85% Of Teachers In The North West Believe Pupils Are Less Ready For The World Of Work
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
New polling has today highlighted significant concern amongst teachers and businesses about how prepared young people are for the world of work – particularly following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The polling is released by education charity Teach First as they launch a new report, Careers Education: Investing in Our Country’s Future . The report makes a series of recommendations on how improving careers education – and increasing business engagement with schools – can help level up opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The data reveals that more than 8 in 10 teachers (85%) in North West schools said their pupils are less ready for the world of work when compared to previous cohorts, while more than 50% of teachers believe the pandemic has left their pupils feeling less optimistic about their career prospects.
Teach First also conducted a survey of over 500 HR decision makers from British businesses and found they share this concern, with 63% of North West businesses saying they are concerned that ‘lost learning’ from the pandemic will exacerbate the skills shortage amongst pupils and students.
“Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people.
While grades are hugely important, the research suggests that other skills are also highly valued by employers. When asked to select the top three skills that they would consider most if recruiting young people, they were most likely to choose broader soft skills (69%), literacy and numeracy (65%), and digital and IT skills (51%). However, when asked to give their assessment of the preparedness of current school, college and university leavers, 73% of local businesses said that they were concerned about their level of soft skills. They also reported concerns about the level of literacy and numeracy (75%) and digital and IT skills (61%).
In their new report Teach First argues in favour of a series of recommendations which they believe could make a tangible impact on young people’s employability. Almost two thirds (65%) of local teachers agreed that improved careers education would decrease the number of young people that end up classified as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Children on free school meals are currently twice as likely to be NEET at age 18-24 compared to those not (26% compared to 13%).
To help tackle this, Teach First believe careers education needs to start at primary school level. Teachers agree, with over 6 in 10 (62%) primary schools teachers in the North West believing career-related learning for their pupils will help raise aspirations, and 7 in 10 (71%) said it will raise their pupils’ awareness of different career pathways.
The DfE recently made a welcome commitment for a new careers programme for primary schools in disadvantaged areas in the recent Schools White Paper. In order to be as effective as possible, Teach First wants the DfE to work with sector leaders and publish a framework for effective careers learning in primary schools based on the Gatsby benchmarks and pair this with a new fund that trains and supports primary teachers working in disadvantaged areas.
Based on their own experience of successfully training Career Leaders in secondary schools, Teach First estimate this would cost £8.5m to support the top 10% most disadvantaged primary schools by pupils’ free school meal eligibility – which is approximately 2,000 primary schools.
The report also calls for a series of other key recommendations, including:
Large employers to offer blended work experience programmes for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst in-person work experience will continue to be crucial, online options offer employers a chance to diversify their recruitment and widen participation – particularly to regions outside of London.
Large employers should collect and publish socioeconomic background data to inform their outreach work with schools and recruitment policies. This will ensure disadvantaged pupils, who are far less likely to access work placements through their family networks, are helped to secure the same opportunities to vital careers knowledge and experience.
The Department for Education should use destinations data to target additional transitional support at schools and colleges that serve disadvantaged communities
Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:
“Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people. Careers education is an essential part of that – making a significant impact on a young person’s development at school, as well as their future employment opportunities. Schools do their best to prepare pupils for the world of work, but that is not their core purpose. That is why we believe it is essential that employers are involved in shaping the future of careers education.
“For too long, securing high quality careers advice and work experience has been a postcode lottery – that must change. With concerns over the cost-of-living crisis, and a potential recession later in the year, it’s vital that we do everything we can to give our young people the best possible chance to succeed and thrive in the world of work”.
Nerys Steventon, Teach First Careers Leader, Adelaide School, Crewe said:
“Schools in disadvantaged communities, like mine, often have limited funding so can’t prioritise CPD in careers education or pay increases for Careers Leaders. We work hard to provide every pupil eligible for careers education in our school has a bespoke plan. From Year 4, we start to include careers education lesson objectives in lessons. We host speakers, take pupils on careers related trips, and our year 10’s and 11’s complete work experience with local employers.
“In an ideal world, I’d love to see one centralised programme for careers education, which includes a pupil facing platform, allows Careers Leaders to track and report their progress and continues to support pupils after they leave school. This one stop shop should be free for schools that need extra funding and support, and should enable all schools, from primary to secondary to deliver suitable careers education for students of all different abilities.
“Until the role of a Careers Leader is seen as a non-negotiable in education, like the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs), Careers Leaders like me will continue without the necessary support and struggle to make the greatest impact. Careers education shouldn’t be an afterthought, or something only some schools can afford to deliver, it should be a universal right for every pupil.”