YNCB member Laurence Griffin argues that careers advice needs an overhaul.
I found the route into the world of work to be a tough experience and something that had a profound impact on my mental health. This negative effect could have been avoided if I had simply received a better standard of careers advice.
That’s why, since leaving full-time education in 2013, I have campaigned for better careers guidance for young people.
The job market for young people today is notoriously competitive; gone are the days where you can walk into a job for life. Employers now demand that you demonstrate the skills, experience and passion for a role through rigorous assessments. Whilst this is fair enough, unfortunately the education system has failed to keep up with these demands leaving young people feeling intimidated by these high expectations and powerless to do anything about it.
I was first introduced to careers advice at the age of 14, through the former Connexions service which in my case was within the school itself. I recall my mother finding this rather inappropriate and commenting ‘how can you possibly expect a 14-year-old to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives?’
As part of my - very limited - careers advice, I was advised to do an A-level in ICT following the rule that ‘you do ICT now and you like computers, therefore you should have a career in ICT’. I believe that what should have happened for me at age 14, was for the careers advice to take a more holistic approach and focus on me as an individual and the subjects that I was really interested in rather than the provide generic advice based on nothing more than the GCSE subjects that I was doing well at.
I believe that employers should engage far more in schools, colleges and universities to offer young people advice and guidance on their future careers. Whilst graduate fairs, Prospects and regional careers advice services are adequate, young people also need real guidance at a local level, especially in terms of social mobility in rural areas or areas of deprivation.
If the Government wants to curb youth unemployment, they have to equip young people with the work-ready skills in order to maximize productivity within both the education system and in finding their first job.