Career advice heading for cliff edge?

Dec 4, 2013

As a graduate or a parent of a graduate it must be pretty worrying to read such headlines as that covering the CBI’s prognosis on the future of career advice: that it is “heading towards a cliff-edge”.

What will happen if it goes over?

With varying standards in the quality of career advice across schools, colleges and universities in the UK, neither graduates nor their parents have any real idea whether the advice they receive is worth anything at all.

How well is it helping you to prepare for the increasingly competitive world of graduate employment?

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the UK’s leading business organisation, which speaks for around 240,000 businesses, says many are failing.

They join the many other voices from education and business raising concerns over graduate preparedness for the workforce, including those in under staffed university careers departments struggling to keep up with the numbers. They would like to offer graduates more than just the nominal CV look-over and list of possible careers but one to one personal advice is impossible for most.

And yet there has never been a greater need for quality careers advice and support, particularly in light of statistics showing that a third of graduates are under-employed in jobs that do not need a degree because they can’t find graduate level employment.

The CBI warns that careers guidance is facing a crisis with too great a focus on traditional routes. Young people are still funnelled towards A Level and university choices, while many alternative options, from apprenticeships and vocational qualifications to starting their own businesses, are largely ignored.

Their warning is based on the results of a survey of 2000 14-25 year olds, conducted using the Life Skills Youth Barometer created by Barclay’s.

It showed that just a quarter (26%) of young people received information on starting an apprenticeship and only 17% were advised on what vocational qualifications were available.

These routes are looked on as better ways for graduates to develop the high level employability skills employers want. But these skills can and should be encouraged even on an academic programme if graduates are given the proper support or advice on how to develop them.

The survey showed that there was little guidance on post-education routes, such as starting your own business (9%) and working for a small business (12%). In fact, one in ten (11.8%) received no advice on what options are available to help them develop their employability skills in other ways.

“Careers guidance in England’s schools is heading towards a cliff-edge,”

“Advice is scarce for young people not interested in being funnelled towards A Levels and university and exciting, potential life-changing career alternatives are being lost.”

“There is a worrying shortage of skills in some of our key industries and if we don’t give young people the information they need to find apprenticeships or sign up to high-quality vocational training, this will only get worse.”

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy.

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