Delivering post-16 guidance

Earlier this year, the Department for Education released the report ‘The role of Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) in young people’s education and employment choices’.  This presented the findings of a five-year research project that reviewed young people’s attitudes to IAG from Year 9 (aged 12-13) to Year 13 (aged 17-18).  In this post, I discuss the findings of the report and look at methods for improving guidance for young people aged 16 and over.

In 2004, some 16,000 young people were interviewed in Year 9.  The students were then followed up and interviewed every year for the next five years.  This period encompassed their GCSEs and the following two years, covering A levels, if they chose to take that route.

The survey produced some interesting results.   Findings indicated that careers guidance was more beneficial for young people before the age of 16.  The report concluded that it is, “difficult to detect any lasting effect of CE/IAG on the choices young people actually make after reaching the minimum school age”.

I find this surprising.  Before the end of Year 11 (the last compulsory school year), young people need to make important decisions about education and training.  These decisions are likely to have a significant impact on the type of career they go into.  A statutory guidance framework is delivered in Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) to ensure young people are provided with the knowledge and skills to make decisions about their future.

The Key Stage 4 statutory guidance framework helps to ensure that guidance is delivered to a required standard.  The framework covers a range of factors that affect young people’s education, training and career aspirations.  This framework adds value to the IAG a young person receives.

After taking GCSEs and moving into post-16 education, young people are required to make a number of choices about their career aspirations.  They need to be aware of the opportunities available to them, including Apprenticeships, work-based training and higher education (HE).  For future success, young people need to consider their career ambitions and what entry routes into their chosen careers are available.  With the cost of HE rising and demand for university places increasing, it is important for young people to be career conscious, with the knowledge to decide whether HE is the best option for them and their career ambitions.

This year, university applications have risen from 482,000 to 660,000.  It is possible that many young people who have studied A levels see university as the only method of furthering their education, and might not be aware of alternative options such as Apprenticeships, management training schemes and part-time study.  The evaluation of post-18 education, training and employment options is included in the new post-16 guidance framework (Principles 3.2 and 3.3).  This helps to ensure that young people are aware of all their options for decision-making post-18.  Had the post-16 framework been in place at the time of the research, young people’s experiences of IAG as described in the report might have been more positive.

A BBC report, released this summer, stated that over 150,000 students will miss out on a degree place this year.  These students will either have to defer for a year or look at alternatives such as Apprenticeships or management training schemes.  This further demonstrates the need for quality guidance post-16, as young people need to be able to make back-up plans, in case they are unable to secure their favoured post-18 options.

There is a range of help available for young people aged 16-19.  Schools’ careers advice services and Connexions allow young people to discuss their options face to face with an advisor.  The young person might also be able to access IAG tools such as Careerscape, an extremely beneficial resource for young people in Key Stage 4 and aged 16 and over.  Within Careerscape are articles that provide young people with knowledge of their options at 16 and 18.  There are also job profiles for over 1,800 career titles, many with case studies, videos and photographs.

Every career in Careerscape contains entry and training information.  Where a degree is required or beneficial for a career, Careerscape links directly to the relevant courses on the UCAS database, allowing young people to see the study options for their choice of career.  This information allows young people to see the options available at 16 and 18, research careers they are interested in and plan progression into that career, evaluating whether an HE course is the best option.  Using the information in Careerscape, young people can also make fall-back plans in case their first choice education, training or employment plans are unsuccessful.

Careerscape also contains information about AS and A level decisions, the Diploma, Apprenticeships, gap years and higher education.  There is information on work experience, voluntary work and other work topics such as job hunting and job applications.  I believe the wealth of study and employment information makes Careerscape ideal for young people considering their options, and for ensuring that they have access to the information they need to make decisions.

If you have an opinion about careers education for people aged 16 – 19, please leave a comment.

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