Careers service strategy in chaos

Sixty jobs are to be axed at Careers Wales despite the fact the organisation is in the running to deliver a landmark training scheme next year. Public services union, UNISON, has described Welsh government’s careers services funding strategy as a mess. The trade union has warned shedding so many jobs would seriously undermine the quality of careers advice provided to students and people out of work.

Careers Wales has written to UNISON triggering the formal consultation process over the proposed redundancies even though it is still bidding for the Welsh government’s flagship Employability and Apprenticeship programme. The trade union has written to Careers Wales and the Welsh government to demand a joint meeting. Careers Wales is owned, funded and its work directed, by the Welsh government.

Jeff Baker, UNISON regional organiser said,

“The government’s plans don’t make any sense. You have a great success story in Careers Wales, which helped 75,000 people of all ages find work last year, yet multi-million pound cuts to its budget are devastating the organisation. Quality careers advice helps people into work but those giving that advice are themselves faced with the sack.

“Welsh government hasn’t concluded its strategic review with Careers Wales and by slashing funding to that organisation, it’s forcing Careers Wales to sack people and its future is threatened. This is a ridiculous way to plan and fund a key public service. In effect, Welsh government is downsizing Careers Wales before it has even decided what it wants careers services in Wales to look like. UNISON wants to make sense of this and be part of a strategy to deliver a better service.

“The Careers Wales budget and staff numbers have halved in the last five years. It has lost an incredible £22m in funding and 600 members of staff. With another cut of £2.7m announced, you’re left wondering how the service is going to survive. That can’t be good news for how we help our young people or unemployed back into work. These cuts are counterproductive. Why on earth is Welsh government allowing its own organisation to ‘wither on the vine’?”

UNISON has asked Assembly Members to intervene to protect Careers Wales. As Welsh government owns Careers Wales, the union has said there is no obligation to put the Employability and Apprenticeship Programme work out to tender and it is perfectly legal to give this work direct to Careers Wales staff.