Careers advice is an absolute, hands-down essential part of education. So why are 93% of young people not getting any? What's the point in being equipped with skills and knowledge if you don't know what to do with it? What's the point in having a choice between school, college, apprenticeships, university or setting up your own business, if you don't even know those choices exist?
There are several problems with the current system:
a) Schools are legally required to provide careers advice, however checking this is happening is difficult. Not only has Ofsted warned three out of four schools are failing to provide impartial career advice, a whopping 93% of young people say they're not getting adequate advice.
b) Many of the school league tables are based on how many pupils achieve top A-levels, and more recently, data is available for how many went to top universities. So why would schools encourage their students to choose other routes which didn't involve A-levels or university?
c) Despite university finally being recognised as not the only route, only 30% of men and 23% of women received advice on starting an apprenticeship
A report by Barnardo's revealed the young people are at risk of becoming a generation of aimless, career-less 'inbetweeners'. One young person told the charity:
"I didn't really know what I wanted to do. In school you always get told that you need to go to university and that. You don't get taught much about trades and that. It was just go to sixth form, or go to college, but when you're not the academic kind you don't want to do that."
Another, from a state school in Berkshire, told us:
"The careers adviser only spent time with Oxbridge candidates. Everyone else was told to pick their top five universities. I didn't even know apprenticeships existed until midway through uni."
Every week I am deluged with emails from professionals, entrepreneurs and apprentice providers, chomping at the bit to offer their tips, their advice, their stories, to young people - to educate, inform and inspire them.
That's why we've launched Skills Space. It's a place young people can visit if they're not getting the careers advice they need from their school, university or college.
It's a place where professionals - and students - can impart vital knowledge about getting in to "the industry", they can share their success stories, and more importantly, their stories of overcoming failure.
We're partnering with O2's GoThinkBig, and they'll be providing us with lots of tips and advice on kickstarting your future. First, a bit on them. They exist to help support young people into the world of work - delivering relevant opportunities to gain experience and useful content to give young people the tips and advice that they need to succeed in a competitive work environment.
Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, who heads up the website, says: "With the number of young people unemployed remaining stubbornly high, we are really pleased that the Huffington Post UK have also recognised the need to help young people on their transition from education to the workplace.
"This month we are partnering with Skills Space to bring more relevant content to more young people across the country to help them get a foot on the ladder. With support from O2 and Bauer Media we have been able to help over 10,000 young people gain work experience opportunities in our first year and hopefully with this partnership we will be able to help even more."
We'll also be getting NACUE involved, as well as other great companies and skills providers.
We're only intending to run this through April, but if it's a success, then we'll most certainly continue.
If Skills Space provides just one person with the information they need to start their journey, whether it be into further or higher education, or setting up a business, then it'll be a job well done.
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