Careers Advice Is Failing Young People, As Students Not Told About Apprenticeships

Careers advice is letting young people down, a report has warned, saying the majority have not been told about apprenticeships.

Less than 10% of unemployed youths received regular career advice in secondary school, with four in five saying they left school ill-equipped to find a job, research has found. Another report slammed the lack of information about apprenticeships, as half of graduates said if they had been made aware, they would have opted for a vocational route instead.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, careers advice website, questioned more than 1,700 young people who had graduated from a UK university in the past two years. More than three quarters (76%) said while at school or college, they were not informed about apprenticeships or vocational training routes as an alternative option to university. Of the respondents, 54% said they would have picked an apprenticeship or vocational training if they had known about the options.

A third of graduates said they would have chosen an alternative route because they would be in a better position at work than they are now, while 77% said they would have avoided debt. A further third said they were now in an industry completely irrelevant to their degree and nearly two in five said they would have found it less stressful than university

The careers advice service has launched its fourth apprenticeship and vocational training guide, which has received support from PwC and entrepreneur Levi Roots, and provides information on the different routes available.

Levi Roots has become a household name after his appearance on Dragons Den

Roots, who appeared on Dragons Den, said: "I was terrible at school, I struggled to learn well... That's why I'm proud to introduce the guide. If you're at school or college and you're looking to create a path for yourself in life it makes sense to examine all the possibilities out there.

"If you're thinking that getting a degree falls short for you then take a look at this guide and think about an apprenticeship."

Employment specialist Working Links has also published a report highlighting the lack of careers advice, particularly in relation to apprenticeships.

The Finding a Future report revealed just 9% of unemployed young people received regular career advice in secondary school, and less than one in five young people left school well-informed about apprenticeship. A mere 14% of young unemployed people were told about other vocational options at school.

Craig Axtell, 22, had a few false starts in his journey from school to work. "Careers advice was very minimal," he says. "In total, it was a one-hour session with an advisor, who sat us down and told us to get good grades. They offered me no real help or advice about which jobs would suit me, or were available in the area. You are expected to do all that for yourself.

"I couldn’t rely on my teachers for advice either. A few of them were good, but because most of them have no experience doing any other job, or what it’s like to look for work, there advice wasn’t specific enough to be useful."

At a recent apprenticeship conference, Lord Adonis raised concerns over the lack of career advice in schools, and the lack of experience teachers had to offer young people.

"Most, if not all, teachers are in their jobs because they went to university," he said. "Young people need to talk to adults who have been through vocational routes to get where they are today."

In an exclusive blog for The Huffington Post UK, the Labour peer warned of a "black hole" for thousands of young people as apprenticeships are being awarded to those in their 20s, and not teenagers.

The report urged schools to embed careers advice and employability into the curriculum to help combat youth unemployment, which currently stands at 974,000.

Businesses have expressed frustration at being unable to form closer links to schools, and business leaders have voiced their concern of the focus on academic routes which discourage young people from exploring alternative options that might better enable them to secure employment in the future.

Stephen Evans, Working Links’ employment and skills director, said: "Young people have been let down by careers advice services for too long. We need this to change and place employability at the heart of our education system, preparing young people for working life."

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