Just 15% of young people think they’ll get the job they want

Young people see failing tests and not getting desired qualifications as the biggest barriers to landing their first job.

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Careers confidence is worryingly low among young people aged 13-15, according to new research. Despite over two thirds (68%) of the UK’s young people thinking a great or fair amount about their future careers, only 15% feel confident in their ability to secure the job they want.

The research follows the release of The WOW Show, a new education show lifting the lid on the world of work to give young people careers inspiration, which was broadcast live into classrooms across the country in May. The research surveyed 1,000 young people aged 13-15 in careers advice cold spots, such as Cambridge and Cornwall, before and after the broadcast to reveal the state of careers advice in schools today.

According to students, the academic route is still the best option after leaving school, with 40% choosing university as their next step, compared with just 13% taking an apprenticeship and 22% wanting to go straight into a job. Respondents saw failing tests and not achieving desired qualifications as the biggest barriers to getting their first job.

The research also revealed a lack of available careers advice. While 65% of students are interested in receiving careers advice, respondents often struggled to remember careers advice unless it had involved a visit to a careers fair. Meanwhile, although teachers said they were proud of the careers advice offered in their schools, students were often unaware of or unresponsive to it, highlighting the need for more impactful careers advice in schools.

Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds and ILM said: “Careers advice interventions like The WOW Show have a crucial role to play in breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes about the workplace and exposing young people to a wide range of jobs. As skills gaps widen across the UK, it’s essential that young people understand the different career paths that are available to them – be that the academic route, vocational training, or directly into employment. By making careers advice accessible to the young people who really need it, The WOW Show is not only levelling the playing field but also supporting employers, by widening the pool of potential candidates. This can only be a good thing for the UK.”

 

"As skills gaps widen across the UK, it’s essential that young people understand the different career paths that are available to them – be that the academic route, vocational training, or directly into employment. By making careers advice accessible to the young people who really need it, The WOW Show is not only levelling the playing field but also supporting employers, by widening the pool of potential candidates. This can only be a good thing for the UK.”

Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of The Edge Foundation, said: “With technology and automation changing the world of work at an unprecedented rate, quality careers information, advice and guidance for young people is more critical than ever. This research shows that programmes such as The WOW Show can be a valuable teaching tool, helping teachers and careers advisors to start the process of broadening students’ awareness of different careers, contributing to the achievement of the Gatsby Benchmarks.

“Most importantly, the research highlights the disconnect between what students believe they need for a successful career and the reality of what employers want and our economy needs. As our education system prioritises exam grades over skills, character development and experience, so young people are increasingly ill-prepared for the workplace. Hearing about other peoples’ career paths and journeys – through FE, apprenticeships and in work training – can open up possibilities for youngsters who have become stifled by the current narrow, Victorian curriculum.”

Other findings from the research included:

  • Respondents rated visits to employers (38%), help with CV writing (29%), and employers giving talks at school (26%) as the most useful forms of careers advice.
  • YouTube is seen as the most trusted channel for providing careers advice with 36% of respondents picking it. This increased to 43% among respondents after watching the show.
  • The research showed a clear gender divide in the career aspirations of young people. Women are more likely to choose careers in healthcare, teaching and art and design whereas the men are opting for engineering, computing or construction.

 

It needn't be this way, though! Take a look at the variety of school leaver jobs out there. 

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