Yesterday (4 Jun) marked an important occasion for MiddletonMurray – our first event in the House of Commons, and the launch of our “Limitless campaign”.
I’m immensely proud of the work that we do at MiddletonMurray – we have placed over 10,000 apprentices and trainees – but I want to take this a step further and help everyone across the UK who wants to develop their career.
Every day I meet people who ask me how they can kickstart their dream career. They just don’t know where to begin.
A poll of our learners at MiddletonMurray found that nearly 30% hadn’t received any careers advice at all, and of those that had, only 10% said that the careers advice they had received had been “very useful”.
I worry that this lack of direction will create a generation of disengaged, disillusioned and unproductive workers.
I meet so many school leavers, unsure of their next step, believing further education is the only possible option to get on the career ladder, but this simply isn’t true. I work to raise awareness of the fact there are viable alternatives to university, such as apprenticeships and traineeships.
What’s more, these courses are no longer confined to traditional trades, such as carpentry and plumbing. Global companies, such as KPMG & Goldman Sachs (who attended the launch of Limitless last night) now offer apprenticeships to train new talent or upskill existing employees. As firms continue to reap the benefits of the Apprenticeship Levy, the number of opportunities will only increase.
It’s crucial that people are presented with all the further education options and career pathways available, both technical and academic.
It’s not just young people who are affected by the lack of quality careers advice available. Many people of all ages feel stuck in jobs they aren’t passionate about. They’re unaware of the options out there or feel unsure about the best path to get them through the process of a career change.
Clearly there is insufficient careers advice available at all stages of life.
So, what is the answer?
I believe a radical overhaul of the careers advice system is needed.
I was pleased to see that the Government acknowledged the importance of careers advice in the new careers strategy, but it simply didn’t go far enough.
I have launched the Limitless careers campaign to encourage government to take action and implement a world-leading careers advice system.
It is clear to me that the UK needs a considerably more ambitious approach to address the skills gap in this country, ensure we are prepared for the future of work and transform careers education to ensure a more motivated and engaged workforce, which will increase our productivity.
So, what does world-leading careers education look like?
First, we need to acknowledge that careers advice is failing – too many people are unaware of their options, or what steps they need to take to develop. This can mean that many don’t take that vital first step on the career ladder, or stay in a job that isn’t suitable for them, causing problems in the longer term.
Second, schools should no longer deliver the bulk of careers advice. Teachers are already burdened with an extensive curriculum and a finite amount of time, so they should be free to concentrate on delivering the school curriculum.
Instead, careers advice should be offered in schools, but rather than teachers, should be offered by external employers and training providers who have first-hand knowledge of, and practical advice, about the abundance of pathways available.
At MiddletonMurray, we recognise this and spend time going into schools to make sure pupils have all the information they need to make the best decisions for their future. sw
Third, careers advice should be free and open to all, regardless of age and employment status.
It should be readily available from the beginning of an individual’s school career, right through to pension age. This will allow people to make more informed decisions about their career when they are starting out, looking for a change later in life, or seeking to boost income in retirement.
To help with this, I am also launching careers clinics at MiddletonMurray, where people of any age can drop-in and receive expert careers advice to help them reach their full potential.
Fourth, careers advice should adapt to fit the jobs of the future. As technology rapidly evolves and automation surges ahead, it’s vital that careers advice is fit for purpose, adapting to cater to the jobs of the future, for example in AI or big data management. There is no point in encouraging people to go into a job that will not exist in ten years’ time, and at the moment careers advice is potentially limiting people’s ambitions.
And finally, to be more accessible, careers advice should be delivered in an innovative way, on platforms that people are using in everyday life.
Quality guidance should be easily accessible via digital platforms, for example social networks, podcasts (such as my free ‘IWant2BA’ podcast) or video (like my free YouTube vlog). This means people can engage wherever and whenever they want.
I hope others will join me in calling for the Government to look again at how careers advice can be delivered more innovatively to ensure we have a workforce fit for a twenty-first century economy.
To join me in calling for world-leading careers advice in the UK, find out more about Limitless here.
Angela Middleton, Chairman and Founder of MiddletonMurray