The Careers Alliance has previously called for more employer engagement in careers education and work-related learning in schools and colleges, and has emphasised the importance of improved co-ordination between employers, professional careers advisers and schools/colleges.
The Education Select Committee welcomed ‘the Government’s support for the increased involvement of local employers in careers guidance in schools, which is vital for effective careers provision’. It added: ‘We recommend that schools be required to set out in their careers plans their arrangements with local employers and how they intend to enhance them.’
Yet Ofsted found that ‘[l]inks with employers were the weakest aspect of career guidance in the 60 schools visited. About two thirds of the schools reported that they had cut down on their work experience provision… for budgetary reasons and because of the recommendation in the Wolf report.’
Besides improving youth employment, preparing young people for the world of work is crucial. Yet the findings of a City & Guilds survey of 1,000 employers shows that almost 80% of employers think work experience is essential to ensuring young people are ready for work, yet 60% of employers remain uncertain on how to deliver the most effective work experience placements and would welcome guidelines and support.
The Careers Alliance welcomes the recently launched UKCES and CIPD employer guides on making work experience work for young people and employers. These reports offer practical advice to employers about offering high-quality work experience and encourage more employers to get involved. Work experience opportunities can help young people learn about the world of work, open their eyes to the range and variety of career opportunities open to them, and connect their learning at school or college to the world of work.
More than ‘inspiration’ needed
However, more is needed than ‘inspiring young people’. Young people in schools and colleges need professional support to help them make informed choices about subjects to study, qualification pathways and routes into employment. Professional careers advisers have a crucial role in working with schools and employers to provide brokerage, manage careers programmes and provide professional career guidance.
The Careers Alliance paper explains how the roles of employers and professional careers advisers are distinctive and complementary when Government policy statements have set up an unhelpful dichotomy between the career support provided by careers advisers and the career learning opportunities that are provided by interactions with employers.