Better careers advice needed in schools to close gap between expectation and reality

student being given careers advice

More young people want to work in art, culture, entertainment and sport than there are jobs available

There may not be enough jobs available for young people in the industries they dream of entering, research by the charity Education and Employers has found, and better careers guidance is needed to fix this disconnect.

Some sectors are much more popular than others, meaning that while some industries may not have enough jobs, others are predicted to have more demand than there are young people expressing an interest in them.

Art, culture, entertainment and sport was the top choice among UK respondents, and five times as many 17 and 18-year-olds want to work in this area (15.6%) as the predicted demand for these kind of jobs (3.3%).

Accommodation and catering, on the other hand, “needs almost seven times as many students as are expressing an interest,” the report says.

Suggestions for ways to improve careers advice in schools

Just under half (47%) of the 14 to 18-year-olds surveyed felt like they’d been given adequate careers advice, and the report recommends that fixing this could be key to closing the gap between expectation and reality.

Bringing employers into schools to talk with students, giving better support from trained careers advisers, teaching students about the labour market and involving parents in careers sessions are all suggested by the report as ways to tackle the disconnect.

This is backed up by a separate report, released today by the OECD, which found that young people in countries with well-established careers guidance for teenagers are interested in a wider range of jobs.

In Germany, for example, there is much less of a gap between the careers that young people aspire to and the market demand for these industries.

TSR members talk careers advice

In a TSR poll from early last year, members were divided on their feelings about getting more formal careers advice. Most (45%) preferred to research their career options independently, without any input from an adviser.

Speaking face-to-face to an adviser was a very close second, though, with 40% preferring that option.

Some, like XKangaotiCX, have been put off the idea of speaking to an adviser by their past experiences: “They just ask you a load of questions about yourself which you already know and proceed to give advice about a career sector you’re not particularly interested in.”

“I've always found career advisers to be too general and use a lot of non-specific terms. There's no substitute for finding out how a role works first hand,” says TSR member 8472.

On the other hand, they continue, “a career adviser can be useful from their knowledge of what sorts of jobs there are. Even if they don't know the area in detail, guiding someone towards an area they didn't know about can be useful.”

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