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HoL inequality report: young people are being let down

Friday 08-04-2016 - 14:43

NUS welcomes today’s House of Lords report on inequality and social mobility in English education.

The report points out that the majority of young people are being let down, particularly through under-funding FE colleges, inadequate careers information, advice and guidance (IAG), and confusing qualification pathways.

Our submission to the inquiry can be read here.

Shakira Martin, Vice-President (Further Education), said: “The current government is failing the 53% of young people who do not go to university. Colleges have been cut and restructured, student support has been withdrawn, and there are nowhere near enough apprenticeship opportunities available to help students into skilled work.

“NUS believes the current state of IAG is a national scandal. Today’s education system funnels young people into rigid pathways too early and with recent reforms to A Levels and cuts to the budget for 18-year-olds, excellent careers IAG is vital. The ability to change pathways is few and far between.”

NUS supports the report’s recommendation for improved government accountability on ensuring non-university students successfully make the transition from education to good-quality employment.

The report found that: ‘There is a culture of inequality between vocational and academic routes to work. This culture pervades the system and the incentives to everyone involved.’

It argues that ‘recent Government policy has protected schools and university funding but the same is not true for post-16 institutions who provide for the majority of young people who do not go into higher education’.

In particular, the report suggests that the current area reviews of post-16 education will move FE colleges away from their roles ‘as engines of social mobility’.

The report also criticised the quality of careers information, advice and guidance, which ‘perpetuates the inequality between academic and non-academic routes’ and leaves ‘this overlooked majority of young people are at great risk of drifting into work and being trapped in employment at the bottom end of the labour market’.

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