Published On: February 23, 2024|1359 words|6.8 min read|
career guidance

Over the past 10 years, I have witnessed the educational landscape evolve dramatically. In recent times, I have seen more emphasis put on quality assurance in career guidance. It has been encouraging to see the growing conversation about the significance of high-quality careers guidance.

We do face some issues as a sector surrounding recruitment and retention, as highlighted by the recent Careers England report, and as we strive to reshape perceptions about high-quality career guidance, tackling these challenges head-on is important. This is not just about maintaining standards; it is about reframing what people expect from careers guidance and elevating the standard to ensure every student receives the best possible support.

Understanding quality assurance in careers guidance

Quality assurance in career guidance is vital. It ensures that the advice and guidance offered in schools meets a high standard of excellence. Additionally, it guarantees that all students receive dynamic, personalised Careers Education, Information, Advice, and Guidance (CEIAG), helping them make informed decisions about their future.

As a career guidance professional myself, I emphasise the importance of demonstrating high-quality career advice and guidance in everyday actions. Every interaction, every conversation, and every piece of guidance contributes to a young person’s experience.

Ofsted’s role in quality assurance in careers guidance

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills (Ofsted) is becoming increasingly interested in the quality of careers guidance in schools. Ofsted now pays close attention to a school’s career programme set against the Gatsby Benchmarks. These benchmarks encapsulate the best practices for career guidance programmes.

Ofsted are interested how well schools integrate these benchmarks into their career guidance programmes, focusing on the effectiveness of schools’ engagement with employers and external agencies, the training and resources allocated for career guidance staff, and the methods used for monitoring and evaluating the career guidance programmes.

When any of our schools are undergoing an Ofsted inspection, our advisers provide support across all areas. This assistance is crucial, particularly in demonstrating how the schools effectively integrate Gatsby Benchmark 8 into their career guidance programmes.

Importantly, the results of these Ofsted assessments can significantly influence a school’s reputation, underscoring the importance of meeting these high standards in career guidance.

What does ‘good’ career advice look like?

The Quality in Careers Standard, recognised and recommended by the Department for Education, serves as a benchmark for schools aspiring to achieve excellent standards in CEIAG.

We ensure that all the schools we work with know that it’s the process they undertake to achieve the standard, that significantly enhances the quality of their guidance. Meeting the criteria set by the standard is not just about checking boxes; it signifies that they are delivering an exceptional service. We firmly believe that good careers advice can take various forms and is ultimately about tailoring the guidance to the individual needs of each student.

Our approach, tailored to each school’s unique needs, includes thoroughly assessing current career guidance programmes and aligning them with the Quality in Careers Standard benchmarks. This assessment is then submitted for external verification via our partner, Ixion Holdings, to determine compliance with the quality standards.

In addition to helping schools achieve their Quality in Careers Standard, we deliver ongoing CEIAG support through our bespoke face-to-face careers service, careers resources, and iProgress app.

What challenges are schools facing?

One of the most pressing challenges facing schools today is the growing gap between the expectations placed upon them and the resources available. Schools are being increasingly asked to deliver more for less, raising questions about the adequacy of funding in education. This situation is particularly acute in CEIAG, where the need for specialised skills and knowledge is paramount.

A significant consideration is whether the current funding model for education adequately supports the specific needs of career guidance.

A recent report submitted to the House of Commons Committee details that schools are only spending on average £2 per pupil on careers. This underfunding raises questions about the feasibility of schools providing comprehensive career guidance programmes, suggesting the potential benefit of a dedicated funding stream for CEIAG. Such a model could ensure that every child has access to the same level of guidance, irrespective of their school’s financial situation, and help mitigate the risks to quality assurance by providing schools with the necessary resources to invest in skilled career advisors and implement comprehensive career guidance programmes aligned with the Quality in Careers Standard.

This approach would not only address the immediate funding concerns but also has the potential to alleviate the recruitment and retention challenges highlighted in the Careers

England report. Enhanced support and resources would lead to a more stable workforce, ensuring the delivery of high-quality, engaging, one-to-one careers advice and guidance that is tailored to each young person’s individual needs and circumstances.

Addressing the challenges within the sector

At Progress Careers, we recognise the critical role of career advice and guidance within the educational landscape. Our multifaceted approach is designed to address the sector’s challenges, including recruitment and retention, and to support schools directly in delivering high-quality career guidance.

Recognising the need for more career advisers and the importance of succession planning, we have initiated apprenticeship programmes to train the next generation of career advisers. These programmes are strategically developed to align with the requirements for career guidance in schools, ensuring a steady influx of skilled professionals well-versed in these requirements.

We are also actively seeking to attract individuals from other sectors who can bring diverse skills and perspectives to career guidance. We already have a number of advisers from backgrounds such as teaching, HR, social work and pastoral roles. This cross-pollination of skills enriches our team and enhances the quality of advice we provide, directly contributing to schools’ ability to meet and exceed quality benchmarks in career guidance.

In response to the industry’s challenges, particularly the limited opportunities for continued professional development (CPD), we have initiated a series of programmes aimed at enhancing access to training and development opportunities.

As an affiliate organisation of the Career Development Institute (CDI), we adhere to their CPD calendar. Our commitment to CPD extends both internally and externally to our advisers. These initiatives range from day-to-day collaborative learning to regular communication and training days, all aimed at keeping our team at the forefront of the career guidance field. All of our advisers are observed twice a year to ensure that their skills and practices align with the highest standards.

I firmly believe that having the right team is one thing, but equally important is ensuring they have the most up-to-date knowledge and skills. This commitment is essential to enable our advisers to provide exceptional service, directly supporting schools in enhancing the quality of their career guidance programmes.

The importance of quality assurance

Quality career advice is essential in bridging the skills gap in the workforce, guiding students towards in-demand careers, and contributing to economic growth. It also plays a vital role in reducing the number of young people who become NEET (not in education, employment, or training), thereby fostering a more productive and engaged society. Research from The Careers and Enterprise Company underscores the significant benefits of careers education, particularly for young people facing the greatest barriers. Stating that the measurable impact is profound when a school achieves all eight Gatsby Benchmarks for careers education. Notably, for young people from disadvantaged communities, the likelihood of becoming NEET decreases by 20 per cent. This decrease in NEET levels represents a positive shift in youth engagement and a substantial economic benefit.

Succession planning is pivotal for the continuous delivery of high-quality career guidance, crucial in shaping young people’s futures. Establishing a robust pipeline of skilled and trained career advisors ensures the consistency and relevance of advice given to students. However, whilst having the right skills is important, I believe that it is essential to find individuals who can relate to and connect with young people.


In conclusion, the journey toward excellence in careers advice and guidance is ongoing and ever-evolving. It is a collective responsibility that involves educators, policymakers, professional bodies and career guidance professionals. Together, we can ensure that every young person receives the high-quality guidance they need to navigate their future.

Paula Thompson

Managing Director

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