Top business leader gives the Government a wake-up call on the state of careers advice for young people and school leavers in Britain

The National Careers Service should be rolled out in schools to give pupils the advice they need to find jobs in today's competitive employment market, according to a business leader.

John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), believes careers advice for young people in the UK is on "life support". He said there is too much reliance on individual teachers to give advice - and if that doesn't happen then families and friends have to do it.

Schools and colleges have been responsible for giving impartial careers guidance to young people between the ages of 13 and 16 since September, but Mr Cridland believes many are struggling to give their pupils and students the kind of independent advice they need.

Speaking at the Grammar School Heads' Association's annual conference at the RAF Club in London this week, he said the leap young people are being asked to make between school and work or further education is getting bigger all the time.

He advised the Government to put an end to what he described as its "laissez faire" attitude to careers advice and extend the remit of the National Careers Service to give guidance to young people in schools and not just on the phone or online. It currently only gives face-to-face advice to adults looking to start or change careers.

Mr Cridland said more must be done to help young people who are facing more competition than ever before to find work because of the state of the economy and the difficult labour market. He warned of a "big mismatch" between people's skills and what employers need.

Careers guidance as not worked well enough for a long time, Mr Cridland said. He added that "jobs for life" do not exist any more and youngsters need reliable advice to succeed and it should not be left to individual teachers and friends and family to give it.

He warned that careers advice is on "life support" in some areas of the country as schools are not managing to provide the kind of guidance young people need. He urged business and Whitehall to act to make careers a higher priority instead of an "optional extra".

Copyright Press Association 2013