News: Young people need time to make choices

The National Foundation for Educational Research has released a report examining how young people make choices at 14 and 16. The report has significant findings for career guidance professionals.

The research shows a link between schools which appeared to be effective in relation to curriculum management, student support, staff expectations and school leadership, and the young people who were making the most rational, thought-through decisions, and who remained happy with their choices six months later.

When students felt supported in decision-making by the school, they were more influenced by factors such as careers education and guidance provision, and less reliant on external factors such as friends and family.

Young people valued having sufficient time to make choices, the opportunity to have individual conversations with teachers to discuss their options, and detailed, clear and impartial information on courses and pathways so that they could make informed choices. Evidence shows that teachers in 11-18 schools sometimes lacked impartiality by encouraging students to stay at their school sixth forms.

Young people brought different mindsets to the decision-making process, and made decisions differently across and within schools. Their decisions had also often fluctuated over time, even among students who had at first appeared very decided about their choices. These issues suggest that any single approach to support will not work for all young people and that all individuals need varying levels and type of support at different stages in their school careers.

Few young people, particularly at age 14, made the link between careers education and guidance activities and the actual personal decisions they were making, suggesting the need for schools to make such links more explicit.

View the full report on research/data/uploadfiles/RR773.pdf


Since January, 20,000 people have called the new personalised career consultation service run by the University for Industry's learndirect service. The Times Educational Supplement (TES) reports that many people were sceptical when call-centre staff said, "We'll call you back when you want."

But they soon changed their minds. One user says, "The service is fantastic - unparalleled. They've got all the information there in front of them."

Initial results show that in less than six months, half the clients are already in work and shaping new careers.

The 2005 skills white paper called for a review of the adult careers information, advice and guidance service. The resulting learndirect service pilot runs until July 2007. It aims to help 100,000 people start new careers. Two hundred advisers work shifts in two call centres, answering queries from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

Whilst people often feel more comfortable talking over the phone than going to an advice centre, there are challenges for the advisers who have to communicate with people from a variety of backgrounds and psychological states, but without any of the usual non-verbal cues.


As thousands of school leavers embark on new careers, Skillsmart Retail has released the results of a survey of 14-19 year olds. It reveals that the three most popular career choices are: setting up their own business, with 41 per cent of those polled considering this as an option, IT/computing (36 per cent) and the music industry (30 per cent). Just 21 per cent would consider a career in retailing.

With the retail sector employing around three million people in the UK, or one in nine of the working population, Skillsmart Retail explored attitudes and perceptions among key groups including UK careers advisors (a major influence on young peoples' career choices), 14-19-year-olds and major retail employers, such as House of Fraser, Debenhams, Asda, Oasis, Wallis and John Lewis.

Karen Charlesworth, head of research at Skillsmart Retail warned, " Unless retailers take action now to promote retail as a career of choice, difficulties with recruitment and retention will be compounded. With retailing already present in every neighbourhood in the UK, not to mention the additional jobs that will be created as a result of the UK's winning Olympic bid, retail is a career that can offer significant employment opportunities."

Most careers advisors said they support school leavers moving into retail, with 85 per cent agreeing that retail was the best sector for developing skills useful in any workplace. However, Skillsmart Retail says retail offers further advantages, including the potential for rapid career progression, flexible working hours and the opportunity to specialise.


Twenty-six schools and colleges from Wales have been honoured at the Careers Wales Quality Award ceremony, which recognises excellence in the provision of careers education and guidance, as well as work-related education.

Established in 2004, the Careers Wales Quality Award is at the centre of Careers Wales' drive for higher standards within any institution that caters for students between 14 and 19 years old. This includes secondary schools, further education colleges, special schools and off-site units.

Assessors grade institutions on management and delivery of careers services, as well as their willingness to continue to modernise their approach and encourage individuals to embrace broader lifestyle-related issues in relation to career/education choices.

Lesley Rees, executive director of Careers Wales, commented: "The principle aim of the Careers Wales Quality Award is to help to ensure that all young people in Wales are afforded an equal entitlement to the highest standard of careers guidance and work-related learning. All those recognised at the ceremony are working to a very high standard and this is very much a celebration of the great work they're undertaking in this field."


Over 90 per cent of undergraduates in the UK say that going to university is definitely worth the financial burden, according to new research sponsored by Capital One and conducted by Hobsons. Given their time again, only 11 per cent of UK students would miss out on university life and go straight into the work place. But over a quarter of undergraduates also said that they would have chosen a different degree to study if they'd know more about the current career market.

Among graduates looking for full-time employment, the most popular career areas include business management, engineering, finance and management consulting, the study found.

A study by HECSU, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, also found that students consider university a good investment. When asked their reasons for choosing their course of study, 66 per cent of applicants agreed with the statement that it would lead to good employment opportunities in general, while a third, 43 per cent, stated they needed to complete their course to enter a particular profession.


This years ICG Conference and Exhibition returns to Glasgow after an 18 year absence and careers professionals from across the UK are expected to flock to the flagship event.

ICG has decided to once again stick to Thursday and Friday, allowing you to return home for the weekend. So 9-10 November is a must if you are interested in uniting as one voice and declaring to stakeholders that Career Guidance remains a strong profession.

The two-days are packed with workshops, keynote speakers, National Career Awards, AGM, an exhibition and the president's gala dinner. Each facet of the conference offers something to help you develop as a practitioner. If you have yet to book call 01384 445626 or email For further details on the conference see page 10.


Richard Longson, head of careers at Leicester Grammar School, will be appointed as the new vice president of the Institute of Career Guidance in November. Currently the ICG East Midlands council representative, Richard will be appointed vice president in 2006/07 before taking on the full presidency in 2007/08.

"As current regional representative for the East Midlands I am committed to the continued growth of our regional base, which enables members to meet more easily to share good practice and have the opportunity to discuss the issues which affect them. Through such discussions we have been able to then in turn help shape the Institute's agenda for the future and I hope I am now able to steer this focus at national level," Longson said.

The ICG Presidential Cycle is a three-year commitment. In the first year the nominee will become the vice president and as such, sit on the Board of the Institute. Following this comes their presidential year and then the final year is their role as immediate past-president, a post currently inhabited by Liam Duffy.


The University of Manchester's Careers Service has been voted the best in the country for the fourth year running. It has consistently topped the league since the first survey was commissioned in 2002.

Over 100 graduate recruiters, who collectively employed over 11,000 graduates in the past year, took part in the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR)/ Barkers National Graduate Media Audit. Manchester retained its leading position ahead of Cambridge and Oxford, whose university careers services ranked second and third respectively.

Jane Ratchford, director of the Careers & Employability Division at The University of Manchester, said: "We're delighted to be number one in the country again. It's a testimony to all the hard work put in by our staff to maintain our standards and our reputation for effective services.

"We're constantly innovating to give our students a head start in their careers, helping them establish contacts, gain work experience and develop career-related skills. This year, for example, saw the launch of the Manchester Leadership Programme, which introduces students to the notion of sustainable leadership and community engagement, while equipping them with skills that are sought-after by graduate recruiters."

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, commented: "Careers services play a key role in bridging the gap between graduate and employer. A positive relationship with a university careers service is essential for the graduate recruiter, and dealing with one that is objective and can provide a service over and above the basics is the key to success. Congratulations go to Manchester for yet again being voted the best."

The university received particular praise for its programme of careers fairs. Next academic year sees the introduction of the Diversity Fair (formerly the Ethnic Diversity Fair, now expanded to support a wider group of students); the Student Part-Time Jobs Fair, which aims to help students find part-time work during their studies, and the Chinese Recruitment Fair, which will enable organisations to meet with up to 2,500 Chinese students across the UK, as part of the University's commitment to its international student community.


Over half of college leavers believe they will have better skills and find jobs more easily than graduates, according to a new survey by recruitment consultancy Angela Mortimer. What's more, over a fifth of respondents are confident they will earn more money than graduates by entering the job market now and 12 per cent believe they will have less debt.

The study also found that three-quarters would happily work for free to get their foot on the ladder and 81 per cent are prepared to take on temporary work, indicating the level of competition that exists to gain entry level jobs. "This attitude is realistic and reflects what our clients are saying," says Ashley Williams, director of partnership products, at Angela Mortimer. "They want to employ support staff who are bright, motivated and keen to learn - for these people the sky is the limit in terms of development opportunities."

The world of media topped the poll in terms of industry preference, gaining a 40 per cent share of vote. This was closely following by the banking and finance industry, which was selected by 35 per cent of college leavers. Many respondents said they did not care which industry sector they entered - it seemed that any public or private sector company would suffice in terms of first job roles.


Employers must do more to engage with young people about the world of work, a recent survey of 14 and 15-year-olds has suggested.

The poll of about 1,800 pupils who are starting their GCSEs showed that more than half had not had an employer presentation at school.

Of those that had, 18 per cent felt they gained little from it and 12 per cent were put off by what they were shown, reports BBC News Online.

Recruitment advertising agency TMP Worldwide said that while it was easy to criticise schools and universities about skills shortages, employers could do more to communicate what sorts of skills were in demand.

"It seems clear that there is real enthusiasm and interest by students even at Year 10 stage for careers and employment information," said Neil Harrison, TMP's planning director. "However, it seems equally clear that neither employers nor teachers are communicating effectively with this age group."

The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) said employers do recognise they have a role to play and many companies provide work experience opportunities to school students.


Graduates in decline

The UK is facing a shortage of skilled IT professionals, following a sharp decline in the number of people deciding to study it, cautions a new report by Lancaster University Management School, the British Computer Society and Microsoft. Over the past five years, the number of graduates in IT has halved to 20,000 a year - far short of the 150,000 new entries needed by businesses.

Learning curve

Over 1.5 million young people are remaining in learning after leaving school, according to the latest figures from the Department of Education and Skills. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) attributes the rise of 2.7 per cent for 16-year-olds to the introduction of the Education Maintenance Allowance in 2004 and the effective local engagement strategies between local LSCs, schools, colleges, training providers and other partners. However, the proportion of 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) increased by one per cent to 11 per cent by the end of 2005. See for further information.

Student advice

If you are advising anybody about going to university, you might want to consider Palgrave Macmillan's The Student Life Handbook. The book contains information and practical guidance from finding accommodation to managing finances. Author, Christine Fanthome has included quotes from 160 students sharing their university experiences and useful checklists to help students settle in to university life. In addition, Fanthome has highlighted some key debates surrounding higher education, in particular tuition fees, rising student debt and the benefits of going to university.

Midlands on course

Coventry University is offering a new postgraduate diploma in career guidance, approved by the ICG as a recognised qualification in career guidance (QCG). The university was approached by ICG to deliver the qualification and has worked with local career guidance employers such as Connexions and its own career service to develop an innovative and relevant course. The university is unique in offering the programme in the Midlands.

Economy under threat?

Scotland's economy could soon be in serious danger as the number of young Scots entering higher education has fallen to its lowest point in almost a decade. The warning comes from Scottish Universities - the body that represents higher education institutions in Scotland, following official figures released by the Scottish Executive, which show that 46 per cent of school leavers enrolled on degree-level courses in 2004/5 - down 2.5 per cent on the previous year.

Market growth

Graduate vacancies are higher than any year since 1995, according to new research from the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters). The survey of 235 of the UK's leading employers reveals that graduate vacancies are up by 16.7 per cent on last year. More than half the respondents expect recruitment levels to hold firm until 2007. Graduate starting salaries also continue to rise to a median of £23,136 compared with £22,000 last year. "The results show that the graduate market is continuing to grow, which is great news for the Class of 2006," says Carl Gilleard, chief executive of AGR.

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