Every school should have a “high quality” trained careers leader to oversee careers advice, introduce employability into the curriculum and build links with employers, further and higher education, according to a new report.
Educational charity Teach First is calling for teachers to be put at the heart of careers education in schools to prepare pupils for work. Without this, it warns, careers education will remain “fragmented and ineffective”, undermining economic growth and hitting disadvantaged children the hardest.
Its report, Careers Education in the Classroom, which is published today, also calls on the government’s new careers and enterprise company to focus on schools in challenging circumstances and on pupils at risk of becoming Neet (not in education, employment or training).
To mark National Careers Week, the charity has also launched its own careers training for Teach First teachers in middle leadership positions.
Jude Heaton, Teach First’s director for HE access and employability, said teachers were too often seen as an “afterthought” when it came to careers advice.
“This needs to change,” he said. “As today’s research demonstrates, we know that with the right support, the right training, and the right incentives to support pupils with careers learning, teachers are the crucial part of the careers puzzle.
“But they can’t do it alone. The long-term systemic change necessary requires efforts from policymakers, employers and the rest of civil society. It is time for all of us to act.”
The proposals have the backing of senior politicians including Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws and Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, who called it a “first-rate plan of action”.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan MP said that some schools and colleges did “fantastic” work, but too often provision was “patchy” and in some places inadequate.
“It is clear that many schools and colleges need additional support if we are to ensure that every young person receives the life-changing advice and inspiration they need to fulfil their potential and succeed in life,” Ms Morgan said.
“This is why we have created a new careers and enterprise company to support schools with external links to boost employability and why we welcome this excellent report and Teach First’s vision.”
Meanwhile, a separate report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), published today, shows that more than half of UK employers believe a lack of soft skills is hindering young people’s readiness for work.
The BCC workforce survey, Developing the Talents of the Next Generation, found that 57 per cent of employers cite a lack of soft skills such as communication, resilience and team working as the main reason for young people being unprepared for work.
The survey also found that employers think a lack of focus on employability and enterprise in schools and colleges (53 per cent) and a lack of careers advice (46 per cent) affects young people’s prospects.
The BCC is proposing a number of measures to get educators and businesses working together to help young people develop the life skills they need to succeed.
These include measuring schools on their pupils’ career destinations, a guaranteed business governor at every secondary school, promoting enterprise modules for all FE students, and universal "experience of work" in all schools to improve employment prospects.
Employers brought in to classrooms for careers advice shake up - December 2014
Careers advice is a 'postcode lottery', warns Sutton Trust - October 2014