Careers service needs advice

Pupils science dreams are being shattered, but whodunit? A report commissioned by the Science Council shows the trail of evidence leads straight to careers advisers.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) is calling for dramatic improvements in the quality of guidance provided to pupils, after one girl was told to "engage her interest in chemistry" by auditioning for a forensics-themed television show instead of studying for a degree.

"We heard some shocking stories of the appalling advice young people were given about the options open to them if they studied science or engineering," said CaSE's director, Dr Peter Cotgreave.

"The information that already exists needs more coordination and quality control, we need to get parents much more closely involved in the process.

"Government, schools and the science community all need to work harder and we need to stop banging on about specific careers and help children realise that studying sciences keeps open a huge range of opportunities for the future, some of which will be based in science and many others will not.

"Big challenges, like climate change actually excite young people, but to make a difference, many of them will need good training as scientists or engineers, and it's not clear that this message is getting through."

Dr Cotgreave added:"There are many problems with getting enough young people to study science and many of them seem intractable, but the problems with advice and guidance about careers constitute a soluble problem."

* www.sciencecampaign.org.ukdocuments2007CaSE0704.pdf

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