From education to employment


City & Guilds is calling for Government to level the playing field for millions of school children across the UK by providing a national careers guidance service which is accessed by every child and incorporates access to employers and local jobs market information.

  • UK teens likely to face unemployment or underemployment as they plan to train for jobs that are unlikely to be available to them
  • Teens from the South East aware of significantly more jobs than teenagers in any other region
  • Only three in 10 UK teens optimistic they will be working in their career of choice in 10 years’ time

Today (24 Aug 16) over a million UK teens are awaiting their GCSE results, unaware that they are facing a ‘careers advice postcode lottery’ according to research into their career aspirations published today by leaders in skills development, City & Guilds. 

The survey of more than 3,000 UK 14-19 year olds, revealed that on average, British youngsters are aware of less than one in five of the 369 different occupations listed by the Government. Teenagers across the country were unfamiliar with a majority of well-paid roles including jobs such as finance director, flight engineer or IT manager, raising concerns that their career prospects will be impacted and this lack of knowledge will make it harder for employers to find the skilled employees they need.

Demonstrating this disparity, In Wales, teens knew of just 15% of available jobs, yet in the South East this rose to nearly 24%. There was also a marked difference between the cities, with teenagers from Newcastle aware of just one in ten potential occupations when it came to choosing their dream career compared to London where teens knew about 17% of them.

The research revealed that access to careers advice across the nation is far too varied, with teens in some regions relying on the media for information, while others received the benefit of employer visits to their schools. Many still rely on parents for information, potentially severely limiting the number of jobs they are exposed to and hampering chances of social mobility for children from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Managing Director, City & Guilds said:

“The Government has identified that a lack of careers advice was affecting the futures of millions of the UK’s young people and created the Careers and Enterprise Company in response. Whilst that has gone some way to addressing the problem, it’s clear from our findings that more needs to be done to give every young person in the UK the same advantages – whether they are living in London or Leeds.

“We are calling on Government to now create a holistic new national careers advice model that provides young people across the UK with the information they need to match their talents, hopes and dreams with the reality of the jobs market. We can do this by giving everyone access to real life employers in schools as well as up to date labour market information so they know what skills are in demand from employers and where.”

City & Guilds worked with economic modellers Emsi to map young people’s career aspirations to the jobs forecast to be available in 2022. The research revealed striking mismatches between teenagers’ career expectations and the number and type of jobs predicted to be available, with some cities or regions faring particularly badly.

In London, young people are more likely than in any other English city to find out about occupations from a careers adviser, are highly likely to know someone who works in the industry they want to work in and more likely to have done a work placement in this sector, giving them a distinct competitive advantage compared to young people from other parts of the UK.

Laura-Jane Rawlings, Managing Director – Youth Employment UK said:

“The transition from education into employment is still one of the biggest challenges facing young people. Without a clear understanding of the local and national opportunities available, the skills and experience employers are looking for young people will continue to struggle to move into sustainable job roles. The world of work is hugely exciting and the new opportunities for apprenticeships make this even more so, but only if young people are made aware of what is available to them.”

“Now that Skills and Education policy sit in one Government Department (DfE) we may have call to be optimistic that the age old problem of lack of access to impartial and balanced careers education may be properly addressed.”

Across the county young people demonstrated a skewed view of the jobs that they were likely to be available to them, with many choosing fields that were historically dominant in their region but are unlikely to be in the future. For example, in the North East, there are more than six times (664%) the number of young people wanting a job in metal working production than the number of jobs predicted by 2022.

This pattern of a handful of jobs being over-selected was replicated in Birmingham and Leeds, where far too many young people wanted to be computer programmers – with six candidates interested in every one predicted job in Birmingham by 2022 (608% oversubscribed) and 617% too many in Leeds, whilst other equally well paid roles that require similar skill sets, such as finance and investment analysts were selected by no one. This perhaps indicates that young people are receiving lots of information about careers available using STEM subjects but are not getting the same exposure to other career types.

In Liverpool there were 20 would-be psychologists for every one job role predicted by 2022 meaning that many are in line to be disappointed. In contrast very few young people expressed an interest in working in nursing, which offers a similar opportunity to work in a well-paid caring profession, despite there being 2,000 positions forecast in the area by 2022.

Rob Slane, Emsi – Head of Marketing:

“There were two very striking things about the occupations that were chosen by 14-19 year-olds in the survey. The first is that the oversubscribed occupations were the obvious jobs such as doctors, journalists, and computer programmers that all young people would be aware of. The second trend was that there were many well paid occupations that virtually nobody chose, such as property, housing and estate managers, and marketing. It is this mismatch between aspirations and reality that is the basic cause of the skills gap.

“The solution is to give young people better information about the state of their local and regional labour market, including which positions are likely to be available in their area over the next few years, salary details, and which occupations are most similar to their aspirations, but where there are more likely to be jobs available. Put this information into the hands of young people, and you will start to see the skills gap close.”

The research also reveals a worrying lack of confidence in some areas with less than three in 10 optimistic they will be working in their career of choice in 10 years’ time. Young people in the North West were most concerned about the economy limiting their job prospects compared to any other region, with more than one in two citing this as a concern.

As you might expect salary expectations were considerably lower outside of the Capital. Young people from Wales for example believed they would take home almost £9,000 less compared with those from London, whist this might in part be because of the fact that salaries are generally higher in London it also suggests that young people outside of London and the South West have had less exposure to the range of lucrative job opportunities they might be able to access.

The data makes clear that the opportunities to learn about different fields are not consistent across the country. In Liverpool, young people get their information from someone coming in to talk to them at school or from visiting a business with their school. In Manchester, young people are least likely to hear of a career from work experience, while in Newcastle it is least likely to come from a careers adviser. Equally, young people from Leeds are most likely to have had a paid part-time job, while a third of those from Birmingham have had work experience through school. Londoners are most likely to have benefited from work shadowing meaning those living in the capital could be getting their foot in the door before their peers elsewhere in the country.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE – Managing Director City & Guilds said:

“We all know what the gaps are in terms of careers guidance in the UK now and previous Government has made a good start in tackling them. Let’s ensure we learn from the lessons of the past and roll out a really ambitious and modern new approach to careers guidance to make sure that every child, no matter where they live in the UK, has same opportunity to achieve their full potential in the future.”

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