In February it was announced that there will be a budget cut to the Careers Guidance Team in the Post-16 Education & Skills Team at West Sussex County Council. £100,000 is being cut in 2020/21, with an additional £60,000 being cut in 2021/22.

Whitehead-Ross Education is concerned about the impact this will have on young people, aged 16 and 17, in accessing high quality, impartial careers advice across West Sussex. 2.3% or 404 young people, aged 16 to 17, are currently not in education, employment or training (NEET), according to West Sussex County Council’s data as of February 2020. With the arrival of COVID-19, unemployment is forecast to rise to 3m in the UK by June and this NEET figure will only get worse.

Whilst West Sussex County Council is currently receiving funding from the European Social Fund for the ‘Think Futures’ programme, this programme is due to cease in 2 years time. This, combined with the £160,000 budgetary cut, will have a detrimental impact on the future life chances of young people across West Sussex.

Ian Ross, Managing Director of Whitehead-Ross Education, said

“Having a properly funded Careers Guidance Team is crucial to preventing young people getting trapped in unemployment for adulthood. This early intervention and prevention in getting young people back into education or training at the ages of 16 and 17 will provide returns and cost savings for the taxpayer later down the line; if a young person ends up becoming long-term unemployed, the associated costs will be much higher such as welfare benefits, housing, health costs with associated mental health and possibility of the young person evolving into a troubled, workless family later in life. Therefore this is a short-sighted decision.”

Many stakeholders across West Sussex who work collaboratively and in partnership with the Careers Guidance Team are deeply concerned about these proposed changes. Whitehead-Ross Education delivers a number of programmes for young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). They argue that a greatly reduced service is going to have knock-on effects for the wider education sector with young people not getting the support from West Sussex County Council that they deserve, as they will not know what options are available to them locally.

Ian Ross concluded:

“When COVID-19 has passed and things have returned to normal, I hope the Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Marshall, will review this decision as a priority.”

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Decision to cut West Sussex Post-16 Careers Guidance Team must be reviewed after COVID-19