Interview

Careers guidance in schools: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

By: Adrian Oldfield, Chairman at ZootAlore
Published: Friday, January 23, 2015 - 11:09 GMT Jump to Comments

The world is changing! It has changed so much over the past two decades we can no longer expect a job for life, or even expect to use one set of skills for life.

We are seeing a rapid growth in technology, emerging economies, globalisation. This growth should be great news, but the way we prepare young people for the world of work isn’t keeping up.

Perhaps we need to look at the role of schools. The measure of the UK's secondary schools is purely the academic achievement of five good GCSEs, and the desire to feed universities. Schools are placed on league tables by these results, so clearly this is their main focus.

Maybe one additional measure should be how well schools do in relation to the employability of those not suited to, or choosing not to go onto further education. It is very important that young people leave school equipped with a satisfactory level of numeracy and literacy, but there is not enough done to support other employment skills. I see many young people who have no basic employability skills, and they also don’t have a clue what they want to do for a living! 

In the UK it used to be mandatory for young people to attend a period of work experience, usually two weeks block release. This was made optional by the coalition government, and the result is that work experience simply doesn’t exist in many schools. Now, much of that work experience had no structure, and it certainly never attracted a work based qualification. But rather than scrap the programme, why wasn’t it given an overhaul?    

Rather than avoid work experience in secondary schools, what we need is a programme designed to feed employer demand. Why don’t we map changes in technology, employment trends, emerging sectors and then take the results of this mapping and develop the employability aspect of the curriculum? Young people are often leaving school at 18 now, yet they are no more equipped to deal with the demands of the labour market than if they were leaving at 16.

We need an intervention at year 10 (14yrs), which will plant the seed of work in young people and help them decide the best career path. If structured properly, based on GCSE expectations, psychometric testing, labour market intelligence and aspiration, work experience could see our young people enter the workplace with more credibility. Even those young people opting to go to University will draw on the experience gained for years to come - but is has to be an effective placement.

Careers guidance in the UK does not get the attention it deserves. Indeed, we recently heard of a school receptionist being trained to deliver careers advice! Employers have a rich pool of job seekers to recruit from, and our young people need and deserve more support if they are to compete for that job.

Across the EU there are horror stories, and many countries are sitting with youth unemployment around 30%. Greece has already seen its youth unemployment rate peak at 64%. Many of these economies have a bigger problem, as their economies struggle to enter new markets aside from traditional tourist sectors. They will need time to develop, but once they do they will need to fill demand for these jobs with well trained young people.

We should be encouraged by the jobs growth of the USA and the UK. Spain and France are also seeing improvements, so it maybe isn’t as bad as this headline. But one thing is certain; if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Adrian Oldfield is Chairman at ZootAlore. ZootAlore! Group Employment Services is all about helping out colleges, employers and individuals make the best of themselves in today's working world.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

Comments

Latest

Outdated infrastructure and an increasingly fragmented market threaten the future of technology-enabled integrated care.

County Durham voters back devolution in the North-East, Sir Digby Jones considers run for West Midlands mayor…

The recent launch of The Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016 on London’s digital future, sets out a clear agenda…

The manufacturing industry is currently facing scrutiny from parties concerned for its survival. Far from facing…

Almost a year ago, I made some predictions for what would take place in government and public sector customer…

Sheffield, Warrington and Doncaster announce cuts, Lincolnshire is held to data ransom, fight begins for West…

Working for an education charity delivering numeracy and literacy programmes in primary schools, I’m only…

Northamptonshire County Council recently received the maximum four star rating from Better connected after putting…

Historically, the entrance of new generations into the workplace has caused varying levels of disruption. The…

Following another commendation for digital services, Surrey County Council's Web and Digital Services Manager,…

We cannot carry on spinning the roulette wheel that is cyber security, knowing that the “castle and moat”…

This week David Cameron wades into row over £69m of cuts planned by Oxfordshire CC; Stoke on Trent plans…