From education to employment

Results day: Almost half of girls opt for university despite only a third of jobs requiring a degree

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  • 40% of young people in the UK plan to attend university, but insights suggest only 29% of jobs require a graduate skill level
  • Girls are more likely (47%) than boys (31%) to plan on going to university after leaving school, putting their future at greater risk
  • City & Guilds is calling for improved careers advice and guidance to make young people, and those that influence them, better aware of the range of options available 

Ahead of A-Level results day, new research from skills organisation City & Guilds reveals that more young people (40%) are turning towards university compared to the same time last year (35%). But there is a stark gender divide – with almost half (47%) of girls aged between 17-19 considering going to university, compared to under a third (31%) of boys.

According to the findings, girls are also more preoccupied with future earnings, with more than half (54%) making their post-school choice based on what they believe is the best way to get a good job with a good salary, compared to just 44% of boys.

However, labour market analysis from Lightcast suggest that only 29% of UK jobs typically require a degree level qualification. This means young people could be setting themselves up for unnecessary debt without a clear onward trajectory. With young people basing their education choices on perceived, rather than real, career prospects, City & Guilds is urging schools to provide robust careers advice based on current labour market insight to ensure that young people, parents, and teachers are aware of the full range of career options available.

The research also reveals there is a clear difference between the influences swaying young people’s decisions about their career choices. While girls are more likely to be influenced by their family (42% compared to 23% of boys), boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to say their choice is based on what they’ve seen on TV or social media.

David Phillips, Managing Director of City & Guilds commented:

“It’s crucial that both young men and women have access to robust and up-to-date careers advice that gives a true image of today’s labour market and challenges outdated gender stereotypes about careers. This will ensure school leavers know what is most likely to lead to a good job when they are making choices about their futures. We have seen from our research that both boys and girls are heavily influenced by those in their networks, so it’s vital that parents, and teachers, are made aware of the breadth of educational and training routes, outside of the traditional academic ones, that can lead to rewarding and well-paid jobs.”

City & Guilds’ research also reveals the impact rising costs are having on young people’s decisions. More than half (56%) of 17-19-year-olds surveyed state that the rising cost of living has made them reconsider the type of career they might do after leaving school or college. 67% state they are thinking more about salary when considering potential careers as a result, whilst a further 60% now plan to stay in full time education for longer to help them get a better paid job in the future. 

David continued: “It’s reassuring to see that young people are already thinking ahead about the career options available to them. However, as the UK battles against a volatile labour market, with a potential recession on the horizon and a cost-of-living crisis, ahead of this year’s results day, it’s more important than ever that young people make informed decisions about their futures. 

“While university is the right path for some, it’s certainly not the only option. Our recent Great Jobs research shone a light on the essential jobs that make up 50% of all UK employment opportunities – many of which rely on vocational routes such as traineeships, apprenticeships and T Levels. As young people look to invest in their future, we encourage them to consider the full breadth of options available so they can identify which path is right for them.”

City & Guilds is encouraging young people to consider the wide range of different education options available upon leaving school. These can lead to important and fulfilling jobs and careers that are often overlooked by people who would thrive in them. Parents, teachers, and students can find out more about the vocational and technical education routes on the City & Guilds website:

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