School teachers and parents struggling to give careers advice


School teachers and parents are struggling to give the right advice to prepare young people for the world of work, according to new, independent research released by the Association of Colleges.

The research found that:

  • 44% of school teachers admit to giving a pupil bad or uninformed advice in the past
  • 82% of school teachers don’t feel they have the appropriate knowledge to advise pupils on careers, and 82% are calling for better guidance on advising pupils about their options post-16
  •  57% of school teachers feel obligated to encourage pupils to stay on at their school post 16 -  26% said this was due to pressure from management, whilst 16% feared losing their job if students were to leave
  • One fifth of parents (20%) feel out of their depth advising their children about careers, and 32% say they only feel comfortable talking about jobs with which they are familiar
  • Some parents readily admit their offspring are ill-prepared for work, with more than one in 10 (11%) confessing they wouldn’t even employ their own child.

Joy Mercer, Association of Colleges Director of Policy, said: “Overall parents and school teachers exert more influence on a young person’s education choices than a school careers advisor. This study shows that teachers, in particular, recognise they are struggling with this challenge. Careers advice is a professional discipline that requires training and development and we know that many school budgets cannot stretch far enough to fund this resource.

“In an increasingly difficult jobs market, the results of this study are worrying.  It is vital young people receive suitable guidance so they can make informed decisions about their future.  That includes getting impartial advice on their post 16 education options, and the routes they can take into employment , including Apprenticeships.”

The research also revealed a mismatch in what parents and school teachers believe employers want from young recruits.  Both parents and teachers ranked work and life experience low on a list of attributes they believe most important to employers recruiting from education.  However, according to data from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, this attribute actually tops the list of qualities employers feel is most lacking in young recruits. 

Valerie Todd, Director of Talent and Resources at Crossrail and Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said: “Among most UK employers, particularly smaller ones, an employee’s experience is valued above all other criteria when it comes to recruiting. However, there are declining numbers of young people who get experience of work while in education. Sectors which have traditionally employed young people are in decline, resulting in fewer opportunities for them to gain experience.

“This means that businesses which want a highly skilled workforce for the future must take a conscious decision to help young people make the move from education into work.  Most companies can do at least one thing in their community to support this transition – offering Apprenticeships, hosting some form of work experience or visiting schools to give talks.

Other research findings include:

  • 93% of school teachers and 94% of parents want pupils /their child to have more access to employers and businesses
  • Reasons parents would not employ their child included: their child not being work-ready (14%); their child not being able to get work done in time (8%); their child lacking motivation (8%) and their child being lazy (8%)
  • More than a third of parents (38%) believe it is the responsibility of the school to prepare their child for the working world.  Something that nearly a quarter (23%) don’t feel is currently happening
  • 34% of parents would like their workplace to offer work experience to their child
  • 72% of parents think education should be more focused on preparing young people for employment
  • Nearly one fifth (19%) of parents say they give their child the same jobs and careers advice they received from their parents
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