Encounters with the world of work have a positive impact on young people's GCSE results – with lower achievers and the less engaged benefiting the most, new research suggests.
A report from charity Education and Employers indicates that participation in career talks can change the attitudes of key stage 4 pupils to their education.
The study found that of those who had three extra careers talks, 7 per cent changed their future plans, while 28 per cent said it made them question their career choices.
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Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, the charity’s head of research, said: "Our previous findings have demonstrated the positive impact of connecting young people to the world of work, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"This report shows that short interactions with volunteers from the world of work can have a powerful impact on attainment.”
Impact on GCSE revision
The study involved 647 pupils in their GCSE year across five schools in England.
Researchers divided them into two groups, one of which received three extra careers talks by employee volunteers on top of the usual career activities organised by their school.
Students in that group reported, on average, a 9 per cent increase in their weekly revision hours, compared with the group without extra talks. And those predicted to achieve a borderline pass in English GCSE reported a 32 per cent increase in planned weekly revision hours, whereas those predicted to get grades 6 to 9 reported a 10 per cent increase.
The analysis, published in a report called "Motivated to Achieve", also found that the equivalent of one student in a class of 25 did better than their predictions by one grade as a result of the careers talks.
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Researchers said that while the effects were modest and will need further exploration as part of a larger trial, it was an important finding – especially given the small costs involved in providing additional career talks.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: "A chance to experience the world of work first-hand can play a huge part in helping young people to develop the skills and personal qualities they need for workplaces, as well as showing them how the subjects they are learning at school are relevant in later life.
"This report underlines the value of good careers education, which builds confidence, broadens horizons and fuels ambition.
"Good careers education must be available to as many young people as possible, which is why we're investing in careers education and why I fully support Education and Employers' mission to strengthen the ties between schools and the world of work."