PUPILS are making the wrong career choices because school advice services are a "mess" following a shake-up, a North-East MP warned after carrying out an inquiry.

Pat Glass, the Durham North West MP, is a member of the Tory-led education select committee, which tomorrow (Wednesday, January 23) condemns a "worrying deterioration" in the help on offer.

Its report attacks the mistake of handing responsibility for careers guidance to individual schools, axing the Connexions service, run by local authorities.

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A new National Careers Service (NCS) was launched by the government last year, but it does not work with schools and does not offer face-to-face advice - at a time of high youth unemployment.

Ms Glass said: "Schools in County Durham are really struggling, because they recognise they do not have the money or the expertise to give the best advice.

"Many of them are now trying to get together to buy that expertise from the county council - but it is having to make cuts and many of the staff that provided advice were made redundant. It's a mess.

"We end up with young people making the wrong choices and going down career cul-de-sacs, on the wrong courses, which is costly for both them and for the economy."

Ms Glass said she was aware of some local schools refusing to promote options at further education colleges, adding: "It is in their advantage to channel pupils to their own sixth forms."

Tomorrow's (Thursday, January 23) report does not call for the revival of Connexions - itself criticised for patchy advice - arguing that would lead to "greater uncertainty and upheaval".

Instead, it urged ministers to ensure the NCS was properly funded to provide face-to-face advice in schools and called for schools to publish an annual careers plan, including information on the support available to students.