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Teachers pass the buck on careers;Briefing;Research focus

Teachers are no better informed than other adults or even pupils, when it comes to offering advice on careers. Nor are they able to see the difference between careers education and careers advice.

Primary teachers believe that their secondary colleagues should be responsible for the former while secondary staff prefer to pass the buck to careers services.

Research from Southampton University, based on a survey of 71 teachers from 14 primary and secondary schools in Hampshire, found that teachers got information about careers from friends, personal experience, the media or seeing others in the workplace.

Stereotypes abounded, with teachers seeing lawyers as high-earning, high status professionals, while nursing was considered lowly paid but secure, and engineering as male-dominated.

While, in general, teachers agreed that knowledge of information and communications technology was vital to the working world, when it came to specific careers it got a lesser rating - and was not even considered a key skill for engineering.

Most teachers were confident about academic routes to careers, but had little knowledge when it came to vocational routes.

"We have to tackle the widely held belief of 'education for the more able pupils, vocational training for the failures, and no more education after you get a job'," note co-authors Jane Hemsley-Brown and Nicholas Foskett. "Positive attitudes to lifelong learning must start early."

They suggest in-service training and teacher industrial placements would help, and that training and enterprise councils could provide support.

"Teachers and careers education," Nicholas Foskett and Jane Hemsley-Brown, Southampton University

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