I recently saw a tweet referring to an article from FE NEWS about how well schools prepare children for their future as the All Party Parliamentary Group for Education (APPG) published their inquiry-based paper ‘How well do schools prepare children for their future?’
I’ve paraphrased the article below and added a few pointers of my own. The APPG paper is a response to the latest figures which reveal that youth unemployment currently stands at 13.1% , when the national average is 4.8%. Additionally, the UKCES 2015 Employer Skills Survey reported that 1 in 4 vacancies are not being filled because businesses cannot find, or access, the right people. NOW, aside from me wondering how many of those employers ACTUALLY do anything to support young peoples’ career development, let’s see what the report says:
The APPG inquiry sought written evidence to a number of questions, including:
- What should our schools be focusing on in order to prepare young people for the future?
- Do education providers have the resources to prepare young people for the workforce?
- What is the quality and effectiveness of current careers advice and guidance?
- How wide is the STEM skills gap?
The APPG hopes to inform and influence the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and inform the Government of their findings.
The inquiry findings produced the following highlights:
Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects still fail to meet the skills requirements of the various associated industries: 43% of digital technology companies report that their growth is being limited by skills shortages which is representative of the STEM sectors as a whole.
Many young people leaving education are unqualified to work in STEM fields, sadly the inquiry found that attitudes towards STEM subject paths are still a significant barrier for many. STEM subjects are looked upon as being difficult and not for the less academically able student. Therefore many students immediately rule them out. Also, confusingly many STEM careers, such as engineering, are perceived as manual or of low status, which leads to many high-performing students looking elsewhere.
STEM subjects and careers are still viewed as being largely male – despite a great deal of work and effort from various organisations to bring about change. Women currently make up around only 20% of the UKs STEM workforce. This has to change, and access to relevant, accurate and impartial careers information from a relevant age is crucial.
The APPG inquiry describes CEIAG as ‘the link between schools and the world of work’, and it’s true that CEIAG is one of the most important links. Unfortunately, the research report has found that many schools describe their CEIAG service as ‘patchy’, with many laying the blame on the confusing agenda and statutory duty – and I’m sure schools will also add inconsistent funding to the mix alongside confusion.
A research report from All About School Leavers in 2016 found that 31.2% of school leavers report that they do not know what they want to do after leaving school or college and 78.5% of young people say that their parents are their main source of careers advice.
A particularly concerning statistic from the research inquiry is that young people from lower social capital backgrounds are least likely to benefit from careers advice – and this is the social grouping who stand to benefit the most from such advice.
Non-academic routes into work – such as Apprenticeships – also remain largely hidden to a majority of students, despite the government highlighting them as being a crucial instrument of social mobility. Non-academic qualifications offer a fantastic route into employment and should be placed on an equal footing with the more traditional academic pathways.
The APPG inquiry report made a number of interesting recommendations aimed at tackling the problems identified above. A selection are below:
- Additional funding for schools is needed – funding targeted for CEIAG should be allocated
- Mandatory work experience should be reinstated
- Secondary schools should have a clear structure for careers provision
- Careers and advice should be provided by a qualified, independent counsellor
- Children with SEND should receive more careers based provision
This is all well and good but I think we should go further, in fact we at Innovative Enterprise and National Careers Week have been going further and the following are additional requirements:
- a National Careers Week to celebrate and investigate careers and how they are developing.
- Free easy to use and optional resources to help Make Every Week Careers Week
- School staff placements in industry, business and third sector workplaces
- Projects and challenges supported by businesses and organisations and funded by these organisations through their Corporate Social Responsibility budget and outcomes measured as such.
- Students should be able to get involved in Engineered Random Opportunities to Succeed – see my TEDxWhitehaven talk on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/BILhkke2sfQ
- Finally – our new Vision is as follows: “We want to work with businesses and organiations to support schools and equip every student with the skills, attitudes and armour to help them face the challenges ahead”
Are you with me?