often of interest to multiple parts of government.[ix] In practice it is common for career education and guidance to be funded and delivered as part of education policy (with additional variations within vocational education and higher education) and employment policy as well further services existing in other policy domains e.g. health and justice. Given the complexity of this policy and delivery landscape international policy guidance recommends that to maximise the effectiveness of career services, governments need to develop a lifelong, cross-governmental strategy and strong mechanisms for co-operation and co-ordination.[x]

The career guidance system in England

The organisation of career education and guidance is devolved to the different UK nations. This means that there are four distinct systems in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In many ways the system that exists in England is the weakest and most fragmented of these systems. The Committee may be interested to explore how the systems work in the other parts of the UK. However, in this submission I will focus on England.

Career guidance is not just of concern to young people. The National Careers Service delivers career guidance for adults and at present has only limited connections to the support available for young people.[xi] This disconnect between youth and adult careers services is concerning and is part of the focus of the current Holman review.[xii] 

There are also careers services available to students in higher education which probably also fall outside of the scope of this review, and career guidance related services which are available through the public employment service (Jobcentre Plus), trade unions (Union Learn), professional associations, employers and through the private sector. In a well-designed system users would understand the full range of services available and be able to select those that were most appropriate to them. There would also be careful attention to the joins, gaps and overlaps that exist within this system. At present this array of fragmented services is poorly signposted, confusing to end users and leaves large and important gaps for sections of the population who are unable to access any help with their careers.

The system for young people

Young people are most likely to receive career education and guidance from their school or college. Following legislative changes in 2011 schools and colleges assumed responsibility for the provision of career guidance.[xiii] This period saw the existing Connexions Service being dismantled with little thought as to what would be put in its place. This was highly damaging, leading to a rapid decrease in the quality and quantity of provision.[xiv] Given this it is important that any future changes to the system are made carefully with provision being evolved slowly and institutional expertise and memory being actively preserved.

One of the biggest casualties of the closure of Connexions was the loss of a system of support for young people outside of the formal education system. While some limited provision still exists for these young people such provision is fragmented and reliant on a mix of local authority, third sector and ad hoc provision. This includes young people who are not in education, employment and training (NEET), but also the increasing numbers of young people who are home schooled[xv] and in various forms of alternative provision. There is clearly a need to clarify and improve provision for these highly vulnerable groups of young people.

At present therefore your best chance of accessing career education and guidance is through your school or college. The system as it currently exists is complex but has some merits and a basis in evidence. It might be possible to summarise it, in ideal form, as follows.

The English model of career education and guidance

Inside the school or college

Outside the school or college

The delivery of career guidance is a statutory requirement based on the approach described in the Government’s statutory guidance[xvi].


The programme delivered should meet the requirements of the eight Gatsby Benchmarks[xvii] and include a statement of the learning outcomes that students will achieve such as that contained within the Career Development Framework.[xviii]


The programme should be led by the Careers Leader[xix], involve other teachers[xx] in the delivery of careers content in the curriculum and a careers professional[xxi] (qualified to at least level 6) in providing advice and guidance.

The Careers & Enterprise Company[xxii] provides strategic leadership, support and brokerage to aid the development of career education and guidance in schools and colleges.


In each locality The Careers & Enterprise Company aims to establish a Careers Hub[xxiii] which brings together key local stakeholders such as the LEPs, local authorities and key employers and third sector organisations to support and enhance provision in schools.


The Careers and Enterprise company also has responsibility for funding a range of training programmes for Careers Leaders and for developing resources to be used in schools.[xxiv]

Quality assurance

The definition of what constitutes ‘good career guidance’ is based on the Gatsby Benchmarks. Schools can self-assess against this framework using The Careers & Enterprise Company’s Compass and Compass + tools.[xxv] Further quality assurance is provided by the voluntary Quality in Careers Standard.[xxvi] Ofsted also inspect careers provision, although it is not always a main focus of inspections.[xxvii]


In addition to the elements set out in the model above it is also worth noting that there are a range of other services and provision which intersects with the provision of career education and guidance in schools. This may include national programmes to widen participation in higher education such as the National Collaborative Outreach programme[xxviii], programmes run by LEPs and local authorities and those run by employers either as part of recruitment or corporate social responsibility activities. Where this works well, such provision is often coordinated by the Careers Hubs, but the Hubs remain emergent with a limited capacity to address the wide variety of approaches that exist across the England. Inevitably this means that the entitlement to and quality of career education and guidance is subject to something of a postcode lottery.

At the heart of this system are the Gatsby Benchmarks which emerged out of international best practice and a review of the evidence by Sir John Holman supported by colleagues from the University of Derby, including myself. The Gatsby Benchmarks remind us that there is no single magic bullet that can ensure that young people successfully transition into further learning or work and build successful careers, but there are a range of elements of a programme which when they are done well lead to effective provision. The Benchmarks organise this into eight clear elements including things like schools having an clear and well communicated careers programme, embedding careers into the curriculum, providing work experience and one-to-one career counselling (personal guidance) to all students.

In subsequent research my colleagues and I have demonstrated that students who receive more Gatsby provision report greater readiness for their career.[xxix] This means that they are more likely to agree that they know where to look for information, better able to identify their strengths and weaknesses, make choices, remain resilient in the face of setbacks and find a career that fits. Other evidence from The Careers & Enterprise Company shows that every Gatsby Benchmark a school achieves increases the odds of a student being in education, employment or training by 1.5%.[xxx] The Gatsby Benchmarks provide a workable summary of what constitutes good practice in this area and one which has been demonstrated to have a clear link on both students’ attitudes and their labour market outcomes. However, in order to successfully implement the Gatsby Benchmarks a broader set of systems have to be in place both within and beyond the school as set out in the model above.

It is also worth noting that the Gatsby Benchmarks were designed for secondary education. Since its publication there has been considerable work on the importance of career education in primary school.[xxxi] Young people develop much of their career identity and aspirations before they arrive at secondary school and so it is important to engage them in thinking and learning as early as possible. The development of a range of resource for primary schools by The Careers & Enterprise Company is a useful step forwards, but implementation and engagement in primary schools remains very limited.[xxxii]

Is the system working?

For those schools and colleges where the current system works well this model is effective in delivering high quality career guidance. However, it only working well for a minority of schools. On average schools are only meeting half of the Gatsby Benchmarks with less than half reporting that they can offer a stable careers programme (43%), address the needs of all students (38%), offer experiences of workplaces (36%) or offer the required range of encounters with further and higher education (33%).[xxxiii]

There are also too many schools (35%) who are unable to offer pupils access to professional career guidance and are either failing to give students any personalised career support or are relying on unqualified teachers or other staff to deliver personal guidance. There is a strong consensus that careers advice/personal guidance is a professional activity and that careers professionals should be qualified to at least level six (degree level or equivalent) in career guidance.[xxxiv] While parents, employers, teachers and a range of other career informants can play an important role in supporting the career development of young people, these forms of support are additional to, and supported by, professional career guidance.

The current system has its origins in the publication of the Good Career Guidance report in 2014 and the subsequent launch of The Careers & Enterprise Company in 2015. These two developments have been critical with real progress being made since then. But the fact that six years after the publication of the Gatsby report the average school or college is still not meeting half of the Benchmarks is disappointing. We know what works with respect to career education and guidance, but the average school is still unable to deliver it.

In the current system no funding goes directly to schools to deliver career education and guidance. The funding that does exist in the system is provided to The Careers & Enterprise Company (c.£30 million) who play an important role in increasing the coherence of the system, connecting schools to each other and to employers and learning providers and in developing resources to support provision in schools and colleges. However, there is currently no funding in the system for the actual delivery of career guidance to young people.

Before 2011, the government provided over £200 million in annual funding for the delivery of career guidance.[xxxv] A recent study of careers provision in Scotland[xxxvi] identified that Scotland was spending around £160 per young person-per-year (0-24) on careers. If this formula was applied to young people in England (under the age of 25) it would require a budget of over £2 billion.[xxxvii] Even if this was only applied to pupils in state funded secondary schools this would still need between £56 and £87 million.[xxxviii] Finally, calculations by PWC in 2014 estimated that it would cost between £173 million and £207 million to deliver the Gatsby Benchmarks in UK schools.[xxxix] In summary the current spending on career guidance is wildly under-funded when it is compared to historical funding, international comparators or to the costs required to deliver the model that is advocated by government policy. It is very likely that the current state of practice is as good as it can get given the current (inadequate) level of funding.

An important question for the Committee to ask is who is not getting high quality careers provision both in terms of schools and individuals. The Careers & Enterprise Company will have insights to share about the patterning of access to the Gatsby Benchmarks by school type, region and other relevant characteristics. It is also important to look at who does and does not get access to provision within schools. The fact that in many schools careers is viewed more as an enrichment activity than as a core element of the curriculum may mean that disadvantaged and struggling students have less opportunity to access it.

What should Government do?

The existing system in England falls considerably short of the kind of world class system imagined in Gatsby’s Good Career Guidance report and in other international reviews of the evidence in this area. In many ways we have developed a strong model for delivery in schools and colleges, but it suffers from challenges of fragmentation and challenges of capacity. I will address these two issues in turn.

Challenges of fragmentation

The career education and guidance system in England is fragmented with multiple duplications and overlaps, gaps and omissions.

In compulsory education, The Careers & Enterprise Company provides necessary national leadership and co-ordination for the system. There is a need for an organisation which plays this role, serving as a guiding light for good practice and acting as a middle tier between national policy and the activities of individual schools. The Careers & Enterprise Company’s Enterprise Adviser Network and Careers Hubs have helped to increase coherence locally, but it is underpowered both in terms of resourcing and authority to achieve the level of coherence that is needed.

Recent work on the career guidance system in Scotland, where the current system is considerably more coherent, recommended the creation of a careers ecosystem and explored international evidence about how this could be achieved.[xl] There is a similar need to take active steps to improve the functioning of the system in England.

The government should improve the coherence of the system by…

Challenges of capacity

A substantial review of the fragmentation of the system could produce enormous benefit and enhance the career guidance system in England. However, there are also a range of elements of this system which need additional support and resourcing. It is likely that without new resources the system cannot get much better.

Government could increase capacity by…




[i] McCash, P., Hooley, T. & Robertson, P.J. (2021). Introduction: Rethinking career development. In P.J. Robertson, T. Hooley, & P. McCash (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of career development (pp.1-19). Oxford University Press.

[ii] Percy, C. & Dodd, V. (2021). The economic outcomes of career development programmes. In P. Robertson, T. Hooley, & P. McCash. (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of career development (pp. 35-48). Oxford University Press.

[iii] Robertson, P.J. (2021). The aims of career development policy: Towards a comprehensive framework. In P.J. Robertson, T. Hooley, & P. McCash (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of career development (pp.113-128). Oxford University Press.

[iv] Percy, C. & Kashefpakdel, E. (2019). Social advantage, access to employers and the role of schools in modern British education. In T. Hooley, R.G. Sultana, & R. Thomsen (Eds.). Career guidance for emancipation. Reclaiming justice for the multitude. Routledge.

[v] Hooley, T., Sultana, R.G. & Thomsen, R. (2018). Career guidance for social justice. London: Routledge.

[vi] Robertson, P. (2020). Public policy for career guidance: Imagining a more ambitious agenda. Career guidance for social justice.

[vii] Hooley, T. (2020). A global pandemic and its aftermath: The way forward for career guidance. Keynote lecture to the Austrian Euroguidance conference, 12th November 2020.

[viii] Cedefop; European Commission, ETF, ICCDPP, ILO, OECD & UNESCO (2020). Career guidance policy and practice in the pandemic: results of a joint international survey – June to August 2020. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

[ix] McCarthy, J. & Hooley, T. (2015). Integrated policies: Creating systems that work. Adel, IA: Kuder.

[x] European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (2012). Lifelong guidance policy development: A European resource kit. Jyväskylä, Finland: ELGPN.

[xi] National Careers Service. (n.d.).

[xii] Staufenberg, J. (2021). Can the government fix the ‘confusing’ careers landscape? FEWEEK.

[xiii] Watts, A. G. (2013). False dawns, bleak sunset: The Coalition Government's policies on career guidance. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 41(4), 442-453.

[xiv] Langley, E., Hooley, T., & Bertuchi, D. (2014). A career postcode lottery? Local authority provision of youth and career support following the 2011 Education Act.

[xv] Long, R., & Danechi, S. (2022). Home education in England. House of Commons Library.

[xvi] Department for Education. (2021). Careers guidance and access for education and training providers.

[xvii] Gatsby Charitable Foundation. (2014). Good career guidance. Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

[xviii] Career Development Institute. (2021). Career Development Framework. Career Development Institute.

[xix] The Careers & Enterprise Company & Gatsby Charitable Foundation. (2018). Understanding the role of the Careers Leader: A guide for secondary schools. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xx] Hooley, T., Watts, A.G., and Andrews, D. (2015). Teachers and careers: The role of school teachers in delivering career and employability learning. International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

[xxi] Stewart, M. (2021). Understanding the role of the careers adviser within ‘Personal Guidance’. Career Development Institute.

[xxii] The Careers & Enterprise Company

[xxiii] SQW. (2020). Enterprise adviser network and careers hubs. SQW.

[xxiv] Williams, J., Akehurst G., Alexander K., Pollard E., Williams C., & Hooley T. (2020). Evaluation of the careers leader training. Institute of Employment Studies.

[xxv] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2022). Tools & resources.

[xxvi] Quality in Careers Standard,

[xxvii] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2020). Education inspection framework guide for careers leaders, school leaders and the enterprise adviser network. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xxviii] Office for Students. (2019). National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP): Two years on.

[xxix] Dodd, V., Hanson, J., & Hooley, T. (2021). Increasing students’ career readiness through career guidance: measuring the impact with a validated measure. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 1-14.

[xxx] The Careers & Enterprise Company (2021). Trends in Careers Education 2021. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xxxi] Hooley, T. (2021). Career education in primary school. myfuture Insights series.

Education Services Australia.

[xxxii] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (n.d.). Primary careers resources.

[xxxiii] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2021). Compass 2020-2021 headlines.

[xxxiv] Hooley, T., Johnson, C., & Neary, S. (2016). Professionalism in careers. Careers England and CDI.

[xxxv] Hooley, T., & Watts, A.G. (2011). An analysis of current developments in careers education and guidance for young people in England. University of Derby.

[xxxvi] Hooley, T., Percy, C., and Alexander, R. (2021). Exploring Scotland’s career ecosystem. Skills Development Scotland.

[xxxvii] Office for National Statitistics. (2021). Estimates for the population for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Irelands.

[xxxviii] In Exploring Scotland’s career ecosystem the figure of £160 per person is offered for all young people. In reality a lot of this funding is likely to be concentrated on secondary aged children and above, leading the authors to suggest a more likely typical spend at this age as £250 per pupil.

[xxxix] PWC. (2014). Assessing benchmarks of good practice in school career guidance. Gatsby Charitable Foundation.

[xl] Hooley, T., Percy, C., and Alexander, R. (2021). Exploring Scotland’s career ecosystem. Skills Development Scotland.

[xli] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2020). Education inspection framework guide for careers leaders, school leaders and the enterprise adviser network. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xlii] Quality in Careers Standard,

[xliii] Hutchinson, J., Morris, M., Percy, C., Tanner, E. & Williams, H. (2019) Careers Hubs: One year on. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xliv] Collins, J., & Barnes, A. (2017). Careers in the curriculum. What works? The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xlv] Tanner, E., Percy, C. and Andrews, D. (2019). Careers leaders in secondary schools: The first year. The Careers & Enterprise Company.

[xlvi] Hanson, J., Moore, N., Clark, L., & Neary, S. (2021). An evaluation of the North East of England pilot of the Gatsby Benchmarks of good career guidance. University of Derby.  

[xlvii] Moore, N., Vigurs, K., Everitt, J., & Clark, L. (2017). Progression for success: Evaluating North Yorkshire’s innovative careers guidance project. North Yorkshire County Council.;jsessionid=5054AD7DACDDAF0643D6E31C2E38DBEE?sequence=6

[xlviii] The Careers & Enterprise Company. (2021). Compass 2020-2021 headlines.

[xlix] Mann, A., Huddleston, P., & Kashefpakdel, E. (2019). Essays on employer engagement in education. Routledge.

March 2022