Exclusive: Less than half of school leavers use a careers adviser

Twice as many students aware of Ucas compared to the apprenticeship route

News article image

Less than half of school leavers say they receive information and guidance from a careers adviser at their school or college, a survey has found.

The poll by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) also found a much higher knowledge of Ucas compared to the apprenticeship route.

The AAT surveyed more than 1,000 17- to 18-year-olds who intend to leave school after completing their A levels this summer.

The survey reveals that only 43 per cent say they receive careers information and guidance from a careers adviser at their school or college. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of the respondents said they needed more advice than they currently receive on their future options.

Unaware of alternatives

Ensuring all school and colleges have a dedicated careers leader is a priority for the government, which has allocated £4 million to put dedicated careers specialists in place by the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

The survey also found that university was the destination which students had the most knowledge of, with twice as many school leavers (72 per cent) saying they were aware of UCAS compared to the National Apprenticeship Service (36 per cent).

About one in 20 students (6 per cent) intending to complete a Ucas form said they were doing so only because they had been told to complete one. A further 4 per cent said they were unaware of any alternatives to the university route.

'Staggeringly hard'

This comes on the same day that Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, wrote about the difficulties his son had experienced trying to look for a higher apprenticeship. 

"I spent a large part of the Christmas holidays helping him to apply for higher and degree-level apprenticeships. It is staggeringly hard even to find the right opportunities," Mr Johnson writes in The Times

"My son wants to be a computer programmer or software developer. Apparently, this is a shortage occupation. You wouldn’t know it from the scarcity of openings.

"By comparison, there are hundreds of relevant degree courses, all clearly advertised. In addition, apprenticeship applications tend to be far more complex than the Ucas application process, which gives you access to the whole university system.

"Many appear to be barely edited versions of the graduate application process — hardly encouraging, or suitable, for the average 17-year-old. Everything points to university, as the default," he adds.

Careers portal

The AAT survey also found that only 50 per cent of school leavers had heard of the National Careers Service, which was set up the government in 2012 to provide information and advice to people making decisions on learning, training and work.

Suzie Webb, director of education and development at the AAT, said:“Deciding the first step to take after leaving school can, for many, feel critical towards determining their eventual career.

“However, our research suggests that information and advice is somewhat lacking – and arguably biased towards the university route.

“While continued academia will prove the right choice for many school leavers, there is certainly more that can be done to ensure they are presented with all the options available.

"An integrated online portal, bringing together the Ucas, National Apprenticeship Service and other non-academic websites under one managed service could be a great start to ensure equal coverage of all routes to employment.”

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you