As the government launches a new careers service, Channel 4 News looks at whether career guidance has ever been relevant to helping people into work, and what the new service offers.

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What did your careers teacher advise you to do in later life? If the many responses to Channel 4 News on this subject are anything to go by, it probably won't have any bearing on what you are doing right now.

The government's new national careers service (NCS) will attempt to change that through a combination of face-to-face and online advice, tailored to local areas. Another key development is that this is one service for all ages, so teenagers and adults will have access to online tools and phone advice when they need it. Adults will be able to approach advisors face to face, while schools will be responsible for bringing independent careers advisors in to schools.

But when few adults stick to one career, and when many careers change so quickly, is the role of a careers service still relevant? Working adults regularly change jobs and learn new skills from experience. Employers often want a portfolio of skills rather than one qualification and recent employment figures showed a rise in the number of people who are self-employed, which demands yet another skill set.

Dan Crow, one of the Channel 4 Jobs Report's ambassadors managed to become CTO at Songkick without any careers advice whatsoever - but then his job didn't even exist in the UK when he was at school.

@jenny2183 advised to be a museum curator, am now an Account Manager for a design agency
@TriForceRecruit
taught me nothing. I've always been an entrepreneur. Can that be taught?
@clairevgrasby I was advised to be an undertaker as I'm good with people and don't mind heavy lifting #C4news I'm now a drugs worker
@CupboardMonster no advise per se. did automated tick the box exercise: suggested I be a farmer. am now a commercial litigation solicitor.

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Careers advice 'more important than ever'

For careers advice to be effective, it now needs to be given at different stages throughout our working lives, Professor Tony Watts, international career specialist told Channel 4 News.

"People have to construct their career throughout their life, rather than choosing it at one point. It's a very different concept now," he said, but insists that it is still relevant. "For many people, these are very complex decisions. You're making a decision about who you think you are, who you want to be and how you want to live your life. That's why face-to-face advice is so important."

For many people, these are very complex decisions. You're making a decision about who you think you are, who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Professor Tony Watts

In fact careers advice is even more crucial given the more varied number of employment options available, says James Fothergill, CBI’s head of education and skills.

"It is more important now than ever to ensure that they have the relevant information to make informed choices about their future," he told Channel 4 News. "There is a need to bring careers advice into the 21st century, by harnessing the power of the information revolution."

While CBI, which represents 240,000 businesses, welcomed the launch of the NCS, Mr Fothergill added that more engagement in the service from employers would pay dividends.

@mrdrh advised: shelf stacking .. doing: masters in strategy & IT
@Carrie_O_HARA
My English teacher told me to teach English and Drama: exactly what I'm doing now.Good careers advice: pillar of the economy!
@Jackg00de
My Careers Advisor said I should be in Logistics and Im now doing a PhD in Biosensors #c4jobs
@BinkyAirways
Did not really get any real advice so made poor decision to go to Uni. Now unemployed and on JSA #c4jobs

Previous provision 'poor quality and patchy'

Over half of its members believe that school leavers' self-management skills are not good enough, and over two-thirds believe they have inadequate business and customer awareness. But businesses are keen to try and help - research by the CBI found that over half of companies want to be more involved in delivering a careers service.

"Overwhelmingly, the evidence suggests there hasn’t been enough engagement, and employers are keen to do more," said Mr Fothergill. "The appetite to support schools is particularly strong among employers who say they are currently dissatisfied with careers advice."

It's everything from advice on what to wear on your first day, what to take to a meeting, through to how to apply your strengths and skills to an appropriate role for you. Ronan Dunne, O2 director

The department of education acknowledges that previous careers provision in schools has been "poor quality and patchy". From September this year, schools will be placed under statutory duty to provide access to independent careers guidance for pupils in years 9 to 11 - although unions and educationalists have criticised the department for and not providing enough support or funding to help.

However Ronan Dunne, director of O2, speaks for many entrepreneurs and businesses, when he says he is not convinced that careers advice will ever be enough.

"I believe all businesses, big and small, have a role to play in helping supporting young people on their journey to work," he told Chanel 4 News. "It's everything from advice on what to wear on your first day, what to take to a meeting, through to how to apply your strengths and skills to an appropriate role for you."