National Careers Service

The National Careers Service is the publicly funded careers service for adults and young people (aged 13 or over) in England.

Launched in April 2012, it brings together elements of previous publicly funded careers services for adults and young people.

The launch was reported by the BBC[1] and commented on by organisations such as NIACE,[2] the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services,[3] and NAEGA.[4]

The National Careers Service provides information, advice and guidance on learning, training, career choice, career development, job search, and the labour market. It can be accessed online, by telephone, and face to face (for people aged 19 and over).

The aims of the service are to provide:

  • “high-quality information about careers and skills, and independent, professional advice and guidance”
  • “a focus on specialist careers guidance, built on the principles of independence and professional standards”
  • “information, advice and guidance both to inform and to stimulate demand for further education, work-based training and higher education.”[5]


The idea of a careers service for everyone aged 13 and over was raised in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills strategy document ‘Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth’ published in November 2010.[6] Plans for the new service were laid out in a further document, ‘New Challenges, New Chances: Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan: Building a World Class Skills System’, published December 2011.[5]

Next Step

Prior to the National Careers Service, the publicly funded careers service for adults in England was known as Next Step.

Next Step launched on 1 August 2010 and for the first time fully integrated the web-based, telephone-based and local face to face careers services for adults.[7]

Connexions Direct

Telephone and web-based advice for young people was previously provided through Connexions Direct, which was part of the wider Connexions service.


The National Careers Service is funded and managed by the Skills Funding Agency, a partner agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Services provided

The remit of the National Careers Service is to provide “information, advice and guidance to help [customers] make decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. The service offers confidential, helpful and impartial advice, supported by qualified careers advisers.”[8]

This includes support with:

  • CV writing
  • understanding the job market
  • searching and applying for jobs
  • interview techniques
  • searching for courses and training schemes
  • finding funding to support learning
  • finding out about volunteering opportunities to help develop work skills
  • identifying key strengths and skills
  • exploring career options
  • choosing training routes
  • developing a plan for career goals.[8]

The service also participates in national learning campaigns such as Adult Learners' Week.[9]

Whilst available to any individual aged 13+, National Careers Service focuses on supporting six priority groups to get into work. These include: young people aged 18-24 who are not in education, employment or training; those unemployed for more than 12 months; low-skilled adults; single parents; unemployed adults over 50; and adults with special educational needs or who have a disability.[10]

The National Careers Service offer is available throughout England, with devolved responsibility for careers advice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Publicly funded careers services for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are provided by Careers Service Northern Ireland,[11] Skills Development Scotland[12] and Careers Wales[13] respectively, while there is also a dedicated careers service for the Isle of Man.[14]

How the service is accessed

The National Careers Service can be accessed online, by telephone, or face-to-face for those who are 19 or over.


The National Careers Service website contains self-service sections which can be used independently of careers advisers to access careers information and plan and implement career development activities.

Sections include:

  • Interactive career tools[15] - tools including a CV builder,[16] skills assessment package,[17] and action planning tool.[18] People aged 13 or over can register on the website to create a Lifelong Learning Account, a personal online space that can store the output of the interactive tools, details of current qualifications, course search results, and funding information.[19]
  • Careers advice[20] - pages with information and advice on a range of subjects related to learning and careers, such as how to find funding, dealing with redundancy, advice for ex-offenders and returning to the workplace. This section includes a library of over 750 job profiles.[21] The job profiles provide descriptions of job roles, details of entry routes and training, the qualifications and skills required, and hyperlinks to associated professional bodies and organisations.

The website also provides the facility to email an adviser[22] or talk to an adviser by webchat,[22] and has online community areas including forums.[23]

Mobile website

The National Careers Service mobile website was developed to provide a mobile friendly platform for accessing learning and work related information helping service users to develop a CV, search for work, prepare for an interview and more.

It includes a job profile section with information about specific job roles, what they involve, the qualifications you’ll need and where to look for vacancies.

The National Careers Service mobile website has continually updated content, with special features including:

  • Click to contact the free helpline service - 0800 100 900
  • Sharing information with friends via Facebook, Twitter and email
  • Graphic novels which show how careers advice can help you take the next step in work and life
  • New careers tips and quotes every week
  • Regular careers advice articles covering everything from how to answer difficult questions in an interview to using social media in your job search
  • Careers events specific to your local area
  • Fun infographics presenting interesting data in graphic form, giving you a quick and easy summary of useful information.


The telephone number for the National Careers Service helpline is 0800 100 900 and the helpline is open every day between 8am and 10pm.[22]

Customers of all ages use the same phone number and then select options for young people or for adults – advice for these groups is provided by two separate organisations.[24]

Minicom users can access the service through the number 08000 968 336[25] (for people aged 13 to 18), or 08000 568 865[22] (for people aged 19 or over).

The National Careers Service also has dedicated numbers which provide support in the languages listed below:

  • Farsi 0800 093 1116
  • French 0800 093 1115
  • Gujarati 0800 093 1119
  • Polish 0800 093 1114
  • Punjabi 0800 093 1333
  • Somali 0800 093 1555
  • Sylheti 0800 093 1444
  • Urdu 0800 093 1118

These lines are available for people aged 19 or over only and are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (Punjabi and Urdu 9am to 8pm). This facility is promoted among non-English speaking communities to those who want to improve their English skills and employment opportunities.[26]


Adults may be able to get face-to-face guidance in their community. People aged 19 or over can request a face-to-face appointment at a local office of the National Careers Service. To book an appointment, customers can call the telephone helpline who will put them in contact with their regional hub, and from there an appointment will be made at the customer’s local office.[27]

People aged 18 who are claiming benefits or who are in custody are also eligible for face-to-face advice through the National Careers Service.[28]

The service will have a presence in other organisations, including Jobcentres, FE colleges, community centres, shops and places of worship.[5]

Quality standards

All local centres and the contact centre providers must undergo a matrix Standard assessment, with all providers meeting the enhanced matrix Standard by the end of March 2013.[5][29]

The matrix Standard is an independent quality standard for information, advice and guidance services. To achieve accreditation, organisations must undergo inspection and show that they meet requirements around leadership and management, resources, service delivery and continuous quality improvement.

Facts and figures

The Government aims for the National Careers Service to have the capacity to help 700,000 adults face-to-face each year, handle up to one million telephone advice sessions and provide 20 million online sessions.[5]


  1. "New careers service launched". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  2. "NIACE welcomes National Careers Service - Learning & Work".
  3. "The latest news articles from AGCAS".
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Investing in skills for sustainable growth: strategy document". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  6. "SKILLS FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH : Consultation on the future direction of skills policy" (PDF). July 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  7. "About us - National Careers Service". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  8. "Charity secures major deal to deliver career services across south east". Kent Online. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  9. "Careers - nidirect". 23 December 2015.
  10. "Scotland's national skills agency". Skills Development Scotland.
  11. "Home : Careers Wales".
  12. "Isle of Man Government - Careers guidance".
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Careers advice - job profiles, information and resources - National Careers Service".
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  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-11. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. "Careers advice - job profiles, information and resources - National Careers Service".
  18. "Careers advice - job profiles, information and resources - National Careers Service".
  19. "Job profiles - National Careers Service".
  20. "Contact us - National Careers Service".
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. "Careers advice - job profiles, information and resources - National Careers Service".
  23. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-26. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2012-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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