The National Careers Service is a nationally branded careers and skills advice service that is available free to adults and young people in England. Anyone aged 13 and over can have access to up to date, impartial information and professional guidance on careers, skills and the labour market through an online service and telephone helpline. Adults aged 19 and over, (or 18 and over if out of work and on benefits), have access to one-to-one support from a qualified, expert adviser, face-to-face in the community.

London Economics were commissioned by the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to undertake an evaluation of the impact of the National Careers Service.

The aim of this component of the analysis was to assess the impact that the service has had on National Careers Service customers before and after the receipt of support regarding:

  • Employment;
  • Benefit dependency; and
  • Learning

Throughout the analysis, all information is presented in terms of the customer's first time of receiving support from the National Careers Service.

What does this research tell us?

  • The composition of National Careers Service customers has changed over time, reflecting the wider deterioration in the labour market (especially for younger workers). A greater proportion of National Careers Service customers are younger, more likely to be unemployed, in long term unemployment, and/or in receipt of work related benefits. The challenge of moving the client group back to sustainable employment may have become inherently more difficult, as the degree of unemployment entrenchment among National Careers Service customers increased over time. Jobcentre Plus referred customers were more likely to be unemployed (approximately 93% compared to 66%).
  • The delivery of National Careers Service has changed over time – with more face-to-face advice, alongside a general reduction in the number of sessions. This suggests that the National Careers Service may have become more targeted on those that need support; Jobcentre Plus referred customers were more likely to be in receipt of benefits (90% compared to 53%).
  • Only 15% to 22% of customers who accessed the National Careers Service were referred by Jobcentre Plus, with the remainder self-referring. Within those receiving advice through the National Careers Service, customers are diverse depending on the referral route, mode of intervention and number of sessions. Customers referred to the service by Jobcentre Plus are more likely to be male, white, unemployed, in receipt of JSA, unemployed for a shorter period of time, London based, and have lower educational attainment. These individuals are more likely to receive face-to-face careers advice and support. 99% of Jobcentre Plus referrals received face-to-face support compared to 76% of self-referrals.

Key Finding: The research was unable to identify a positive impact of the National Careers Service on employment or benefit dependency outcomes. However, it was possible to identify a relatively strong positive effect in relation to education and training that persisted across the entire post-support period for this group.

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