Claire Granados, Principal at Quest Professional, a business college focused on equipping A-level and university leavers with the business acumen, employability and interview skills required to fast-track aspiring students into the world of work, highlights the urgent need to improve careers advice in schools…
According to a recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) 84% of businesses felt that the careers advice young people receive in schools is overwhelmingly poor. Those surveyed commented that the quality and consistency of careers advice is inadequate, with skills rarely aligned to differing sectors. These statistics are startling but what can be done to equip young people with the knowledge to choose their path?
I believe now is the time for careers advice in schools to receive a major overhaul. It is disappointing that despite the UK government’s commitment to improving vocational training, schools make little mention of alternative options for those keen to enter the professional world of work and not wishing to go to university.
Diversifying careers education to ensure students are aware of options other than university is crucial. Whilst a degree can be a valuable qualification, simply having one does not automatically provide post grads a passport into a well-paid job. In the past, options not requiring a degree such as accounting, business courses and top tier apprenticeships were widely respected. Business qualifications as well as highly esteemed apprenticeships are still excellent options but rarely promoted to students.
It is essential that we overturn the view that attending university is the only pathway to a successful career. Schools themselves must celebrate the successes of students who achieve through a multitude of routes. Promoting students who have progressed to widely respected business courses alongside those attending Oxbridge is important in encouraging students to consider their options.
Careers advisors must also ensure there is a holistic approach to job searching with training focused on preparing the individual for every stage of the process. Often schools encourage students to focus on preparing a good CV – certainly an important step, but far from the only preparation a young person needs to secure a job. Practical skills including initiative, teamwork and resilience are essential and must be ingrained before students enter the workplace.