Welcoming the findings as he opened the newly-refurbished Careers Service at Hammersmith, education and employment minister James Paice said:
'The chief inspector's annual report makes it clear that careers services have made great strides in the past year. They have become more customer-focused, looking at what their customers want and how best to provide it.
'The report highlights their tremendous progress with young people in Years 9 and 10. They now provide young people with a greater number of opportunities for interviews, more group discussions and the right information to make the right choices and be better prepared for working life.
The report shows:
-- Earlier, more extensive and imaginative work with pupils in Years 9 and 10, preparing them better for subject choices and later careers guidance
-- Substantial improvements in in-service training for careers advisers and careers teachers involving more joint training
-- More effective working relationships with schools and colleges
-- The boosting of the Careers Services by the commercial expertise brought by their Board members
-- The new offices opened by many Careers Services are attractive and accessible to young people and employers alike
-- And most significantly, effective management systems are now in place to ensure high quality services
The report also identifies room for improvement, such as:
-- The services' job-broking activities
-- Ensuring an extensive process of careers education and guidance before the young people's action plans are drawn up
-- A need to improve the collection and use made of labour market information in careers guidance
The annual report confirms findings published last month in the independent evaluation report on the performance of Pathfinder Careers Services by the National Foundation for Educational Research and Training.
-- The Trades Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993 transferred responsibility for careers services from local education authority control and placed them with the secretary of state for education and employment. There are currently 66 careers services operating under contract in England.