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Careers and work experience provision found wanting

ASPIRES 2, based at King’s College London, is the second phase of a ten-year longitudinal research project studying young people's science and career aspirations.

The project’s latest short report highlights the findings of their national survey of 13,421 Year 11 students in respect of their reported experiences of, and satisfaction with, careers education and work experience. It reveals that provision is patchy and inequitable so those who need and want careers education the most are being let down by education policy-makers and providers.

Key findings:

  • Less than two thirds of Year 11 students have received careers education. Less than half of all students have had work experience. 57 per cent of students are satisfied with the careers education that they have received.
  • There is a demand from students for more and better careers education – those who have had careers education are more satisfied, those who have not had it are dissatisfied.
  • Careers provision is not just ‘patchy’, but is ‘patterned’ – particularly in terms of social inequalities. Careers education is not currently reaching those most in need of it. Girls, minority ethnic, working-class, lower-attaining and students who are unsure of their aspirations or who plan to leave education post-16 are all significantly less likely to report receiving careers education.
  • The likelihood of a student having participated in work experience varied by region and by career area. Students aspiring to science and law are the least likely to have had work experience.
  • Students planning on pursuing apprenticeships are more likely to have received careers education, work experience, and to be satisfied with their provision.
  • Students with high science aspirations are significantly more likely than their non-science aspirant peers to have had careers education and to be satisfied with this provision.

 

Recommendations:

  • Policy needs to focus on careers education participation, not just provision, to ensure that it reaches ‘underserved’ communities/students.
  • All those involved in careers education should monitor, and take action to address, inequalities in terms of which students are participating in (accessing and making use of) careers education and work experience provision and opportunities. Greater effort needs to be made to engage those who are not participating.
  • Support should be provided to schools and careers education providers to enable them to understand, identify and address inequalities in careers education and work experience participation.
  • Organisations could usefully be provided with dedicated resourcing to target, engage and support disadvantaged groups (especially girls, minority ethnic, working-class, bottom sets and those who are unsure or who plan to leave education post-16) to ensure that they receive appropriate careers education and work experience.
  • Organisations should take particular care with respect to schemes and opportunities that are offered on an ‘opt in’ and/or ‘selective’ basis, to ensure that these do not contribute to the further reinforcement of patterns of unequal participation in careers education and work experience.

 

Read the report by Professor Louise Archer and Dr Julie Moote here

2 comments

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  • Theodora Chamberlain

    We only do work experience in Year 12. We provide opportunities for Year 7-111 to have employer contacts and work related activities. Should we be reviewing our practice?

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    • Anthony

      Paras 55-57 of the revised statutory guidance (January 2018) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/672089/Careers_guidance_and_access_for_education_and_training_providers.pdf make clear the government’s aspirations for young people’s experience of workplaces. Post-16 placements need to be linked to students’ study programmes. Pre-16, the test seems to be to ensure that students have a meaningful experience of at least one workplace.

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