Colleges pick up pace preparing students for work say the Careers & Enterprise Company @CareerEnt 

  • College participation nearly doubles in 12 months.
  • 81 per cent ensure students meet employers.
  • 81 per cent link learning to careers.

Colleges across the country report strong progress preparing students for the world of work, according to new research published today.

The report, Careers and enterprise provision in England’s colleges 2019 by The Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC), highlights significantly increasing levels of participation and progress by the colleges sector in the nationwide programme preparing students for the workplace.

The number of colleges using the new standards has nearly doubled in 12 months - 262 colleges are now engaged in the programme framed by the Gatsby Benchmarks – up 94 per cent from 1917/18.

The increase follows a re-design of the programme specifically for colleges, which was launched in September 2018. The study shows clear signs it is being rapidly adopted and becoming part and parcel of how colleges plan and execute career programmes.

Four fifths (81%) of FE colleges are now managing and monitoring their careers education programme using the CEC’s digital platform Compass.

Careers becoming embedded

Colleges report that the new approach to careers education is becoming embedded in the way they work.

The structures and systems needed to ensure their careers programmes operate effectively have been widely adopted:

  • 96 per cent of FE colleges now have a careers leader
  • 91 per cent have a written careers programme
  • 92 per cent say their careers programme has the explicit backing of the senior leadership team
  • 88 per cent say funding has been allocated to their careers programme.

Careers performance improving

The evidence from the colleges sector shows careers education performance is improving across all measures.

Performance is particularly positive in providing meaningful contacts for students with employers, ensuring guidance is made available, linking learning with careers and tracking the impact careers education has on job choices and the career path of students:

  • Eight in ten colleges (81%) are ensuring all or most of their young people are regularly meeting with employers – up 20 per cent in 12 months
  • Nearly six in ten (58%) are delivering workplace experiences for all or most students
  • 94 per cent make interviews with qualified careers advisers available to all learners
  • 90 per cent track the destinations of their students for three years after they leave
  • 81 per cent ensure learning in the main subject is directly linked to careers.

Progress is strongest among those colleges that are in careers hubs and the CEC’s careers network.

John Yarham, Interim Chief Executive, The Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“College leaders and staff are pursuing the careers education agenda with energy and enthusiasm.

“The positive progress they are making is delivering real results for students – broadening opportunity and improving life chances.

“It is encouraging to see the changes made to shape the system to fit the college context is reaping rewards for the sector and their students. Engagement is growing and execution picking up pace.

“We are committed to continuing to work closely with colleges to ensure we deliver the support their students need and deserve, empowering them to thrive as they move from education to employment.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:

“It’s hard to imagine a more important time than now to be focusing our efforts on helping students navigate their way through education to the rapidly changing world of work. It’s easy to see how people can get lost without information and support.

“That’s why I am enormously pleased to see the high quality of careers support colleges provide to their students and that it is improving all the time. There is clearly more to do if we are to be certain that every college is able to fully support every student. We are working with colleges, the Careers and Enterprise Company and government to help make that happen because everyone deserves to understand all of their options and to be inspired to make the most of their talents and abilities.”

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