MPs have delivered a scathing report on careers advice in many schools, warning that the "inadequate" guidance being given to youngsters is fuelling the country's skills crisis.
Too many young people were leaving schools in England without having the chance to consider future work options, said a Parliamentary committee.
The Government was urged to untangle the "unruly and complex" web of organisations and websites offering careers advice and to put a minister in charge of provision.
A host of policy changes and initiatives in recent years have failed to make improvements and in some cases have been counter productive, said a new sub-committee formed by the Business and Education Committees.
Neil Carmichael, who chairs the Education Committee, said: "At a time when it is vital we equip young people with the right skills for their working lives, it's concerning that so many are being failed by the guidance they receive.
"Careers advice should be a core part of a young person's schooling but at the moment it is little more than a poorly thought out add-on. Schools should be incentivised to treat careers education, advice, information and guidance as a priority.
"The committee recommends Ofsted plays a bigger role in ensuring careers guidance is up to scratch by downgrading those who do not deliver high quality provision. A school should not be graded as 'good' if its careers provision is inadequate.'
Iain Wright, chairman of the Business Committee, said: "The world of business and work is changing rapidly. There is huge choice in the career paths young people could embark upon and rapid change also means that there will be opportunities for jobs and professions in new and emerging industries.
"In this context, young people and their parents need the best possible and clear guidance to inform their choices and decisions. Yet initiative after initiative has rained down from Government in recent years with regards to careers guidance, creating a confusing and costly mess when what we really need is a clear picture.
"With the skills gap widening, it is essential that young people are well-informed about the experiences, qualifications and training they need to pursue their chosen careers and that the guidance they are given is grounded in accurate information about the jobs market."
Education and childcare minister Sam Gyimah said: "Our reforms are already leaving pupils better prepared for further study and work - we now have the lowest number of NEETs (people not in education, employment or training) on record and the highest ever number of young people going into higher education.
"But we know that careers education varies hugely. That is why we have made it mandatory for all schools and colleges to secure independent careers guidance for all 12 to 18-year-olds, and are investing £90 million over this parliament to transform careers education and guidance including funding the Careers & Enterprise Company to work with schools to develop closer links with employers.
"The Government strategy for improved careers education, due to be published later this year, will also provide a road map for this parliament and set out what we want to achieve by 2020."