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Inspiration or desperation?

The Government’s inspiration vision smacks a little of desperation! The idea that all employers will be inspiring to young people is half-baked. The scandal of employers who use zero-hours contracts that exploit individuals is in the news again. There will not be many schools that will be inviting those employers in to ‘inspire’ their young people any time soon! Is the inspiration policy also a cover to conceal the fact that the government doesn’t believe that careers guidance is a public good and having taken away the funding for it is now looking to employers to provide inspiration for free?


The irony is that inspiration properly conceived could help us make careers guidance even better. Inspiration can make a big difference to young people’s career happiness and wellbeing. Transcendent feelings and states of flow make us feel more confident, optimistic and purposeful. The inspiration message could so easily have been grafted onto the Every Child Matters wellbeing agenda but for the partisanship of party politics.


Everyone knows as well that inspiration cannot be willed. By its very definition inspiration is a spontaneous reaction to an unexpected stimulus. That does not mean we can’t try to create the conditions in which inspiration is more likely to occur at least for some young people. It is also true that inspiration favours the prepared mind. This is why, Mr Gove and Mr Hancock, that we need the middlemen (both men and women)!


The middlemen know that inspiration is invoked by beauty, truth and goodness. There are employers such as those in the creative industries which are so important to our economy whose work and influence will more readily be inspirational. The middlemen can help young people to understand what we mean by ‘good’ work and inspire young people to find it. Bad work is alienating. Good work that enables young people to use their talents fully and do something worthwhile is fulfilling.


In the latest iteration of the statutory guidance, the DfE assert that employers, schools and others can work together to inspire young people about the world of work. ‘Others’ is a calculatedly vague phrase that ‘invisibilises’ and belittles the contribution of careers guidance professionals. Shame on the Ministers!

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