Career guidance is failing pupils


A new report calls for comprehensive reform to stop school career guidance failing generation after generation of young people. It is the first ever major study to set out how to fix the career guidance system in England.

The report, conducted by Sir John Holman, Emeritus Professor at the University of York and former headteacher, explains how government, schools, and employers can work together to build a new model of career guidance, placing it at the heart of school life.

On the launch of the report Sir John, said: “Career guidance has failed young people for generations, with successive governments reorganising the system but failing to take the right actions to improve it. Pupils continue to be kept in the dark about the employment impact of the courses they choose.

“The whole country pays a heavy price for this failure. It creates a skills shortage, which harms the economy and deprives the country of a workforce fit for the 21st century. With employers reporting difficulties in filling vacancies at a time when high levels of youth unemployment persist, the need to take drastic action to improve career guidance is more pressing than ever.”

The report investigated best practice in career guidance across the globe, to learn from other countries – including Germany, Canada, and Finland – that have performed much better than the UK in helping young people into rewarding work.

By observing how countries with the most effective career guidance systems operate, the report sets eight benchmarks to define how English schools should help young people make the right choices, as well as a number of recommendations, including:

  • Greater accountability for schools: Schools to publish where their pupils are studying or the careers they are following three years after leaving.
  • More employer involvement: Pupils should have frequent encounters with employers and employees in addition to work experience.
  •  Government to lead systemic change: Every secondary school required to publish a Careers Plan and independence for the National Careers Service.

The Gatsby Foundation, which published the report, is calling for Ofsted to evaluate school performance using these benchmarks and include their findings in annual school league tables.

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