Only 1% of students influenced most by careers advice

The poor quality of careers advice is limiting young people's choices, according to the Edge Foundation

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Poor careers advice is leading to a quarter of young further education students leaving school without a clear career plan, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick and commissioned by the Edge Foundation and City & Guilds, also found only 1 per cent of students viewed careers advice as the most important influence on their decision to stay on in further education.

Over half of FE students said that they wanted more information from employers, while a quarter of respondents stressed their parents, rather than careers advisers, were the most important source of information about the world of work.

However, 62 per cent of young students stated the most important reason for them staying in FE was because they believed it would help them get a good job. According to the Edge Foundation, apprentices had a clearer vision of their career path because they were able to access information and advice directly from their employer. Almost 40 per cent of the apprentices said their employer was the most important source of information about the job market. 

Better careers advice needed

The report was based on the first wave of results from a survey of more than 600 learners in vocational education, predominantly aged 16-19. Alice Barnard, chief executive of the Edge Foundation, said that the poor quality of careers information, advice and guidance was 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," she said. "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.”

In January, Nicky Morgan, who was education secretary at the time, announced plans for new legislation, which would compel state schools to give vocational routes as much weight as academic options when providing careers advice to pupils.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We know the importance of good careers education and guidance in helping young people, whatever their background, make informed choices, climb the ladder of opportunity, and go on to fulfilling jobs. That is why we are investing £90 million over this Parliament to transform the quality of the careers education, advice and guidance offered to young people across the country.

“All maintained schools must provide independent guidance for pupils on the full range of education and training options and the Careers and Enterprise Company is also doing vital work helping schools and colleges develop closer links with businesses, including launching a nationwide network of advisers, so they can play a greater role in preparing young people for the world of work.”

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