National Careers Week – Why should schools care about careers?

This week is National Careers Week. To celebrate, we’re sharing some thoughts on the importance of careers education, advice and guidance throughout the week.

You can find out more about National Careers Week by clicking here.

Why should schools care about careers?

As we know, the Education Act 2011 places a new duty on schools to secure impartial careers guidance for all students in Years 9-11. The government is trying to impress on school leaders the importance of careers guidance but with a recent Institute of Careers Guidance (ICG) survey finding that one in three schools has no plan to deliver careers advice, it appears that the message is struggling to get through.

So how do we increase awareness among school leaders and other staff to ensure that young people don’t miss out?

One suggestion is to take careers guidance out of its ‘box’. There’s a careers room, careers notice board, careers library, careers computer. There’s a couple of careers lessons timetabled each year, plus an interview with an adviser for each student. For many members of staff, careers is something that is delivered by Mr/Mrs X in the careers office.

And this is why careers struggles to get the attention it needs in order to benefit each student.

The job of a school should be to prepare young people for adulthood. It should give them the knowledge and skills to enable them to succeed in life. For most people their career is an integral part of their adult life, so having the opportunity to ‘learn’ about careers has to be a vital part of their education.

The opportunity to learn about careers needs to be embedded throughout the school. It makes learning relevant. Surely it must be disheartening to a maths teacher to have a student ask what the point of learning how to calculate equations is? If that learning was linked to how that skill is used in different careers, the question wouldn’t arise.

That’s not to say that subject teachers should replace careers guidance professionals. Impartial advice to help individual students make decisions about their future must come from a qualified source.  However, by integrating careers within other school activities, learning about future options becomes a natural part of everyday school life.

There are plenty more reasons why schools should care about careers. Careers has a core role to play in school success by motivating students to raise their aspirations and achievement. Careers also has a defining role in student destinations, social mobility, widening participation and raising the participation age activities.

So, even if schools aren’t showing an interest in careers delivery, they have to care about the positive impact that good provision can have on them and their students (and, equally, the negative impact that poor or no provision has).

At CASCAiD, we’re building packages of programs (and working with partners to integrate services, including face-to-face guidance) which help schools to deliver careers effectively. There is more on our website here.

So, the message to school leadership teams is that while careers may not be high on the priority list, the impacts of good or bad (or non-existent) delivery will be. There has to be a whole school commitment to preparing students for their future, particularly in the challenging labour market and careers is at the heart of that.

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