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24th Oct, 2022

Claire Seeley
Claire Seeley
Job Title
Business Development Executive

What are the changes?

In September 2022, amendments were made to the existing careers advice guidance. The previous guidelines in Section 42A of the Education Act 1997, required maintained schools, special schools, and pupil referral units in England to provide independent careers guidance to pupils in school years 8 to 13.

This has now been extended to include pupils in year 7 and incorporates the need for academies to also comply.

In addition to extending the age bracket, there is also a duty on schools to ensure they provide students with access to a range of providers who can discuss technical education and apprenticeships.

The Department for Education is also encouraging schools to consider using digital resources and online communications to deliver virtual careers experiences if activities cannot be delivered in person.

What we have learned as an employer

Youth unemployment is falling. 372,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in June-August 2022, that’s 62,000 fewer than the previous quarter and down 122,000 from the same quarter in 2021, according to the House of Commons Library. Therefore, we are seeing the lowest level of youth unemployment since records began in 1992. While these statistics are a positive trajectory, there are still hundreds of thousands of young people unemployed, highlighting the important role that young people have to play in the recovery of our economy.

We’re still seeing many organisations reluctant to take on school leavers, with some expressing that students lack confidence when making their transition into the workplace. This is something that the government has been actively trying to address over the past few years, especially with the introduction of T-Levels which aim to bridge the gap between school and employment. These qualifications were created in collaboration with employers and industry experts to ensure the content meets the needs of the sector, and if we are to continue to bridge this gap, further collaboration with employers is essential.

How important is collaboration between schools and employers?

Young people’s readiness for the world of work isn’t just the responsibility of schools, but also that of employers – both play a role in helping students understand the options available to them when they leave full-time education. From personal experience working with schools, students up to year 11 often don’t understand the different options available – with many not looking beyond college, which is reflected in only four percent of school leavers taking on an apprenticeship.

Historically, the typical career path was to study GCSEs, followed by A-Levels, move straight into university to complete an undergraduate degree, before finding an entry-level job in your chosen career and working your way up the ladder. Over the past decade this has steadily changed.

With young people legally bound to stay in education until they are 18, we have seen the resurgence of apprenticeship schemes. Where traditionally, apprenticeships were only found within trade or practical industries, these are now available across a wide range of sectors, opening students up to more possibilities and future career paths, beyond university.

Schools should be educating young people on the benefits of apprenticeships, and employers should also ensure their apprenticeship schemes are accessible, competitive, and visible to them. As previously mentioned, only four percent of school leavers are embarking on this career path, so it should be made more of a priority in schools to educate students in this pathway. This combined with the recent statutory change, should help to increase the number of school leavers choosing an apprenticeship and it will be interesting to see how these figures will rise in the coming years.

In addition, careers advice being extended to include year 7 students means that from an earlier age, young people can be better equipped with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their future.

Implementing quality career guidance in a post-Covid world

I understand the difficulty that many schools face in engaging employers in a post-covid world, where hybrid working means that being present in a workplace can be tricky. Therefore, schools need to be open to virtual and online careers programmes where students will be able to engage with a hybrid world. This, alongside the challenges we are seeing with students’ readiness for work, is why we have developed our ‘Gateway to work’ solution to help level the playing field. Gateway to work offers a five-step e-learning programme designed to help students successfully enter the world of work.

During the e-learning course, pupils will have the opportunity to work through five modules to build their skills, knowledge, and confidence, ready to begin their careers. They will be encouraged to identify suitable career options, complete a virtual work experience placement with a top-named company, build an effective CV and more.

For teaching staff, the inbuilt coaching functionality helps to facilitate effective one-to-one conversations with students and to help maintain student engagement, we also provide supporting assembly and classroom-based resources.

The impact of Covid-19 on the labour market has meant that the need for schools to work in partnership with outside organisations - such as employers – and provide better quality careers guidance for all ages, is not only welcomed, but critical to the success of young people and their future careers.

For more information about Gateway to work, get in touch today.