From education to employment

New education and skills survey shows employer engagement needs to improve

The latest CBI/Pearson Education and Skills survey results have been released, it shows a clear need for greater business involvement in preparing young people for the workplace.

Encouragingly it showed that 53% of respondents have at least some links with FE colleges, however many reported barriers to engaging with education and a huge 77% of businesses reported they feel the quality of careers advice young people receive is not good enough. There are signs of improvement however, with 60% of employers willing to play a greater role in supporting careers provision in schools and colleges, with 71% of those willing to work with individual schools and colleges as opposed to national programmes.

The biggest barrier to building links with schools or colleges is a lack of guidance or support on how to make work experience worthwhile. 28% of respondents said this was their biggest barrier. Although this is down from the 31% who said it last year it is still a concern. As the report says, “This has long been a concern for many businesses, and ending compulsory work experience in England has reinforced doubts over the perceived value of placement.” One of our previous Business Volunteers, Catherine Warrilow Director at Seriously PR, has provided work experience placements but she struggles with knowing how to make it worthwhile. She told us “There is gap between colleges and employers in terms of fulfilling curriculum and study requirements in work experience placements – for example as an employer I set the objectives for work experience and have little to no input from tutors on what the student should be trying to achieve.”

A key theme from the report was that careers guidance is inadequate for the current jobs market. With changes in technology creating entirely new sectors and job roles, and markets and customer demands ever-changing careers guidance needs to be constantly up to date and relevant to the real world of work. In order to make it so, real local employers who know the current labour market must be involved.

The report set out eight benchmarks for good careers guidance:

  • “A stable careers programme: every school and college should have an embedded programme of career education and guidance
  • Learning for career and labour market information: every pupil and their parents should have access to good quality information about future study options and labour market opportunities, supported by an informed adviser
  • Addressing the needs of each pupil: pupils have different career guidance needs at different stages. Opportunities for advice and support should be tailored to the needs of each pupil
  • Linking curriculum learning to careers: all teachers should link curriculum learning with careers. STEM subject teachers should highlight the relevance of STEM subject for a wide range of future careers paths.
  • Encounters with employers and employees: every pupil should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers about work, employment and the skills that are valued in the workplace
  • Experience of workplaces: every pupil should have first-hand experiences of the workplace through work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience
  • Encounters with further and higher education: all pupils should understand the full range of learning opportunities available to them, including both academic and vocational routes
  • Personal guidance: every pupil should have opportunities for guidance interviews with a careers adviser whenever significant study or career choices are being made.”


To read the full report click here, or for a handy infographic that summarises the data please click here.

James Lott is the managing director of Working Knowledge, a social enterprise that has over 8 years experience of partnering with the Further and Higher Education sectors to support the education of full time learners through employer engagement via a range of value-added work experience, enterprise and employability services

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