Closure is a blow for teenagers

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TEENAGERS looking for work were dealt another blow this week with the closure of the careers’ office in Berwick.

The Connexions office at the Chandelry where young people up to the age of 19 are given career and employment advice is closing tomorrow due to Government cuts.

While the three staff have been redeployed, the closure of the office means that many young people will now have to rely solely on websites for information rather than be able to talk directly with a careers adviser.

Concern about the closure prompted town councillor John Robertson to ask questions about it at the Academy’s board of governors which met this week as we went to press.

“It’s very important so I have pressed for it to be on the agenda,” he said this week.

However, Academy deputy head Ian Murray said that while he was concerned about the impact the office closure would have on young people who had left school, he said he was confident that those still at school would continue to receive good careers advice.

“We have known for some time about this change as it is a part of a slimming down process which is happening country-wide,” he said. “In school we have a very strong structure which was supported very well by Connexions and we are now seeking to appoint our own careers adviser who will have the experience and be able to offer the quality of help that Connexions gave us.

“In terms of the school I am more than confident that this will not have an impact but I am concerned about those who have left school as their opportunity to have contact with a person rather than just use websites will be very much reduced.”

The County Council said that provision would still be made for the most vulnerable and at risk young people within Berwick. A spokeswoman said they could not comment on exactly what is happening to the people who work out of the Berwick office.

Elaine O’Connor, head of employability and skills from Northumberland County Council said: “This is part of a national government policy change relating to provision of information, advice and guidance to young people. The council currently has had a contract with Igen Ltd to provide Connexions services, including careers information, advice and guidance, and this contract is coming to an end on March 31.

“The council will still be providing careers information, advice and guidance and there will be a greater focus on supporting vulnerable and at risk young people.

“Schools will be responsible for providing careers information, advice and guidance for their students from September, which will allow them to tailor advice to their students’ needs.

“The council is currently implementing plans for the new arrangements and details of how services will be provided in the future will be promoted to students and young people in due course.

“There is still an intention to provide information, advice and guidance for the most vulnerable and at risk young people within Berwick in the new arrangements.

“All other young people will receive support from their school.

“We can’t comment on the arrangements for individual members of staff in the careers service, but many will be transferred to the county council through TUPE arrangements and will therefore still be providing careers advice but in different ways.”

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