Mind the skills gap: Careers education ‘failing young people’

The vocational route can be more rewarding

Share

Forget the butcher, the baker and the candlestickmaker – the saying should have been rewritten long ago to conclude with the iPadmaker, says Neil Carberry, director of employment and skills at the Confederation of British Industry.

And, if you are thinking about the jobs market that will confront today’s 18-year-olds when they complete their working life in 50 years’ time, it’s anybody’s guess.

“If you’re 18 today, that means you will still be in the jobs market in 50 years and who knows what that jobs market will look like,” he added. “Some of the jobs that will be available even in 10 years’ time haven’t been invented yet.

“It’s certainly a case that progress will be linked to high-level skills – giving young people the skills that they can develop.”

Mr Carberry is critical of careers education – particularly in England – where the subject has been made the responsibility of schools with very little forward planning and few, if any, extra resources.

One of the problems is that schools are measured on their performance in GCSEs and A-levels and that tends to make them favour the university route for as many of their pupils as possible.

He remembers an employer recalling how one of his most promising apprentices had his application form torn up by his school to try to stop him from pursuing it. According to a recent survey for the Edge Foundation, more than one in four pupils had been told they were “too clever” to pursue vocational qualifications.

Part of the problem has been the standard of qualifications. The engineering diploma introduced by Labour may have impressed many – including Cambridge University – but, when the Coalition Government let the diplomas wither on the vine, a lot of dross died along with it.

Mr Carberry would like to see a VCAS operation set up to rival UCAS – the universities and colleges admissions service which lists every degree course offered at UK universities. A vocation admissions service giving details of everything on offer and what qualifications would be needed for which jobs would be of great benefit to the 50 per cent of young people who do not want to go down the university route.

It is not as if opting for an apprenticeship is necessarily condemning the individuals who choose it to a second-class career when it comes to the rewards.

“Someone who takes a level three STEM apprenticeship (a sub-degree level apprenticeship in one of the subjects key to the future of the economy – science, technology, engineering or maths) can earn more than in many degree level jobs because they are vital skills,” he said. “We should make clear to schools and young people what high quality the job is.”

The Confederation of British Industry has been buoyed by the reaction to its seminal report on education 18 months ago – which called on schools to produce “rounded and grounded” young people with communications and problem-solving skills and avoid becoming “exam factories”.

A consensus on this seems to be emerging across the political spectrum, Mr Carberry observed.

What was needed for effective careers education was the back-up materials giving details of what was on offer. “You cannot expect a teacher to have expert knowledge of all career opportunities,” he added.

It mattered little whether the information was available from one of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s regional commissioners or the sub-regional bodies expected to be recommended by former Education Secretary David Blunkett in a review of school structures ordered by the Labour party.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women-only train carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style