Careers talks can add £2,000 to pupils' future salaries, research finds

A 14-year-old who is given six careers talks can expect a salary boost of £2,000 by the age of 26, academics have shown

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Giving teenage students careers talks could add up to £2,000 on to their salaries by the time they reach their mid-twenties, new research suggests.

Careers talks have most impact on pupils' future earnings when they take place at the age of 14, the study of 5,947 students reveals.

Elnaz Kashefpakdel, of the University of Bath, and independent researcher Christian Percy found that, for each talk students are given between the ages of 14 and 15, their wages at the age of 26 increase.

Pupils aged 14-15 went on to experience a wage premium of 1.6 per cent for each career talk that they found very helpful. A 14-year-old who received six careers talks could expect to earn an additional £2,000 at age 26, if in full-time employment.

Social capital

Students aged 15-16 received a 0.9 per cent wage premium by the time they were 26, but only for those careers talks that they found very helpful.

Other factors that influenced pupils' future earnings, including economic status, academic ability and demographics, were taken into account by the academics.

The researchers suggested that the difference in impact for the different age groups could be explained by the fact that the older pupils were focused on exams, while the younger group were still exploring options for post-16 study and work.

They point out that career talks provide young people with a form of social capital, helping them to make better-informed choices as they progress through school.  

'Impact in later life'

Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said: “Everyone would expect that career insights which children obtain early in school will change the way they engage with learning in related subjects, their view of their own future and their career aspirations. For the first time, it has now been possible to provide evidence for that.”

The research, published in the Journal of Education and Work, used data from the British Cohort Study, which tracks people born in 1970 through the course of their lifetimes.

Anthony Mann, director of policy and research at the charity Education and Employers, which commissioned the research, said that even an hour-long careers talk could have an impact on pupils in later life.

“This demonstrates how much young people can benefit when employers and schools work together,” he said. “The more exposure young people have to professional careers provision, the better.”

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