Speaking in the main hall at the recent Conservative Party conference, the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, highlighted the importance of careers advice and guidance for young people and particularly ‘the key role that is played by careers advisers in schools.’
The Secretary of State committed the Government to ‘doubling the number of trained careers leaders in schools so young people are aware about all those different routes. So they don’t think there is only one route they can take to success, and they are aware of all the different career options available to them’.
This is good news, but out in the fringe another barrier to young people’s thinking about different routes was widely debated. It seems the advice of mum and dad is that going to university is only game in town.
At a fringe on the Monday lunchtime, a panel session of three young apprentices, chaired by Gillian Keegan MP, who started her own career as an apprentice, highlighted all the positives. Learning and earning from the start, a fast-track into employment. One of the panel already had enough savings to buy her own home!
Yet despite the benefits of taking an apprenticeship route, all three panellists spoke about the barriers put in their way. One said, his dad ‘went ballistic’ when he ditched his university course and decided to pursue an apprenticeship.
A packed breakfast fringe event about apprenticeships on the Tuesday heard similar themes, when Anne Milton, the Skills Minister, was ‘in conversation’ with her predecessor, Robert Halfon. Robert Halfon is now the influential chair of the Education Committee.
While both politicians spoke passionately about the advantages of apprenticeships, there were concerns expressed about the barriers facing young people who choose an apprenticeship and the sometimes negative views of their peers, schools and parents.
The influence of parents on whether young people choose an apprenticeship, came up again at another fringe meeting to launch a publication by the Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and a Changing Economy, a group of college and university leaders and education think-tanks. The Commission was chaired by Neil Carmichael, the former Chairman of the education committee.
Anne Milton was also a panellist here and so it was no surprise that the debate turned to the quality of careers advice and the need for high quality careers advice and information for young people. Clearly the influence of parents in young people’s decision-making about their future careers is still an over-whelming factor.