Orr, Kevin (2014) Inequality, advice and guidance for young people in England, paper in British Educational Research Association (BERA) Keynote Symposium: Youth Transitions in Troubled Times: NEETS, Vocational Education and Decision Making. In: BERA annual Conference, 23rd-25th September 2014, Institute of Education, London. (Unpublished)

This paper draws on an analysis of secondary statistical data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People In England (LSYPE) to investigate careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) services provided to young people in relation to the post-16 vocational qualifications they select. Post-16 education and training are highly differentiated in England and there is a huge range of courses and qualifications available to young people. These qualifications are not readily comparable and are of uneven value, especially those in vocational education and training (VET). In this context of confusion the Wolf Report (Wolf 2011: 13) accused schools of “gaming”: advising students onto less demanding courses which benefit schools in their position on national league tables but which are of doubtful worth for the students themselves.

To assess the impact of CEIAG for young people in England more broadly this paper reports on statistical analysis of data from the LSYPE in response to two research questions:
• What formal CEIAG do young people receive?
• What evidence is there of young people being advised onto vocational courses which they do not complete or from which progression is difficult?

The LSYPE collected data from a panel of young people in seven waves between 2004 and 2010 on a wide range of topics including family environment, type of school attended and sources of advice and guidance. 15770 young people were involved in the first wave, dropping to 8682 by the final wave.

The LSYPE covered a period when CEIAG services were in flux and when new VET qualifications were being introduced with much publicity. There was found to be wide discrepancy in what young people perceived to be available. That discrepancy of provision may have exacerbated the problem of disadvantaged young people selecting courses leading to qualifications which, even if they completed them, have proved to be short-lived and which have little status in higher education or the workplace.

These findings are especially important given that the Education Act of 2011 has repealed the careers education duty on schools in England and moved responsibility for information advice and guidance from local authorities to schools.