Let’s get to work on a careers strategy to support learners

Equipping young people with the skills and knowledge they need to be ready for the workplace is a challenge and schools need to be sure that they are getting their part right.

Only half of the 18,000 employers in the Employer Perspectives Survey, published by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2017, said recruits coming from education were prepared for work. This was reiterated by respondents to a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) survey in 2018, which found that 8 out of 10 British school leavers lack the ‘essential business skills’ needed for work.

The report ‘Joint Dialogue: How are schools developing real employability skills?’, from Education and Employers, The Edge Foundation and National Education Union shows that young people face increasing expectations from employers that they are work ready as well as increasing competition for work from older, perhaps more qualified, workers. A growing number of employers now place significant value on the ability of workers to be personally effective in applying their knowledge and skills in new situations.

The research suggests that current government policy, such as the narrower curriculum and increased content and exam-focus of GCSEs and A Levels, are standing in the way of young people developing the skills necessary for working life. Nearly half (47%) of teachers believe that there are fewer opportunities to develop employability skills and competencies since the introduction of the reformed GCSEs and A levels, with only 31% of head teachers saying the new GCSEs are good preparation for the work of work.

The requirements for careers information, education advice and guidance aren’t specific in their content as to what skills learners should be expected to attain. However, it’s in the learners’ and prospective employers’ best interests if the school provides opportunities for them to develop these skills. So how can schools ensure that they’re helping learners to develop the transferable skills and qualities highly valued by employers, such as team working, communication and creativity?

Schools are obliged to fulfil their careers guidance duties and are recommended to follow the 8 Gatsby benchmarks. A rich and varied programme of learning is advised, to give learners a comprehensive overview of their possible next steps and where they can upskill themselves.

To give school leavers an edge when it comes to the competitive labour market, NCFE has a range of solutions for schools to ensure that they’re able to meet the benchmarks and the differing needs of learners and their preparedness for the world of work.  This includes high-quality blended learning resources, an online diagnostic tool to identify employability skills gaps, and qualifications with customisable units to help schools target the specific areas that they need to.

Find out more about our solutions for schools to support your careers education, information advice and guidance duties on our website.