Careers guidance at school: how to make it work for your students

A new report suggests there is still room for improvement in how schools prepare their students for the world of work. So what’s missing?

 

How are schools doing on careers advice for their students? This is the question we posed for the new State of the Nation 2017 report, published by social enterprise The Careers & Enterprise Company. Our findings are based on 600 schools completing a self-assessment tool, giving us insights into their delivery of careers provision.

 

We looked at how close schools are to eight benchmarks describing best practice – such as a stable careers programme, linking curriculum learning to careers, and offering personal guidance. While there have been improvements since 2014, there is still a long way to go.

 

Current careers provision typically falls short of the standard set by the benchmarks. More than 20 per cent of schools are not achieving any benchmarks, and on average schools are only meeting 1.87 of them. It’s encouraging to see, however, that the benchmarks are stretching but achievable – and that schools of all types and in all areas are managing to meet them. So what could schools be doing to move their careers and enterprise provision forwards?

 

Develop careers content in all subjects

 

Careers and enterprise provision shouldn’t just happen in PSHE. Subject teachers should be encouraged to consider how to bring careers content into the curriculum to bring the subject to life, making connections between classroom learning and young people’s aspirations. For example, the Bourne Academy in Bournemouth teaches students how to write business letters as part of the year 10 and 11 English curriculum.

 

Know the realities of the labour market

 

The labour market and how young people move into it are changing all the time. Just think of what has happened to travel agents with the advent of the internet or consider what driverless cars might do for lorry drivers. Because of these changes it is critical that labour market information is based on real-world data and not on memories of parents or teachers about what the labour market used to be like when they were young.

 

Although we are awash with data, it’s not always easy for young people to interpret. Schools can help by signposting free resources such as icould, which combines video case studies with up-to-date labour market information.

 

Give all students information on all routes

 

Half of young people can be expected to go to university, which means that half will not. Students now have the opportunity to leave school and go to college, to apprenticeships, to university or to work and training. But it can be all too easy for students to assume that university is the only option, when in fact other paths also offer good opportunities.

 

Our research finds that schools with sixth forms are more likely than other schools to advise a student to go on into their own sixth from than into college or other vocational routes. We would like to see all young people getting high-quality advice on all routes wherever they go to school.

 

Provide work experience for everyone

 

Our report found that only about half of schools (54.5%) are offering the overwhelming majority of their students a meaningful experience of the workplace by the end of year 11 (age 16). This drops to only a third (33.2%) in the sixth form (years 12 and 13).

 

We would like to see work experience available to all students.Friern Barnet School in Barnet is an example of a school that makes make good use of its 780-plus alumni to boost its employer contacts and offers all students a week’s work experience placement in year 10.

 

Track where students end up

 

It’s important that schools both understand what types of enterprise activities students have participated in and what destination students have gone on to. While schools already track lots of data, they should consider the value of capturing careers activity too.

 

With this information, schools will be in a better position to understand what types of activities and interventions are effective for students, and make improved decisions about how to run their career programmes.

 

Tristram Hooley is director of research at the Careers & Enterprise Company, a community interest company set up by government in 2015 toprepare young people for the world of work. Its role is to help to connect employers and schools, supporting programmes that work and filling gaps in provision.

 

 

By: Tristram Hooley

Source: theguardian.com