Iain Wright is the Minister for Schools

The world of work is changing fast. The top 10 jobs that will be most in demand in 2010 did not even exist in 2004. By 2020 over 40 per cent of all jobs in will require a graduate level qualification and there will be three million fewer low skilled jobs in Britain than there are today.

The challenges of the 21st century - how we as a nation stay competitive in a global economy increasingly dominated by China and other Eastern economies, how we tackle issues of sustainability, environmental damage and finite natural resources, and how we cope with a growing and ageing population - are stark, and we need every young person to fulfil their potential and play their part in meeting those challenges.

We need an education system that doesn’t just nurture a selected few, or categorises or labels young people in a way that limits their potential. We want all young people to succeed.

More of our 14 to 19 year-olds are benefitting from education, training and work opportunities than ever before. By choosing to take part in further education and work-based learning, young people are becoming better skilled and better prepared for life.

So the education and training system is changing, to equip our young people to meet the social and economic challenges of the future.

From 2015 onwards all young people will stay on in learning until at least 18, to give them the best chance of success.

To support this crucial step forward, we are making changes to strengthen GCSEs and A Levels, and by 2013 all young people will have access to a choice of GCSEs, Diplomas, Apprenticeships and Foundation Learning. Of course, it’s vital that young people understand those options and get tailored advice and support to help them make the right decisions about their future.

So in October 2009 we launched Quality, choice and aspiration, a strategy that sets out radical changes to information, advice and guidance to ensure that all young people are given the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential.

Our strategy has also taken account of recommendations from Alan Milburn and his panel in the ’Fair Access to the Professions’ report, for improving social mobility and equal opportunities.

Research earlier this year showed that 11 year-olds have very high aspirations, with 75 per cent saying they wanted to go to university.

We want to nurture these aspirations - to ensure that young people are inspired and supported to achieve, regardless of background, ethnicity or gender. We are putting £10 million into building the capacity of third-sector organisations, working in partnership with others, to develop approaches which broaden horizons and encourage young people to aim high.

Parents can have a huge influence on children’s learning and career aspirations at all stages. We are trialling career related learning in 38 primary schools to encourage pupils and parents to discuss careers and education choices early, during the final years of primary school. Parents will get the help, support and resources they need to do this confidently, and help prepare their children to choose the right subject options at 14.

We will also ensure that professional advisers providing careers education and information, advice and guidance get ongoing training, so that they can provide the best, most up to date information and guidance to meet the individual needs of each young person.

The information, advice and guidance strategy identifies examples of trail-blazing good practice and highlights some outstanding work already going on across the country to help young people fulfil their potential.

For example, i-choose Liverpool is a comprehensive online Careers Education and information, advice and guidance programme designed to help young people develop their knowledge and skills and shape their attitudes for the future. The success of this scheme reflects the fact that this generation of young people looks to the internet for knowledge; and our information, advice and guidance plans include more interactive, accessible information, advice and guidance using online interactive social network channels such as YouTube, Facebook, forums and blogs.

We will continue to work with partners such as the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) in the further education sector. This will ensure that support is provided in line with our ambition to extend the statutory duty on schools and colleges to deliver careers education to young people up to the age of 18. We would like to introduce this duty in line with the timetable for raising the participation age and will consult widely on how it might best be implemented.

For the post-16 sector, we have asked LSIS to identify leaders from across the sector to champion information, advice and guidance. In collaboration with the National College, LSIS will deliver programmes and events for leaders to raise and provide a focus for sharing effective practice.

Open days are a great way of providing information to people who are about to leave school. The experience of Sian O’Leary, from Woodside High School in Tottenham, is a great example. Sian’s favourite subjects were always design and technology and woodwork and she knew she wanted to do something with a practical element. She is studying for the Higher Diploma in construction and the Built Environment at the College of North East London, thanks to an open day there that she found out about during a careers event at her school. The open day gave her the opportunity to get a feel for the college, the course and the teachers. She liked what she saw and heard, and enrolled there and then.

Shauna Hogan’s story shows how excellent information, advice and guidance can transform young people’s lives.

Shauna has Down’s Syndrome. She got good results at school, and had lots of performing arts experience, but wasn’t sure what to do next or how to get into theatre as a career. Her Connexions Personal Adviser organised two weeks’ work experience for her at Starlite Performing Arts School. The placement soon removed any doubts that Starlite might have had. They could see how talented Shauna was and accepted her on an entry to employment course. She is now thriving at the school, studying ballet, tap and modern dance.

Another example is Dean Burns. Dean’s discussions with his Connexions Personal Adviser paved the way for him to pursue his dream of becoming a paramedic. He is studying for the necessary qualifications, and getting work experience with St John’s Ambulance to give himself the best chance of success. Dean’s ambition has opened other doors for him too. He is working towards a Duke of Edinburgh Award and is joining the Territorial Army, training as a driver and medic.

We believe that every young person in Britain has the right to the same kind of personalised support that Shauna and Dean experienced. We want stories like theirs to be everyday successes.

Our Information, Advice and Guidance Guarantee for every young person sets out the kind and quality of information, advice and guidance that young people are entitled to expect at each stage of their lives up to the age of 19. It signals the Government’s determination that the next generation of school leavers will have access to the best opportunities and all the support they need to grasp them - not only for all their futures’ sake, but also for the future of Britain

Iain Wright is the Minister for Schools

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