ViewPoint: Reasons to be Cheerful About Careers Education?
March 6, 2020

By John Yarham

Arguing about whether a glass is half-empty or half-full is a futile task. The whole point is that both are true, depending on your perspective.

John Yarham, Interim Chief Executive at the Careers & Enterprise Company
John Yarham, Interim Chief Executive at the Careers & Enterprise Company

The more helpful point to debate is whether the glass is filling-up or emptying. Are schools making progress, or are they falling behind? Are we moving in the right direction, or are we going backwards?

It’s National Careers Week this week, as well as being the last year of the Government’s Careers Strategy.

So now is a good time to have that debate about the state of careers education.

Research informed debate

Two recent pieces of research have helped to inform the debate. Education and Employers published a report looking at the careers aspirations of young people. Just over half of young people (53%) felt that their school or college had spent enough time helping them to understand future career options.

A month ago we also published research that took a measurement of the state of careers education provision in schools and colleges across the country. Specifically, we looked at how many young people are benefitting from the opportunity to regularly interact with employers while at school.

This matters in the real world because there is a weight of evidence that enjoying more ‘employer encounters’ while at school improves young people’s employability and earnings in later life. It even has an impact on their motivation and results while at school.

It matters to the Government so much that in 2017, they set an ambitious target that every single young person in the country would benefit from at least one such ‘employer encounter’ every year by the end of 2020.

A long way to go

Our report highlighted that one-in-five young people are still missing out on such regular employer encounters. On its own, this stat could leave us with the feeling that the glass was very much half-empty. And we’re first ones to admit there is a long way to go.

But it’s important that people don’t lose sight of the fact that careers education has been transformed for the better over last couple of years. There is strong evidence that schools and colleges are going in the right direction. And most importantly many, many more young people are benefiting.

In 2017, the year the Government published the Careers Strategy setting these targets, we made our first assessment to provide a baseline. This showed that to meet these targets, schools, colleges and businesses would need to work together to provide an additional 1.2million employer encounters every single year by the end of 2020. A huge task.

More and more young people benefiting

The evidence we published last month showed that as of July 2019, this gap had fallen massively. In just two years, and from a standing start, half a million more young people every year are benefiting from meeting employers.

There is still a big gap to fill, and it’s not going to be easy or straightforward. But this represents significant progress, and a significant benefit for more and more young people. The gap was never going to be closed overnight.

The approach that this country is taking to careers education is like nothing that has gone before. Reflecting the autonomy of schools and colleges, an emphasis has been placed on providing them with the tools and support to drive improvement themselves.

Employers have been at the forefront of efforts to support young people, with a common language – the Gatsby Benchmarks – underpinning all activity. Over the last couple of years, schools, colleges, employers have bought into this approach and young people are enjoying the benefits.

Ambitious goals, but the approach is working

The period from July 2019 to the end of 2020 has given schools and colleges 18 months to make more progress against the Careers Strategy ambition. The energy and thrust schools, colleges and employers are showing provides confidence that we can reduce the gap much more.

It was right that the Careers Strategy set ambitious goals that are hard to achieve, even if that can sometimes make the scale of the task seem daunting. So, at this point in time, is the glass half-full or half-empty? Well, we fully expect that debate to continue, and we welcome the healthy challenge provided.

But it would be a shame if that debate made us lose sight of the fact that the approach we’re taking is working. It would be a mistake to go back to a time when work experience was a box ticking exercise, rather than something schools could own as part of their commitments to students’ well-being.

More and more young people are benefiting and that’s what matters.

John Yarham, Interim Chief Executive at the Careers & Enterprise Company

John was previously chief executive at Futures Management Group, and director of economic development and skills and learning at Nottingham City Council.

ViewPoint: Why Careers Education Needs International Inspiration
January 15, 2020

By Ruth Gilbert, group education director at Manor Property Group and an honorary fellow at UCL Institute of Education.

When creating something new for the UK, it makes sense to take a look at the wider world to get a better understanding of what’s already out there and what’s working internationally.

This approach of considering best practice is not rocket science by any means and, in fact, it potentially saves a huge amount of effort. Why start from scratch to come up with new ideas when there are tried-and-tested techniques/products that would potentially work (albeit with some adaptations) for your particular market and audience?

Careers education

Careers education is clearly something that we haven’t got quite right in this country. A number of reasons can be cited for this – not enough funding, accountability, lack of prominence in the national curriculum…the list goes on. But the fact remains that high-quality careers education is crucial if young people are to be given the best possible chance to successfully progress from school/college/university into great jobs.

We have seen some investment in careers education projects for primary schools and funding for virtual career hubs to coordinate training and support employer brokering services. But, culturally, the emphasis in the UK has been on public sector leadership of employer engagement.

Many countries around the world have taken a very different approach to careers education, with encouraging results. So, perhaps it is time to look further afield and take inspiration from the international community. 

Take Finland – a European country with comparable economic drivers and social context to the UK. Much greater resource is dedicated to careers education there, and the subject is a compulsory element of the curriculum. It comprises around 76 hours of scheduled “careers ed” activities in the students’ timetables during the equivalent of Years 7-9. In addition, there is an entitlement for individual and group guidance together with compulsory work experience periods. And for younger children in Finland (grades 1-6), careers guidance is embedded within the classroom.

Expert guidance

Crucially, students are also entitled to expert careers guidance at school one year after completing upper secondary level if they have not been enrolled in further education. For those young people starting vocational education and training programmes (VET) there is one compulsory ECVET module on the development of lifelong career management skills. Each student is entitled to a customised learning plan – supporting them to consider their post-education plans.

Finland and its neighbour Norway are also leading the way with physical careers guidance centres (Ohjaamo centres) – which are also found in Australia. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international conference in June referenced this work, highlighting the benefit of these centres to promote active citizenship, inclusion and transition to employment. They are cross-sectoral, providing a range of outreach services to support young people, including: employment and youth services; career practitioners; social/health professionals; and a range of charities.

This model is similar to the vision of Manor Property Group, which is developing a network of careers hubs. The first of these Qdos Career Hubs is planned to serve East Yorkshire, where youth unemployment has been rising, major skills shortages are evident and apprenticeship take-up is very low.

And, as is evident from Finland’s experience, the establishment of one-stop guidance centres is having a positive impact, with respondents feeling they were better involved in decision making about their own lives. This is exactly what Manor expects to achieve with our project – benefiting the local, regional and national economy and skills market.

Industry involvement

Another key theme, which comes through strongly when looking at Finland’s successful implementation of careers guidance, is the involvement of industry. Privatisation of services is always a contentious point in the UK, but is a common feature of careers guidance services in other countries. Over the past 10 years in Finland, the role of the private sector has increased, introducing more varied and flexible services. These have included online careers information and self-assessment tools as well as national projects to support continuous learning.

And in Canada, there has been substantial commercial investment from industry into career development. It is widely accepted that that industry-led education in Canada is progressive – offering much best practice for the UK to take note of. An example of this is RBC, Canada’s largest bank, committing to investing CA$500 million (£288 million) over 10 years in the Future Launch programme to help young people succeed in the emergent labour market. 

We have seen employability online programmes from major banks and financial institutions in the UK but we don’t culturally promote industry engagement in leadership of pioneering public services. Via its network of Qdos Career Hubs, Manor is keen to demonstrate how smaller businesses in the UK can create a legacy for their communities, supporting growth of the economy and young people, hand in hand.

Crucially, careers guidance gives young people a broader view of the opportunities available to them. It also offers employers the chance to consider their future skills needs and engage with the very audience they need to support these needs. A win-win.

Learning lessons from abroad reflects the necessity of taking an international view on these issues. We are operating in a global digital economy and this means opening young people’s eyes to how industry is working – now and in the future, here and abroad.

State of the Nation 2019
September 23, 2019

The Careers and Enterprise Company. has published thier State of the Nation 2019 report which provides the most comprehensive assessment of careers education in England. 

The key messages in the report are:

  • Careers Education is improving everywhere. Disadvantaged areas are among the highest performing in the country.
  • Two million young people are now engaging with employers at least once a year.
  • The new Careers Hubs and the Enterprise Adviser Network are delivering accelerated progress.
  • Young peoples’ skills and work readiness are improving.
  • Schools, colleges and business now work together on a national scale.

Download the full report below.


Youth Voice Census Results 2019 : Press Release
May 21, 2019

Careers education and knowledge of apprenticeships is on the rise, but there is still much work to do to fix youth unemployment

Youth Employment UK has today launched the results from the 2019 Youth Voice Census, a survey capturing the experiences of more than 3,000 14-24-year olds as they transition between education and employment. Download the full Youth Voice Census Report for 2019 (PDF)

Young People And Careers Education

Young people are benefitting from developments in careers education policy and knowledge of apprenticeships is on the rise; 83% of respondents reported that they had had apprenticeships discussed with them whilst in secondary school, up from 58% in 2018. However university remains the option most frequently discussed, and young people’s confidence in pursuing an apprenticeship has some way to go before we see real parity. It is encouraging to see that those young people who do undertake an apprenticeship report high satisfaction levels. More than 83% say that their apprenticeship has prepared them for their next step, with 63% of respondents planning to stay with their current employer.

Careers Education And The Gender Divide Read more

More Than a Job’s Worth Report
April 26, 2019

LKMco has launched an important new report, which sets out what young people should learn during their careers education, and when.

More Than A Job’s Worth: Making Careers Education Age-Appropriate was commissioned by the charity Founders4Schools, and argues that children’s careers education should begin as soon as they start school. While this is something that may make some people squeamish, the report sets out how this can be done in an age-appropriate way

Read The Report Here

Report from LKMco: Careers Education: What Should Young People Learn and When?
April 10, 2019

LKMco has launched an important new report, which sets out what young people should learn during their careers education, and when

More Than A Job’s Worth: Making Careers Education Age-Appropriate was commissioned by the charity Founders4Schools, and argues that children’s careers education should begin as soon as they start school. While this is something that may make some people squeamish, the report sets out how this can be done in an age-appropriate way.

For example, the research highlights how some nurseries and primaries launching careers education early have added ‘jobs corners’ to their classrooms, where costumes, props and stories about different professions are available for pupils to explore.

Read more

DfE Announce Top Employers Will Help all Primary Schools Offer Careers Education to Pupils
March 6, 2019

Education Secretary Damian Hinds announces work with leading employers to help all primary schools offer top careers education.

All primary school pupils will benefit from world leading careers education developed by top industry professionals including the British Chambers of Commerce and BP.

To mark National Careers Week, which runs from Monday 4 March, to Friday 8 March, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced that the Department is working with industry leaders to help make first class career-related learning a reality in all primary schools.

The Department for Education has published research that shows 96% of primary schools are offering tailored career activities to pupils, despite not being compelled to, and is committing ensure this reaches 100% by working with industry professionals.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Read more

Careers Education in Primary Schools
August 1, 2018

In this article published by the CDI, Liz Reece looks at the importance of careers education in primary schools and suggests some useful resources.

CDI Article