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Careers advice from employers boosts pupil job expectations and prospects

Young people find direct contact with employers the most useful source of careers information and feel more confident of finding a job as a result, according to a survey of 1,855 students who attend University Technical Colleges (UTCs) published today (20 July 2016).

The survey was commissioned by the charity Baker Dearing Educational Trust, which supports and promotes UTCs. It found that the majority of students felt talks by employers, visits to workplaces and work experience were most helpful in helping them plan their future careers (91 per cent, 90 per cent and 91 per cent respectively).

Furthermore, 86 per cent of those surveyed said they were confident of getting a job suited to their skills when they finished their studies. This supports research by the Institute for Employment Studies which shows that young people who attend more careers talks by employers are more confident about their future, make more successful transitions from secondary schooling into employment, apprenticeships or higher education, and even earn higher salaries 10 years into their career compared with their peers.[1]

Ashley Freeman is 18 years old and from Atherstone near Birmingham. He is a student at Aston University Engineering Academy where he has been studying A-levels in maths and physics and a BTEC diploma in engineering. Ashley was planning to go to university to study engineering, which he is passionate about, but a careers talk from a representative of the Royal Navy about a new advanced apprenticeship changed his mind. 

‘The plan was always to have a career in engineering and join the Navy so going to university was a means to an end. The careers talk made me think again. Instead of spending three years at university at huge cost, I could start at a higher level, have more managerial responsibility, use the engineering skills I already have and earn a salary.’

Captain Andy Cree heads up the new Royal Navy Marine Engineering Advanced Apprenticeship scheme for UTC students. He says:

‘From an employer’s point of view it pays dividends to build a good relationship with a UTC, work with them on projects, give talks and offer workplace visits and experience. We see those crucial workplace skills like problem solving, teamwork and good communication embedded in the curricula of the UTCs we work with. It gives students a head start on others and we have the opportunity to recruit the best talent.’

UTCs are state schools which offer 14-19 year olds the opportunity to study technical subjects, such as engineering or design technology, alongside the core curriculum. Because they are sponsored by local employers, they have strong relationships with those employers and offer opportunities to work on employer led projects, visit workplaces and undertake work experience.

There is mounting evidence of the benefit of giving students a better understanding of the relevance of everyday school work to employment.

Rosa Marvell, Research Fellow at the Institute of Employment Studies, said:

‘The opportunity for young people to meet employers during their education or training is crucially important, as it can help them to make more effective labour market transitions. Meeting industry role models allows students to discover lesser-known occupations, workplaces and career trajectories that they may not have otherwise considered. Just as importantly, it gives them the tools and experiences to decide what options are not right for them. Our research[2] indicates that this exposure helps young people to develop a better understanding of the world of work and the expectations of employers. This supports them to expand the skills and confidence they need to be ‘work ready’ when they’ve finished their studies, and succeed in employment. Research evidence [3] also suggests that this can translate into higher earning capacity further on in their careers.’

Sponsors of the Greater Peterborough UTC are an integral part of the learning experience for students from offering work experience, industry exposure and mentoring to a guaranteed job interview upon completion of study. Additionally all sponsors and partners working with the UTC liaise closely with UTC staff to contextualise the teaching and learning with regard to industry workplace practices and all have set real-world challenges for students to undertake as their assessment. Find out more about our sponsors here.