National Careers Week aims to get students to ask questions about their careers

80 universities and 400 further education colleges are taking part
  • @chloehamilton

What kind of careers guidance did you get at school? A selection of leaflets, a brief chat with the careers counsellor, or, like i editor Oliver Duff, a ten-minute survey telling you that you should be a Waste Treatment Plant Manager?

This week 1,700 secondary schools, 80 universities and 400 further education colleges will be taking part in National Careers Week, with the aim of introducing better quality careers advice into the school curriculum.

The initiative, which bills itself as a bridge between education and employment, was set up by Careersbox founder Nick Newman three years ago, after he became frustrated by the lack of careers resources available to young people.

"I set the campaign up because it needed doing. The Government weren't doing anything, careers advice was too disparate, and there was no clear guidance," he said. "In the last few years the cuts to the youth services have meant the demise of the Connexions service that used to help students plan their careers.

"Until we get careers education embedded within the curriculum and Ofsted testing schools on their careers education, we're always going to be relying on individuals going into schools to help."

In 2011, Mr Newman set up the Save Careers campaign on Twitter, which brought together careers professionals who were all committed to helping bring better advice to schools. It was out of this that National Careers Week was born.

The week encourages education providers to bring together students, local employers and advisers through careers events and activities. Throughout the week it is up to every school, academy, university and college taking part to offer advice and guidance to their students.

According to Mr Newman, at a time of high youth unemployment there has never been a greater need for careers guidance to be promoted and celebrated within education. "We need to start by looking at our skills shortage, and look at the ways in which we can solve this in the future by introducing students to the sectors that need help," he said.

However, National Careers Week isn't just aimed at students. The scheme hopes to inspire teachers too, by providing them with the tools they need to deliver worthwhile career advice. Many of the resources are digital.

"People thought the only quality guidance was face-to-face but now that the Government has pulled funding, face-to-face is too expensive," Mr Newman said. "It's all moved online and we're embracing social media and other online platforms. This method appeals to the younger generation, but also to the new generation of teachers who are open-minded and happy with using technology in the classroom."

Ultimately, Mr Newman hopes the week will motivate students to consider different careers. "The best thing is when you talk to students and they say 'I learned this', 'I learned that', 'I didn't know I could do that'. National Careers Week isn't necessarily about providing lots of answers, it's about encouraging students to ask the questions."