Fears over careers jobs

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YOUNG people will lose out as about 70 careers advisors jobs are set to go in Wearside and Durham, claim union leaders.

Unison says new figures reveal “a desperate picture of the careers service for young people in England heading for meltdown” with 97.3 per cent of councils set to make cuts to Connexions services this year.

The public sector union claims 20 jobs will go in Sunderland and 50 are at risk in Durham.

Howard Pink, Unison’s regional organiser for Connexions staff, said: “Youth unemployment has hit a record high, with more than one million young people out of work.

“In the North East one in 10 16-to-24 year olds are in receipt of benefits  But all across the country, the Connexions advisors with the expertise to give young people the help they need, are losing their jobs. This makes no sense.  “Local authorities have a duty to provide careers services – but these cuts mean many are flouting their responsibilities to young people.”  

Sunderland City Council Conservative Group leader Robert Oliver said youth unemployment in Sunderland soared under Labour’s system and his party was trying to make improvements.

He said: “The Coalition Government is committed to improving the careers advice available to young people and will introduce a new all-age careers service to provide good quality and independent information to 13 to 19-year-olds.

“Under the current arrangements youth unemployment in Sunderland has soared to the second highest of any local authority.

“Nationally, the Institute of Careers Advice has criticised the Connexions service as ‘patchy and inconsistent’.”

He added: “From September 2011, schools will have a legal duty to provide good quality careers advice but will have the freedom to choose whichever provider best suits the needs of their pupils.

“This may be through online, telephone or face-to-face meetings.”

Mr Pink claimed some areas of the country will see their careers service close completely, with up to 8,000 advisors set to lose their jobs nationwide.

The Unison survey comes as the Coalition Education Bill, which lays out plans for an all-age careers service, makes its way through Parliament.

The news also comes after Tyne and Wear Education Business Link Organisation (Tweblo), which helps arrange work experience placements, revealed the Government was axing funding to pay for such services.

More than 1,000 Sunderland school pupils spend a week or more with employers in the city to gain work experience to prepare them for their future careers.

Tweblo carries out health and safety checks on employers offering work experience to children. Funding must now be found from elsewhere, but managers fear the cupboard is bare.