Frequently Asked Questions for Further Education


Gatsby Benchmark 1 - A stable careers programme

Colleges should have an established programme of careers education and guidance that is known and understood by learners, parents, college staff, governors, employers and other agencies.


  • Every college should have a stable, structured careers programme that has the explicit backing of the senior management team, and has an identified and appropriately trained person responsible for it.
  • The careers programme should be published on the college’s website in a way that enables learners, parents, staff and employers to access and understand it.
  • The programme should be regularly evaluated with feedback from learners, parents, staff and employers as part of the evaluation process.

What information should I put on my college website to target different stakeholders? 

You don’t need to create different content for each audience, but you should ensure that the information can be understood and is accessible by learners, parents, staff, governors and employers.

How often am I expected to review the programme?

The minimum requirement is to review your careers programme every 3 years; however, best practice is to review termly and complete a full programme evaluation annually.

What monitoring do you expect to see of a careers programme?

You should be keeping track of all career provision in your college this will include tracking the number of employer encounters, experiences of work, etc. including details of learners who have attended these to inform gap analysis and planning.

How can I gather feedback from parents/carers?

You could consider either a survey or a focus group approach from a sample of parents/carers to ensure that parent/carer voice is reflected in your evaluation of your careers programme

What is the definition of allocated resources?

Allocated resources will include the Careers Leaders time, time allocated to teaching staff for delivery, support staff as well as budget allocated to the careers programme.

Gatsby Benchmark 2 - Learning from career and labour market information

Every learner, and their parents (where appropriate), should have access to good-quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities. They will need the support of an informed adviser to make best use of available information.


•            During their study programme, all learners should access and use information about career paths and the labour market to inform their own decisions on study options.

•            Parents should be encouraged to access and use information about labour markets and study options to inform their support of the learners in their care.

Where can I access good quality LMI?

Your Local Enterprise Partnership will be able to provide LMI tailored for the region you are based in. There is a wide range of websites and resources listed in our Gatsby Benchmark toolkit. Please also visit the Careers and Enterprise Company Resource Directory for resource and support in accessing LMI.

Gatsby Benchmark 3 - Addressing the needs of each learner

Opportunities for advice and support need to be tailored to the needs of each learner. A college’s careers programme should embed equality and diversity considerations throughout.


  • A college’s careers programme should seek to challenge stereotypical thinking and raise aspirations.
  • Colleges should keep records of the individual advice given to each learner and subsequent agreed decisions.
  • The records of advice given should be integrated with those given at the previous stage of the learner’s education (including their secondary school) where these are made available.
  • Records should begin to be kept from the first point of contact or the point of transition.
  •  All learners should have access to these records to support their career development.

Colleges should collect and maintain accurate data for each learner on their education, training or employment destinations.

How can I better understand learners’ previous careers guidance experience and learning?

There are significant benefits in ensuring that a learner’s previous learning and careers plans are integrated and built upon as they progress in your institution.

This is possible in some areas through local data sharing arrangements. Talk to your local Enterprise Coordinator to find out more. Please visit the Careers and Enterprise Resource Directory for examples of effective data sharing processes.

Do I need consent from the learner to track their destination?

It is recommended that colleges routinely seek consent from their learners to collect and maintain information on them once they have left college.

Young people can give consent from the age of 14. The DfE created a good template in their best practice guide which you can tailor for your college, there are also examples available in the Careers and Enterprise Company’s Resource Directory.

Do colleges still have a statutory obligation to report intended destinations to their Local Authority?

Schools and colleges must report on the intended destinations of Year 11 and 12 learners as part of the September guarantee process.

Each LA must ensure that every young person has a secured place in an education or training provider up to the age of 18. Each LA has a different timeline and process for this so please check with your own LA.

Gatsby Benchmark 4 - Linking curriculum learning to careers

All subject staff should link curriculum learning with careers, even on courses which are not specifically occupation-led. For example, STEM subject staff should highlight the relevance of STEM subjects for a wide range of future career paths.


  • Learners experience curriculum learning that highlights the relevance of their subject to future career paths
  • learners are aware of the importance of maths and English for their career

How can I support all learners to understand the relevance of Maths and English?

The Careers Leader can support all staff to understand the importance of all learners understanding the importance of English and Maths for their careers.

This could be incorporated into a strategic objective within a Careers Leader’s strategic careers plan. Careers Leaders could consider CPD and resource opportunities for supporting staff to mobilise around this key messaging.

Gatsby Benchmark 5 - Encounters with employers and employees

Every learner should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace. This can be through activities including visiting speakers, mentoring and enterprise schemes, and should include learners’ own part-time employment where it exists.


Every year, alongside their study programme, learners should participate in at least two meaningful encounters* with an employer.

At least one encounter should be delivered through their curriculum area.

• Colleges should record and take account of learners’ part-time employment and the influence this has had on their development

*Please refer to the Making it Meaningful Guidance and Checklist for support

What makes an employer encounter meaningful?

To be meaningful an encounter with an employer needs to be planned, learners should be prepared and briefed for the encounter, employers should also be briefed and understand the learners they are presenting to, the encounter should also be followed up with feedback gained from both learners and the employer.

CEC are developing resources to help support schools and colleges and build a common understanding of what makes an encounter meaningful.

Does a virtual encounter with an employer count?

Please refer to our Careers in Context: A Can Do Guide for support on how to ensure that face to face and virtual encounters are meaningful

Gatsby Benchmark 6 - Experiences of workplaces

Every learner should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks.

By the end of their study programme, every learner should have had at least one experience of a workplace, in addition to any part-time jobs they may have.

Do virtual experiences of work count?

Please refer to our Careers in Context: A Can Do Guide for support on how to ensure that face to face and virtual encounters are meaningful

What are the Health & Safety requirements for work experience placements?

We know that Health & Safety is a key concern for staff when considering work experience placements. The Health & Safety Executive have produced some guidance which you can also share with parents and employers. 

Gatsby Benchmark 7 - Encounters with Further and Higher Education

All learners should understand the full range of learning opportunities that are available to them. This includes both academic and vocational routes, and learning in schools, colleges, universities and in the workplace


  • By the end of their programme of study, every learner should have had a meaningful encounter with a range of providers of learning and training that may form the next stage of their career.
  • This should include, as appropriate, further education colleges, higher education and apprenticeship and training providers.  This should include the opportunity to meet staff and learners..

If a young person is studying a vocational course at a college, do they need a further meaningful encounter with a range of FE providers?

It is important that all learners, whatever their ability, understand the full range of options that may form the next stage of their career so they can make an informed choice when making decisions at 16, 18 or when they look to make transition onto their next stage of learning. This includes the full range of learning locations and qualifications on offer.

Gatsby Benchmark 8 - Personal guidance

Every learner should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a career adviser, who could be internal (a member of college staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level. These should be available whenever significant study or career choices are being made. They should be expected for all learners but should be timed to meet their individual needs.


Every learner should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a Careers Adviser, who could be internal (a member of college staff) or external, provided they are trained to an appropriate level*. These should be available for all learners whenever significant study or career choices are being made. They should be expected for all learners but should be timed to meet individual needs. Every learner should have at least one such interview by the end of their study programme

Do all learners have to have an interview with a Level 6 qualified adviser?

Government  guidance states that  ‘Government’s expectation is that every learner should have had at least one (such) interview by the age of 18 (in addition to one by the age of 16).’

As a world class standard, Gatsby Benchmark 8 is asking how many young people have had at least one interview with a qualified* (see below for clarity in cases of large cohorts) careers adviser by the end of their programme of study. The benchmark also asks proportion of learners who have had an actual interview. To meet the benchmark fully then all learners will have had at least one interview with a qualified* adviser.

*With reference to government guidance on the ‘appropriate level’ of training referenced within the BM wording, there is acceptance that “colleges with larger cohorts sometimes use an adviser qualified to level 4 to provide careers advice but should make sure access to a careers adviser, trained to at least level 6, is available if needed”.