Last week the BBC reported that careers advice in Wales is ‘out of date, too generic and comes too late’. It’s not just Welsh students who are suffering this fate as it seems to be a widespread problem across the UK. According to the report careers advice is the weakest area of learning support in the 14 to 16 year olds age group – a critical time when students either choose to sit their GCSEs or leave full time education to enter work or apprenticeships. It is flabbergasting that a country who has just struggled through a deep recession still hasn’t thought through their careers advice for the most needy and receptive demographic who are by and large eager to work and to make the best of themselves.
However, it sadly doesn’t come as a shock: when I was at secondary school the only means of advice we were offered career wise was an automated computer programme that you used to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers that magically predict whether you were going to be a funeral director or more excitingly an astronaut. At 14, being both scared of dying and terrified of heights, I thought I was doomed!
Yesterday the BBC also published another report stating that ‘Parents play a key role in their children’s career decisions, but their views are often out of date and badly informed.’ The majority of young people (70%) turn to their parents to discuss their professional future – having realised that school is not helping them enough – and they are often told to become something safe and traditional. However, many of these professions may not be best suited to their child’s abilities and interests or take into consideration the emerging industries (or indeed sectors where there are no longer many jobs available) in the UK.
Hopefully these Ofsted-backed reports will push schools, families and employers to work together to help guide our young people through one of the trickiest first steps into adulthood.
A few places to get started: