National Careers Week – An earlier introduction to careers

For the second day of National Careers Week, we look at why it’s important to introduce the concept of a career early.

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

An earlier introduction to careers

At what age should young people start to learn about different careers? The Education Act 2011 requires careers guidance to be provided from the year in which the majority of students reach age 14. However, the government plans to consult on extending this duty down to Year 8.

By not introducing careers earlier, we’re missing out on the opportunity to raise aspirations and cement ambitions.

Research shows that children as young as 7 have an interest in going to university but in a lot of cases by age 13 this has diminished. This has been recognised by a number of higher education institutions which are embarking on schemes to engage with primary school pupils.

Nottingham University is the latest to get involved in the IntoUniversity programme, which leads activity designed to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to attain either a university place or another chosen aspiration.

Primary school pupils have an appetite for exploration, so giving them the chance to find out about different careers before they are exposed to situations which may stifle their ambition by pigeon-holing them is vital.

Last year, as part of a research project, CASCAiD explored how Key Stage 2 pupils react to activities which introduce the concept of learning about different careers.

In all cases, we saw a positive response from pupils. There were some great positive impacts too, including one Year 5 pupil who decided to join the after-school science club after learning about careers involving science.

One of the schools that we visited was in a deprived inner city area where the head teacher felt that introducing children to careers was crucial as many of the pupils were from families which are largely unemployed and therefore the children had no awareness of jobs or careers.

So, while secondary school is undoubtedly the place for careers advice and guidance (although we believe students would benefit from earlier intervention from Year 7/8), the time for starting to explore what’s out there is definitely in primary school.

It’s crucial for harnessing ambition and increasing social mobility.

You can read more about careers delivery in primary schools here.

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