The responsibility for securing the provision of careers advice in educational institutions in Wales rests with the Welsh Ministers.
Section 8 of the Employment and Training Act 1973 (ETA 1973) imposes an obligation on the Welsh Ministers to provide services to assist people in education (other than higher education) in Wales to decide what employment might be suitable for them and to assist them in obtaining that employment. The kind of services that may be involved include providing information and offering advice and guidance about the kinds of employment available and the training or education that might be required to obtain that employment.
The Welsh Ministers also have the power to provide these services to people not in education under section 9 of ETA 1973.
Under section 10 of ETA 1973, the Welsh Ministers can arrange for careers advice services to be provided by local authorities or other bodies and can also direct local authorities to provide careers advice services or arrange for their provision. In making these arrangements, the Welsh Ministers can make payments to providers and can allow providers to charge for their services.
The Welsh Ministers have exercised these powers by entering into an arrangement with Careers Wales/Gyrfa Cymru, a body that provides careers education and guidance to 14-19 year olds in Wales through schools and further education institutions.
The Education Act 1997 places obligations on the governing bodies and head teachers of schools in Wales to ensure that pupils between the ages of 14 and 19 are given a programme of education designed to prepare them for taking decisions about their careers and to help them implement such decisions (section 43, as modified by the Education (Extension of Careers Education) (Wales) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/1987).
Sections 44, 45 and 45B of the Education Act 1997 also require the governing bodies, head teachers and principals of schools and further education institutions to provide access to guidance and reference materials regarding careers education. They must also work with Careers Wales/Gyrfa Cymru (as the body appointed under section 10 of ETA 1973) to provide this service and, where necessary, should provide to Careers Wales/Gyrfa information about and access to pupils and students for the purposes of careers education.
Section 2 of ETA 1973 confers an additional function on the Welsh Ministers in relation to careers advice. It allows the Welsh Ministers to make appropriate arrangements for the purpose of assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain employment suitable for their ages and capacity or of assisting persons to obtain suitable employees. In relation to Wales, these functions are exercisable by the Welsh Ministers concurrently with the Secretary of State, save that they do not include the function of making arrangements for the principal purpose of helping all those (as distinct from a particular section of the population of Wales) without work to find employment (see paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999/672).
As with other types of education, careers advice is within the remit of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales under sections 55 to 57 of the Education Act 2005. The Chief Inspector is required to inspect the careers advice provided under sections 2, 8 and 9 of ETA 1973 at regular intervals and to keep the Welsh Ministers informed about the quality of this advice. The Welsh Ministers can require the Chief Inspector to inspect particular services or advise on particular issues and the Chief Inspector may also carry out this action of his or her own volition. The Inspector has a right of entry to relevant premises and a right to inspect documents. Further detail about inspections of careers advice is set out in the Inspection of the Careers and Related Services (Wales) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/3103).