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Careers advice is letting our young people down, report warns

Schools must embed careers advice and employability into the curriculum to help combat youth unemployment, according to a report published today by employment and skills firm Working Links.

The Finding a Future report has called for every school to have at least one employer on its board of governors to help move education and work closer together.

As the UK celebrates National Apprenticeship Week, youth unemployment stands at 974,000 and is recognised as one of the most pressing economic challenges.

Working Links interviewed unemployed young people, their parents and UK employers to understand how reforming careers services could improve young people's job prospects and tackle the UK's youth unemployment crisis.

It found that:

· Four in five (85%) young unemployed people feel they left school ill-equipped to find a job.

· Just 14% of young unemployed people said they were told about vocational options, including Apprenticeships, at school.

· Almost three quarters (72%) of parents feel schools do not prepare their children for work with 63% feeling education is focused too much on academic pathways.

· Over half the young unemployed people surveyed said they received careers advice less than once a year and only 9% received regular guidance.

Working Links also spoke to employers who expressed frustration at being unable to form closer links to schools and indicated that their local schools are not committed to engaging in meaningful relationships with schools.

The research found that employers are concerned that the focus on academic pathways discourages young people from exploring alternative options that might better enable them to secure employment in the future.

Stephen Evans, Working Links' employment and skills director, said: "Young people have been let down by careers advice services for too long. We need this to change and place employability at the heart of our education system, preparing young people for working life.

"The new obligation on schools to provide information, advice and guidance should act as a catalyst to recalibrate how schools and employers interact, with the support of local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and specialist employment services.

"There needs to be a commitment from both educators and policy makers to address the problems in careers services to young people. Up to date, local labour market intelligence should be fed into schools and the quality of careers advice must be measured to ensure we tackle this problem."