I was able to take part in the Wesminster Hall Debate on Careers Advice today. Unfortunately my time was somewhat limited.
Thank you, Ms Rees. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. My right hon. Friend Esther McVey gave a storming speech. The quickest way to summarise my speech would be to say I agree with everything she said—I thought it was marvellous. I declare my interest as a governor at two schools in my constituency.
When it comes to the challenge of levelling up, careers guidance is absolutely central to what we are trying to do. Effectively, levelling up is correcting market failure in one of four areas—housing, infrastructure, skilled jobs or having a skilled and educated workforce. As an MP who represents an ex-mining area as I do in Bolsover, the problem is very specifically about looking at having a skilled workforce and skilled jobs in the area. We do not have a history of that.
We have a history of mining, and that creates a cultural challenge, and a gap in aspirations that needs to be corrected. Whether that comes from parents, schools, the community, or—even better—from all three together, we need to be able to change the culture of an area over time, and careers guidance is absolutely central to that. I am not going to look the Chair in the eye because it is very off-putting—I do not know when I have to sit down—so I will carry on regardless.
There are three incredibly important points to make. The first is about pathways. My right hon. Friend outlined quite beautifully that young people need to be able to understand what careers are available to them, which can be incredibly difficult unless they come into contact with those careers. We need clear role models—identifiable, local role models—and to work with employers in the local area to be able to say, “This is what you can do.”
The second point is about aspiration, and the mindset—encouraging young people, wherever they are from, that they can achieve things and making that clear. The third point is reinforcement—saying over and over again that someone can achieve what they need to achieve.
I could not agree more with the need to start young, and to continue with careers guidance. That is such a crucial point—I ruined my notes by scribbling it down. It is unbelievably important. The point on supporting not just academic pathways, but technical ones, and the importance of having provision—