I’m Will Millard. I’m the Head of Engagement at the Centre for Education and Youth, the think and action tank, and the lead author of CfEY and Founders4Schools’ research into careers education. The Centre for Education and Youth was commissioned to undertake this research into the sequencing of careers education for the really important reason that there’s actually not a huge amount of evidence out there to tell teachers how they can do that.
I think the research highlights three things. Firstly, it shows in quite concrete terms how careers education can be sequenced, from the early years right up to the end of college and beyond. Secondly, it talks about the benefits of careers education when it’s high-quality. It talks about the extensive benefits to young people of receiving a careers education. And thirdly, it highlights the really important point that the young people who may benefit the most from careers education are actually the less likely to receive it, so specifically people from poorer backgrounds.
I think the first thing is trying to take a slightly more medium and longer term view of careers education. I think often it’s a bit of a bolt-on in schools, and that is sometimes when it’s less effective. So being able to look at a pupil’s journey through school and then actually plan strategically where they might get input from a variety of people– that can be really beneficial. So for example, in the early years, it looks at options like role play, so it might be about exploring careers and roles through play.
Later on, at secondary, it might be about hearing about lots of different sectors or about one sector, but in lots of detail from people doing different roles within it through carousel activities, so going into a hall with lots of tables, sitting down with lots of different people, and hearing what they have to say. So I think the report, as I say, first and foremost, gives teachers a really concrete set of ideas about how they can actually implement careers education in their schools. I think the key issues facing schools in terms of sequencing careers education are time, and prioritisation, and a third aspect being partnerships.
So the first two of those, time and prioritisation– we all know how busy teachers are, but I think thinking in advance about the sequencing of careers education is a way of overcoming that because it helps schools plan low effort and relatively easy to organise interventions, such as careers speakers coming in to talk to students. The partnerships and networks dimension is a really important point. So often careers education is contingent on individual teachers’ connections and networks, but actually, we know that these brokerage websites exist. We know that there are networking platforms to put schools in touch directly with employers. That’s a great thing. That can really save schools a lot of time.
When done right, careers education has a series of really powerful and important implications for young people. I think the first is that it can show them what they can be, so it shows them the options that are available to them, the possible pathways they might be interested in pursuing. And I think, particularly for much younger children, that helps to counteract some of the formation of stereotypes that we can see emerging at that early age. Secondly, it helps them develop career-relevant skills, but I think, and really importantly, those skills aren’t just relevant to their careers. They’re relevant to life, so skills like teamwork, communication, and so on.
And then thirdly, there are more specific career-related skills, like writing your CV and interview practice that a quality careers education can also give you. So I think the key barriers to implementing and sequencing careers education are time and prioritisation, but also partnerships. So teachers are really busy people. Planning careers education can just be one more thing on the to-do list that they don’t get to, so hopefully our research helps to show how it can be done in quite a straightforward way, for example, getting speakers in to speak to students about different career pathways. The partnerships point is also a really important dimension of this because often careers education can hinge on individual teachers’ relationships with employers.
So careers platforms, platforms that link schools and teachers with employers, can be a really powerful way of making careers education far more efficient for schools and a much easier thing to arrange.