Sixth formers miss out on careers advice

Research suggests A-level students have no idea of the non-university options available to them when they leave school. The Guardian has been looking at where they can find the information…

A recent study carried out by the careers website Not Going To Uni found that out of 1,774 university graduates, three quarters had not been told about vocational routes and apprenticeships while at school or college. More than half said they would have taken a vocational qualification if they had known about them.

With almost 1 million young people currently unemployed, it has never been more important for students to have information on a range of career routes – and not just university degrees.

But following the closure of the Connexions service in 2011, responsibility for careers information, advice and guidance has passed to schools – without any additional funding for delivery of services – with varying levels of effectiveness.

Another blow has been the removal of the requirement for schools to provide pre-16 work experience, says Karen O’Donoghue, president of the Career Development Institute, the professional body for careers development practitioners.

“Provision [of careers advice] is absolutely patchy,” says Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. “We are aware of some very good practice, but lots of schools are really struggling.” Changes to the school-leaving age – due to rise to 17 this year and 18 by 2015 – make good, early careers advice “all the more important”, he adds.

But Spencer Mehlman, managing director of Not Going to Uni, says some teachers are unaware of the range of opportunities available to their students. “A lot of teachers who are now having to promote careers advice and guidance on top of their teaching role do not necessarily know where to look to find this information,” he says.

Young people wanting to explore their options can find out about apprenticeships via the National Apprenticeship Service website, which lists vacancies. They can also get help online, via email and telephone from the National Careers Service, which replaced Connexions last year.

But many educators and careers professionals feel this doesn’t go far enough and is certainly no replacement for the face-to-face support young people badly need.

More at:  Sixth formers miss out on careers advice

Are you now having to give careers advice? Do you feel suitably qualified? What kind of support or resources would you most like to have available? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form 

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