More than a third of pupils are missing out on work experience while at secondary school, new research shows.
A report from the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) found that just 63 per cent of young people have gained workplace experience by the time they finish Year 11, and one in five (18 per cent) are missing out on yearly "employment encounters" such as mentoring and enterprise schemes.
Statutory guidance published in 2018 states that every school should meet the Gatsby Benchmarks – eight guidelines for quality careers advice – by the end of 2020.
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This includes the expectation that "every student should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks".
And pupils should also have seven encounters with employers during their time at secondary school – at least one each year from Year 7 to Year 13.
However, today's report shows that schools are not currently meeting either target.
The careers service behind the report has been heavily criticised by MPs since it was established by former education secretary Nicky Morgan in 2014.
In 2018, the chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, expressed “deep concerns” about the CEC – calling it “ludicrously wasteful”.
He criticised the company for spending £200,000 on two conferences, including one at a children’s play centre, adding: "Salaries are too high – its CEO earns almost as much as the prime minister. And it has spent £900,000 on research, with another projected [to cost] £200,000 a year to come."
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said of the CEC report: "It is incredibly encouraging to see so many businesses coming together to deliver so much for their local communities.
"This government has set out an ambitious vision for careers education. We want all young people to have regular, inspiring, meaningful interactions with the world of work.
"Achieving this will help businesses broaden and diversify their talent pipeline. But it’s also about inspiring young people, promoting social mobility and giving every young person the opportunity to succeed."