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Young people 'significantly overlooked' in their transition to work

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Young people considering their options are often “presented with gobbledygook”, says baroness Jean Corston

The majority of young people are significantly overlooked by the education system in their transition to work, according to a report released by the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility.

Overlooked and left behind: improving the transition from school to work for the majority of young people found a significant difference in investment in the education of young people depending on the route they choose after school.

There was found to be about a £6,000 difference in funding per person each year between those who study higher education courses at university, and those who study further education courses at colleges.

The authors of the report stated that while it is important that young people take qualifications that lead to good quality jobs, the evidence showed vocational routes to work are a source of confusion, lack consistency and inhibit social mobility.

Chair of the committee, Jean Corston said that a young person considering their options for further education or employment is “presented with gobbledygook".

“It is totally unclear to them how they can get the skills needed for a successful career,” she said. “It is also unclear to the people in their lives [who are] giving them advice and support in making these crucial decisions.

"We have found that without being taught life skills, given the right support, [or] access to work experience and robust, independent careers advice, we are in danger of trapping these young people in low-skilled, low-paid work, with little chance of a rewarding career.”

Kirstie Donnelly, managing director for City & Guilds, told HR magazine that the Lords committee is right to say there has been a consistent failure to prepare young people for the workplace. “How many more parliamentary inquiries and reports will there be before politicians wake up to the problem?” she asked. “If we want to see a change we need to vastly improve careers advice in schools.

“This means using labour market information and up-to-date data on skills gaps to shape the advice given to young people. In recent research we found a strong bias towards university remains among 14- to 19-year-olds, even though experts tell us that the pool of graduate jobs is shrinking."

She added that careers advice in schools needs to be improved. “While apprenticeships are a brilliant option, they’re just one of several routes into work that young people can take. If we don’t improve careers advice and involve employers at an earlier stage in education we will fail a generation of young people. They will continue to be underprepared for employment and the country as a whole will lose out,” she said.