Written evidence submitted by the Career Development Institute (CDI)


Education Committee - Call for evidence: The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services


Introduction to the CDI

The CDI (Career Development Institute) is the single UK-wide professional body for everyone working in the fields of career education; career information, advice and guidance; career coaching, career consultancy and career management.

It is governed by a Board and has a Professional Standards Committee and Council, all of which represent the institute’s 4,700 members.  Its purpose is to promote the value of using professionally qualified career development professionals that have the knowledge and skills required to enable young people and adults to make informed decisions about learning and work pathways; and have the ability to manage and plan their career and personal development.

At the request of the Government the CDI maintains the UK Register of Career Development Professionals qualified to at least QCF level 6 or above in Careers Guidance and Development. The work of the CDI and its members benefits individuals, communities and the economy by helping to shape people’s experience of learning, the labour market and their life chances.


Reason for submitting evidence

The national shutdown put into effect by the UK Government in March 2020 to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak has had a profound effect on education, training and employment.  Our submission is driven by the need to reduce the adverse long-term impact on the economy and the demand for a skilled workforce

To ensure that people from all sectors of society can contribute to the rebuilding of the economy through meaningful work, we strongly recommend that young people and adults have access to qualified career professionals to support them through this unprecedented period of transition. 

Career guidance is important to education and training providers because it increases the effectiveness of their provision by linking learners to programmes that meet their vocational identity.  Similarly, it enables employers to find employees that meet their requirements and fosters efficiency in the allocation of human resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of educational establishments has amplified the limitations of a school/college/HEI based system of career guidance provision for young people.  With only remote provision available, access has been severely impeded.  The effects of this lack of access will be long lasting and detrimental to the future prospects of young people, especially for those at transitional points in their education, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special educational needs or disability

To support young people in managing the uncertainty that lies ahead and enable them to move into appropriate learning and sustainable training and employment we recommend all have access to high quality personal career guidance and the services of a qualified career professional.

Impact on CEIAG in Education

The impact of the unprecedented closure of educational establishments will be deep and far-reaching.  By July 2020 over 600,000 young people will have reached the end of compulsory education without sitting any formal examinations.  A similar number of young people, will have the option of no longer participating in learning, over fifty percent of whom will pursue employment while the remainder will seek to progress to higher education. Most will experience the loss of six months education and the continuation of remote learning is seen as unsustainable

Evidence suggests students on lower level courses and those in the final year of A levels are becoming disengaged from learning[i] with some experiencing limited access because of inadequate hardware or internet provisionUnequal access to online learning, support networks and careers advice has widened existing inequalities in education

Many will not have received the personal guidance advocated in the Gatsby Benchmarks, endorsed in statute and essential to helping individuals cope in the situation confronting them.  To mitigate pupil anxiety, support them in managing their transition and remaining on track, schools will need additional financial support to enable them to work in partnership with career professionals and parents to ensure all pupils receive career guidance tailored to their needs and advocated by government.

There should also be opportunity for schools to build on the recent investment in career leaders and work with the local authorities to ensure that in fulfilling the September Guarantee, young people receive offers appropriate to their needs.

Concerns over exam grades and the uncertainty in Higher Education Institutions[ii] arising from the pandemic could result in a scramble in September 2020 to fill empty places from a shrinking pool of domestic 18-year-olds.  Similarly, placing a cap on student numbers could force students to attend institutions to which they have not applied or want to go.  Young people who have already lost out on the end of their school experience, should not be further disadvantaged or feel rushed into making a decision during what is already a difficult time for them.  Moreover, any increased mismatch could have a long-term impact on employment prospects and social mobility, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Ensuring the provision of impartial career guidance to support access to a high quality education at the university that is best for the student is paramount in harnessing the diversity and skills of young people needed to equip the country for the future. It is important to acknowledge that the National Careers Service (NCS) does support a national results helpline in August, providing advice on the full range of post-18 options. Our concern here is that the NCS will not have enough qualified staff to meet the demand for personal career guidance, which requires a higher level of skills than the provision of information and adviceThe current uncertainty intensifies the need for high quality personal career guidance to be an integral part of the transition to university and beyond, not an afterthought.


The transition to employment

For young people leaving education there will be major challenges in the months ahead as we face unchartered territory in terms of accessing the labour market.  The ILO (International Labour Organisation) describes the Covid-19 pandemic as causing the worst global crisis since the Second World War and impacting dramatically on the world’s workforce[iii].   Research by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex warns that almost one quarter of all jobs in the UK are at risk[iv] Already, significant job cuts have been announced in the national press by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Rolls-Royce, Debenhams and TUIMore will follow.  The sectors known to be most badly affected are accommodation and food services, services and retail, and transportOpportunities in these sectors provide that crucial first rung on the employment ladder and will therefore hit young people the hardest.  Already evidence suggests young people are more likely to have lost their job than adults[v]

Qualified career professionals are well placed to make a meaningful contribution to discussions about issues in the labour market that impact on young people.  Their knowledge of the labour market, progression pathways between learning and work and links with employers will prove invaluable in enabling young people to access employment opportunities and help address social inequalities that exist currently through lack of information and limited access to careers guidance.



Apprentices also will be facing a time of uncertainty as companies struggle to survive.  Many are taking an enforced break, but it is important they are able to take up their learning again once we enter the ‘new normal’.  The Association of Colleges[vi] predicts that 30,000 16/17-year olds in England expecting to start an apprenticeship in the coming academic year will now need alternative provision.  Most young people will never have experienced this type of situation. Many will feel anxious about the unknown and in need of personal career guidance to map out their future but without additional resources FE Colleges will struggle to meet demand and be unable to invest in much needed career specialists. 

In seeking to manage costs, pressure to reduce the off-the-job-training (OTJT) requirements and recommendations that apprentices undertake training in their own time should be vigorously resisted as OTJT is an essential component to ensuring that businesses have the skilled workforce needed to facilitate economic growth.  Also, we know that workers in lower level occupations with lower levels of qualification are far more vulnerable to unemploymentSteps must be taken to ensure that we do not lose this workforce which is so crucial to our economic growth.  A key element of effective investment will be the provision of personal career guidance to support young people, training providers and employers in maximising their investment.


The case for personal career guidance

The evidence shows that personal career guidance can have substantial benefits for the economy by supporting individuals to develop their capacities in ways that contribute to enhanced jobs, skills and growth[vii].

Qualified career professionals are able to support young people and adults through transitions, by helping them to internalise the need to take responsibility for their career, education and training to enhance their employability. Equally they are able to support young people in confronting reality during times of economic recession, helping them to explore those industries that are thriving and identify how their skills can be transferred into roles where they can gain valuable learning and work experience and increase their chances of securing their desired job once the economy improves.

In moving forward the CDI and its members are prepared for the complex challenge of ensuring young people from all backgrounds can access education and training that provides access to high quality secure work that enables them to progress and contribute positively to society.  There is no part of life where the need for guidance is more emphatic than in the transition – the choice of vocation, preparation for it and the attainment of efficiency and success.

The provision of personal career guidance by qualified professionals located in schools, colleges, universities and importantly within the community would serve to mitigate concerns at the cancelling of formal exams and future uncertainty. Acting as a conduit between education and the world of work, career professionals can communicate the fairness of the qualifications awarded and support the young person’s progression to the next stage

They are able to support young people in making an informed decision between available options and matching skills-set. In recent months career professionals have risen to the challenges arising from the ‘lock-down’, adopting a flexible approach to delivery of careers support and adapted quickly to new ways of working, making good use of appropriate digital platforms and interactive career resources designed for vocational learning and skills development while adhering to safeguarding principles[viii].

Career professionals are able to keep abreast of recovery in the different employment sectors and bring together education and the world of work with its multiple entry points and career pathways, building confidence through trust and dialogue between education and training providers and local businesses, both large and small.  Albeit they cannot create jobs, as specialists they can ensure young people are adequately informed about the opportunities available, have given them adequate consideration in relation to their own values and other attributes, maximise their choices within the situation with which they will be confronted and maintain an active role in society during the forthcoming period of economic regeneration.


Young person’s entitlement

The CDI shares the government’s priority of ensuring that students and adult learners can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, or T-Levels and apprenticeships in the autumn or getting a job or progressing in work. 

This crisis is unique and the current schools-based system of career guidance provision has left many young people out in the cold, un-prepared and without direction. 

The government deserves huge credit for its economic response to the crisis, but we need to go further now to ensure that today’s young people do not become ‘the forgotten generation’.  In these unprecedented times, the CDI is asking the government to secure an entitlement for every young person to access high quality personal career guidance. To meet this entitlement the government can draw upon the services of almost 2,000 CDI registered career development practitioners, who would be prepared to provide immediate online personal career guidance to both adults and young people. 

As part of the solution, Government investment in the services of CDI registered career development professionals will prove effective with the efficiency of returns becoming apparent in young people’s learning outcomes, their readiness to be successful in the workplace, improved life chances and contribution to the economy in terms of productivity and GDP.



CDI response to COVID-19 – final 27052020              5

[i] Association of Colleges (May 2020) Covid-19 and colleges,6V1S9,B1LAK,RJ6NW,1 (accessed 8 May 2020)

[ii] HEPI - (accessed 06 May 2020)

[iii] ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and  the world of work: 2nd edition (accessed 8 May 2020)

[iv] ISER

[v] How is Covid-19 affecting British opinion, jobs and well-being? YouGov, 2020 (accessed 8 May 2020)

[vi] Association of Colleges (May 2020) Covid-19 and colleges,6V1S9,B1LAK,RJ6NW,1 (accessed 8 May 2020)

[vii]   Careers England policy briefing – Holley and Dodd (2015) - (accessed 06 May 2020)

TES (Times Educational Supplement)

[viii] Michael Larbalestier  Project Associate (Digital Learning) - CDI Positional Paper: Safe and ethical use of web videoconferencing for personal careers guidance - (accessed 14 May 2020)


Additional sources of information

BBC News -

FE Week - (accessed 06 May 2020)

Luminate Prospects - (accessed 07 May 2020)

TES (Times Educational Supplement)



May 2020