New report - Parents left to fill careers info gap

A study published by the Edge Foundation and City & Guilds has found that a quarter of young people in further education are leaving school with little or no idea of what they want to do with their future, because of poor careers guidance.

Alarmingly, careers advice is not informing their choices with only one per cent saying it was the most important influence on their decision to stay on in further education, the same percentage who stayed on ‘because my friends were doing the same.’ Well over half said they wanted more information from employers and 24 per cent said their parents were their most important source of information about the job market.

Chief Executive of the Edge Foundation, Alice Barnard:

‘The poor quality of careers information, advice and guidance is compromising students’ choices and leaving a significant proportion of young people with no sense of direction for their future. Naturally you expect young people to seek advice from mum and dad, but many parents and carers will just not know enough about the range of career or learning opportunities to be the main influencer in such an important decision. This can lead to young people simply taking a default option to ‘keep their options open’ rather than developing the skills they need for a productive career.

‘There are currently over 650,000 19-24 year olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), and I fear this number will rise further unless young people can access quality careers information. It is especially beneficial for youngsters from the most disadvantaged backgrounds as it can help to compensate for the lack of social capital their better off peers enjoy.’

Despite the lack of available careers advice, young people clearly value further education as a route into a career. The majority (62%) of respondents said the most important reason for them staying on in further education is because it will help them to get a good job. Apprentices had a much clearer vision of their career path as they are able to access information and advice directly from their employer.

The report is the first wave of results from a longitudinal study of learners in vocational education undertaken by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick and commissioned by the Edge Foundation and City & Guilds. Further waves will focus on employment status, job satisfaction, wages and intentions towards further study.

Over 600 young people, mainly aged 16-19 years are taking part and comprise college-based students in full or part-time study and apprentices engaged in work-based learning. Almost 40 per cent of the apprentices said their employer was the most important source of information about the job market; they were more likely to know what they wanted to do and the qualification they needed to have for it.

Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds:

‘Sadly these findings come as no shock to me. Last year we commissioned a study among 14-19 year olds and found a similarly worrying picture of patchy or incorrect careers advice, and a complete lack of understanding among young people about the breadth of the jobs market. It’s clear from today’s findings that young people benefit so much from the chance to meet with and be inspired by employers, and yet this is just not happening enough.

‘This report adds to the growing canon of evidence that there is a postcode lottery for careers advice for young people and, despite their best intentions, mums and dads will usually talk about careers they know without understanding labour market needs.’

You can find the full report here.

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