Annex 2 |
Note of the Committee's seminar
with young people
7 November 2012
This note is a record of a seminar held by the Committee
with 23 young people. The purpose of the seminar was to gather
the views of young people on their experience of careers advice
and guidance and what they would hope and expect to get out of
careers advice and guidance activities. The young people who attended
were involved with a number of organisations representing young
people from different backgrounds. The organisations were British
Youth Council, Centrepoint Parliament, North Tyneside Youth Council,
The Prince's Trust, UK Youth and the Who Cares? Trust.
What is your experience of careers advice and
The discussion began by looking at how
careers advice and guidance was provided, and by whom. Most of
the young people felt that having a largely internet-based service
was far from ideal. They felt that young people were left "too
much to their own devices", and that input from teachers
and other professionals was of greater value.
The young people spoke about the absence
of careers advice and guidance in schools. Experiences varied
but were generally not positive. One student had not had any
careers advice. She had asked the teachers for information but
they either could not offer anything or tried to steer her down
a safe path. When she asked where else she could go, the school
suggested Connexions but she found that it had closed down. It
was confusing. Later, she also explained that she felt that advisers
believe "you can't fly that high"; they should always
expect the best and not tell you to be "more sensible".
The young people wanted a service that was more enthusiastic and
encouraging. Too often, young people reported, the focus of careers
advice sessions was on earning potential, or on themes and pathways
with which advisers themselves were most familiar.
Many agreed that if you want to do well and are motivated,
you will talk to your teachers and get help. There was less available
for non-academic students. There was a split between those who
knew what they wanted to do and those who didn't, and schools
had limited information for the latter. Many students were pushed
towards the traditional A level/VI form route and there was not
a lot of information about BTecs and other vocational courses.
More positively, one young person mentioned
that at her school, tutorial time was set aside every week for
careers education work. She had found this to be very effective;
it was regular, in bite-sized pieces and delivered by a teacher
who knew the young person.
Connexions was a "brand" that all the young
people were familiar with, although there was a strong view that
it tended to focus on personal issues and gave little attention
to careers advice and guidance.
Experiences of Connexions were varied: some reported
significant time spent with personal advisers, where others had
had just an hour of advice, in-school, or even "ten minutes
in Year 10". It was felt that the Connexions offer of a single
session was insufficient in itself and delivered only very basic
information. One young person described the careers service provided
by Connexions as "rubbish". A student who was just starting
GCSEs explained that Connexions came into the school and gave
one-to-one sessions but this was very basic, unspecific information
(for example, website links) and nothing to take them further.
After this one meeting, the young person was told to make an
appointment if they wanted to see an adviser again, but that proved
difficult to arrange.
Some of the young people had benefitted
from Connexions' wider advice, for example around personal and
family issues. These young people spoke more positively about
the service than others.
There was general agreement, though, that
improving the weaker Connexions services would have been preferable
to shutting down the entire organisation.
What sort of careers advice and guidance
do you want?
None of the young people thought that
schools currently provide sufficient careers guidance and advice.
It was agreed that careers education should be in the curriculum
and that steps should be taken to avoid the varying practice across
different schools and enhance the consistency of provision. Both
quality and quantity of careers advice and guidance were seen
There were differing views on whether careers guidance
should be provided by teachers. Some felt strongly that the advice
they received from teachers was very valuable because of the established
relationship with them. Others thought that outsiders were better
because they were more objective. Many young people agreed that
schools were the right place to provide advice because of the
knowledge they hold of the young person's interests, abilities
and ambitions. However, it was felt by some that teachers should
have more training to be able to provide higher quality guidance
It was agreed by all that impartiality and independence
was a key component that young people wanted. Face-to-face guidance
was also regarded as an essential part of any provision for all
young people. The most popular request was more face-to-face advice.
Telephone and website consultations were not enough because of
difficulties over access and cost. Face-to-face also allowed
for a better connection to be formed. The interview should be
with a careers person who can point you in the direction of jobs
and careers you would either be good at or interested in.
One young person spoke about his experience
of being given advice through an online programme, where information
was fed in and possible careers options were given. He found this
to be unhelpful as he was not interested in any of the careers
that the software had suggested. He compared this to a face-to-face
interview with a career counsellor the following year, which he
found to be very useful.
There was general agreement that navigating
the numerous websites was difficult and that it needed simplifying.
One young person, talking about their use of career websites,
said: " I am tech-savvy, but found it too much". Another
said that while the "web can be powerful, it needs to be
a processyoung people need interaction".
The whole group was invited to give a
view on the age at which careers work should begin. The majority
of the group agreed that years 7 and 8 were around the right time,
with a few settling on slightly earlier (year 6) and others thinking
that year 9 was most appropriate. It was felt that the system
should also be flexible for young people who might need advice
and guidance at different stages.
The young people were attracted by a suggestion
that there should be better co-ordination of careers advice, guidance,
and work experience into a curriculum package which included citizenship
and life skills, such as CV-writing. Current provision was seen
as inconsistent and patchy, and dependent on your own school or
college or local service provider. Building a package into the
curriculum could help resolve this, it was felt, as well as helping
to ensure equality for young people.
Work experience and work-related learning.
The general consensus was that work experience
was very valuable in teaching life lessons and skills. Some young
people argued that work experience's real value had been suggesting
careers they would not want to pursue, and that it could
serve as an incentive to work harder in school to gain qualifications
for a career they would rather pursue.
Placements sometimes seemed irrelevant
to individuals' own ambitions. A number of the young people who
had work experience in the past said that they had got "nothing
out of it". It was felt that too often young people were
"palmed off to retail" businesses and it was described
as "free labour" by some of the delegates.
Most of those present had had work experience while
at school. In a few cases it was arranged through family or organised
by the student themselves but for most it was through the school.
The best experience, where the school had arranged it well, involved
the students in year 11 receiving a list of local businesses and
then applying for places. Teachers checked up on the students
twice during the fortnight and the students also had booklets
to fill in (a common element). At the end the students received
It was suggested that organisations offering
work experience should receive some training on how to host young
people (and perhaps offer mentoring as part of the experience).
It was also felt strongly by most delegates that work experience
was more valuable when spread across a longer period of timeperhaps
a day per fortnightrather than being completed in a block.
The potential for workplaces to be 'accredited' for their work
experience placements was discussed, although young people suggested
this could actually deter some good firms which didn't want administrative
Knowledge of the labour market varied. Some felt
that they knew the types of jobs which were available to them.
Others pointed out that many students put off worrying about such
decisions until after A levels or after their degree.
The group also discussed the impact of youth unemployment,
agreeing that this was mainly a question of having the right skills.
One suggested that NEETs "don't know how to start, where
to start or what to do". Work-based learning would help
to develop skills in these cases.
When the views of employers on the employability
skills of young people were put to the group, the response was
that employers forgot what it was like to be young and looking
for a job. It was hard to get experience when you hadn't already