Dear Ofsted, what about careers advice in universities – they need help too!

Sep 17, 2013

Ofsted’s findings that arrangements for careers guidance in schools are not working well enough should not come as a surprise considering what careers advice looks like at some universities.

Schools were only given legal responsibility for careers advice in September 2012 so we should expect that there are going to be some teething problems.

What is far more shocking and concerning is that many university careers services aren’t providing graduates with the quality of careers support they need to make the next step into employment. It means that many graduates are leaving university woefully unprepared for the competitive jobs market they are about to face.

That is not to say we can absolve schools of the responsibility or downplay the importance of careers advice at a time when young people are making crucial decisions about their future, decisions that could cost them dearly in terms of choosing the best path. Ofsted visited 60 schools around the country and a whopping three quarters were not implementing their duty to provide impartial careers advice effectively. Their career advice was not explicit, the National Careers Service was not being promoted well enough and there was a lack of employer engagement in schools.

University careers advice needs improving too

We have heard similar comments from many of the graduates that come to us for careers support. These are graduates who are still unsure which path is best for them, struggling to find a graduate level job, and who are beginning to feel disillusioned. The story we hear over and again is that they found their university careers service unhelpful and, unless they are on a vocation related degree, not specific enough.

As a result, 85% of graduates never use their university careers centre according to High Flyers.

Like the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), we would like to see the quality of careers advice improve right up the education chain with universities also playing more of a role to deliver employability skills training as standard alongside their academic courses.

Calling for better support for schools for the delivery of good quality career advice, Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, said better provision “must be part of a wider movement led by the government and involving education and career development professionals.

“Young people need reliable, inspirational and high-quality career advice which can be an essential tool in fighting youth unemployment.”

He added: “We warned earlier this year that careers advice was on life support and this report confirms the scale of the problem.”

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