The Education Act 1998 places a legal obligation on schools to provide guidance to students. Since 2011, however, there have been significant cuts to career guidance in schools which has reduced the supports to young people, in particular one-to-one sessions. Both formal and informal guidance and advice can be invaluable for young people in making key choices about their future career and life. A study published by the Higher Education Authority in 2014 found that 7,000 students or 16% did not progress from first to second year at third level in 2011. This would indicate that even before the cuts imposed in 2012 took effect there were deficiencies in the career guidance system. A 2014 ESRI report noted that some students expressed concerns about the absence of options other than Higher Education in career guidance at second level.
Guidance and counselling is not only important in the school setting, it is also important for young people who are seeking further education, training and employment. The Ballymun Youth Guarantee pilot evaluation highlighted the importance of good quality career advice and comprehensive holistic guidance to young jobseekers. Likewise the National Implementation Group arising from the EU Structured Dialogue Process on Youth Policy which comprised of twenty young people deliberated on the issue of guidance and counselling. They recommended that a new strategic approach was required for the provision of guidance services. They proposed that guidance should assist young people as they navigate through education, training and in pursuit of employment. They called for a young person centred service that is good quality, supports their development and is accessible when they need it most. NYCI endorses this view and calls on the next Government to develop a National Strategy for a Comprehensive Guidance Service.
Report on Young Voice National Implementation Project on Guidance