Bad careers advice could cost UK £90bn a year

1 Sep 2017 By Emily Burt

Employers and schools must collaborate to increase awareness of different opportunities, experts say

Businesses and schools must work together to improve awareness of career options, because bad jobs advice could cost the UK £90bn in lost GDP a year, a new report has warned.

In a survey of 2,000 secondary school teachers, parents and careers advisers by Kier Construction, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of parents said they felt careers advice was too focused on academia, and 68 per cent said their children did not receive enough careers advice at school. More than half of pupils (65 per cent) aged 11-13 got no official advice and 27 per cent of 13 to 15-year-olds received just one hour.

The lack of understanding about the range of career paths available to children, combined with Brexit uncertainties and recruitment shortfalls, could cost the UK £90bn GDP from the construction industry alone, the report warned. Experts have also cautioned that a lack of detailed careers advice could affect the future employability prospects of children.

“Research from education and employers shows that young people who have four or more workplace encounters while at school are 86 per cent less likely to be ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET) and, on average, will go on to earn 18 per cent more than their peers who did not,” said Claudia Harris, chief executive officer of The Careers & Enterprise Company.  

In an effort to improve careers advice, Kier has pledged 1 per cent of its workforce to act as career ambassadors in UK schools and colleges, aspiring to engage with at least 10,000 school pupils over the next 12 months.

This follows a similar move from the CIPD, which last year joined a national effort to equip young people with the necessary skills to succeed in a fast-moving labour environment. CIPD members and other senior businesspeople have spent the last 12 months volunteering with The Careers & Enterprise Company’s enterprise adviser programme, which seeks to help both primary and secondary schools develop a careers education strategy, based on business insights.

“Access to high-quality careers advice and guidance is absolutely critical to support young people in making informed choices about their future,” said Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD. “Employers and HR professionals can play an important role in strengthening careers guidance. We are currently working with The Careers & Enterprise Company to place senior HR professionals in schools as enterprise advisers to support them, develop their networks and bridge the gap between education and employers.”

Kier also called on the government to use its upcoming careers strategy to improve careers advice and support further collaborations between the public and private sector.

“If every company in the FTSE 250 and FTSE 100 followed the 1 per cent pledge as part of their commitment to employment and skills, we could create a powerful network of real-world advisers to inform and inspire the next generation,” said Haydn Mursell, chief executive of Kier.

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