Schools urged to overhaul careers advice

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Schools should allow longer and more frequent work experience placements for pupils and provide them with information specific to the local jobs market, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Association of Colleges (AoC), claims that 11- to 16-year-olds are unhappy with the way careers guidance is delivered in schools.

To address this it recommends that schools extend the amount of time available to pupils to go on work experience placements and provide more information about careers opportunities in the local area.

In addition, the report urges schools to provide more structured advice on education and employment opportunities post-16.

A survey of 2,000 11- to 16-year-olds carried out by the association found that the majority of children (70 per cent) seek advice about future employment from their parents, while only 53 per cent would ask their teacher for advice.

Michelle Sutton, president of the association, said young people need as much practical guidance as possible to prepare them for life after school. She said: “Young people are calling for a more experiential model of careers guidance and want more work experience and have-a-go sessions that help them get a better grasp of what roles in, say, engineering or IT really involve.

“They’re also telling us that they need more practical guidance about how to go about researching jobs they’re interested in, and the steps they need to take.

“Children turn to their parents and teachers in the first instance and it’s our responsibility as adults to be able to offer more relevant, realistic and timely advice.”

Verity O’Keefe, employment skills and policy adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the report showed careers provision needs radical transformation.

"Exposure to the real working world is vital," she said. "Schoolchildren themselves are asking for more practical experiences, and manufacturers are best placed to showcase the opportunities within the industry and teach young people about the skill sets required for such a career.”

In April, the Department for Education published new statutory careers guidance that extends schools' responsibilities.

From September, all 13- to 18-year-olds will be given the opportunity to be mentored by a local employer and given access to independent careers advice.

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