As per normal at about this time of year, there are a flurry of reports on how unemployable young people are. The Taylor Report & the CBI/Pearson report being just 2. Each report is making headlines, telling us how the country is going to go down the tubes unless we take action against the skills gap and the country is going to hell in a handcart.
First some numbers from the CBI/Pearson report
- 84% of businesses surveyed do not feel the quality of careers advice young people receive in schools is good enough. The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), the recently created body tasked with improving business-school links, is known to 21% of firms and encouragingly 75% of those surveyed indicated a willingness to play a greater role by delivering careers advice directly in schools and colleges.
- More than a third (35%) of businesses say there is too little guidance and support on how to make work experience places worthwhile for young people
- Firms believe there is a lack of awareness among young people of the education routes they need to take to enter particular careers (50%) and careers advice being poorly aligned to the sectors (49%), which leads to skill shortages
- Levels of awareness and understanding across business about the new GCSE grading system are growing, but 35% of respondents are wholly unaware of the reforms in England.
OK so how do we read this? It sounds solidly to me that companies are pretty unhappy with the way young people are prepared for working lives in the UK. Yet…
Four out of five (81%) businesses have at least some links with schools and/or colleges, with connections most widespread between businesses and secondary schools (66%) and FE colleges (63%)
So does this mean that business links and employer engagement are not working? NO! It simply means that there is something missing from the mix – professional careers advice.
The easiest way to explain it is to say it’s like baking a cake with no baking powder. Everything else is there, Flour (the information); Sugar (the opinion); Eggs (the widening of options) What is missing is the magic ingredient that makes it all come together and become a cake :- Baking Powder (The careers professional.) The person who has a post graduate level qualification and who undertakes regular CPD to stay abreast of current developments. Who has a code of ethics that unequivocally states that information they give must be in the best interests of the person receiving the advice.
Since 2012 many schools haven’t had a careers adviser at all. A whole generation of school leavers are confused. Even those schools who have paid for careers advisers up until recently I’ve seen many cut funding for careers advisers, it’s seen by many as an easy win.In these economically challenging times for schools it’s easy to say it’s a luxury. When looking at school priorities it may be, but if looked at from the point of view of the Government is it really? What is the long term effect?
“There is genuine alarm about the quality and consistency of careers advice available in many schools. Companies aren’t asking teachers to do more – schools need support to do this, from the long-awaited Careers Strategy, the CEC and businesses rolling up their sleeves and helping.”
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General
The Taylor report, from Matthew Taylor at the RSA suggests
a national framework for employability skills so we can develop the kind of transferable capabilities that can be acquired in formal education and also informal and on the job learning
Is this really the answer? Are we just supplying another set of tick box criteria? We already have Personal Learning & Thinking Skills.
What does the Taylor Report & The CBI/Pearson report mean schools should do?
Given they have been given no money for CEIAG since being handed the duty to deliver in 2012. Nor do most schools have a person with enough knowledge to lead on CEIAG. What can schools do?
- The CDI & Careers England have both been working hard behind the scenes to help educate and support the DFE in the needs of schools to be able to deliver quality CEIAG.
- National Careers Week has been working to provide free resources and information for schools.
What we need now is schools to come together to press the Government to fund a basic education need. Good quality CEIAG for all young people.