School leavers want more support from employers, says report

Employers have been urged to take a more proactive role in providing career advice for school leavers after research revealed that the overwhelming majority of students wanted more guidance from them.

A new report from business advisory firm Deloitte, commissioned by the Education and Employers Taskforce charity, highlights the substantial divide between what young people want from their careers advice experience at school and what they get, including the level of employer involvement.

A survey of 500 school leavers conducted for the report showed that 95% would like employers to be more involved in providing advice and guidance about careers and jobs.

Recalling their experience of the last two years, 42% of those surveyed said they had no contact with employers at all, while 40% had contact with between one and four employers. The pupils who had been in contact with four or more employers in the last two years of school were nearly twice as likely to believe that they had a good idea of the knowledge and skills needed for the jobs they wanted to do, the survey revealed.

David Cruickshank, Deloitte chairman and taskforce trustee, said: “This report shows the importance of employers playing an active part in the school curriculum, and critically that this is recognised by schools, employers and by young people themselves.

“The involvement of employers, when done properly, motivates, inspires and informs young people, and prepares them for the workplace by making them aware of the skills and attitudes employers expect them to have.”

Nick Chambers, director of the Education and Employers Taskforce, added: “A careers education where schools and employers work together helps build young people’s understanding of the opportunities open to them and raises their aspirations and motivation.”

The report showed that, while good practices exist, schools and employers face a range of barriers to working together, including:

  • Communication: employers and schools not knowing who to speak to or how to develop relationships with each other.
  • Awareness: employers not knowing what schools want, and schools not knowing what employers can offer.
  • Capability and experience: employers can be unsure how to best engage with schools and young people; teachers and head teachers usually receive little help and support on how best to access support from employers.
  • Geography: schools in rural areas or certain parts of the country can struggle to access a diverse range of employers.

The report recommends:

  • Encouraging employers to contribute to careers advice by making it easier for them to understand the role they could play.
  • Encouraging the development of effective sustainable partnerships between schools and employers and demonstrating the mutual benefits to both.
  • Developing the school workforce by supporting professional development in this area.
  • Raising the priority of careers education, information, advice and guidance in the curriculum so it is embedded in more lessons.

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