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Biggest ever study of careers education shows career readiness rising and business benefitting from recruitment boost

04 Mar 2024

  • Study captures insight from more than 100,000 students, 4,500 schools, 340 employers and 1,100 business professionals.
  • Young people’s career readiness is rising – up 67% between years 7 and 13 (from 46% to 77%).
  • Business is benefitting – 86% say working with schools is encouraging young people to take up careers in their sector. 78% say it’s increasing job applications.
  • Disadvantage is being targeted – High quality careers education reduces a young person’s risk of being NEET by 8% - saving the Treasury £150 million a year.

Young people are now more ready for jobs, business is tackling skills gaps and the impact of disadvantage is being targeted as a consequence of careers education, according to a new report published today, at the start of National Careers Week.

The study, Careers Education 2022/23: Now & next, is from the Careers & Enterprise Company, the national body for careers education.

It is based on the biggest ever set of data on what is happening in careers education today, from more than 100,000 students, 4,500 secondary schools and colleges, 342 leading companies and 1,100 business professionals.

The findings are backed by a recent OECD study which found the vast majority of pupils in England (95%) are in schools that offer career guidance as part of the curriculum, stating, “the approach to career guidance in England was more structured than was typical internationally”.

The study comes nearly 10 years after the introduction of a new careers system founded on Careers Hubs, linking employers with education and working to the world-class standard for careers education, the Gatsby Benchmarks, which have been universally adopted by the education sector.

The change was due to widespread recognition the careers education system of the day was no longer fit for purpose. The evidence in this report shows young people and employers are benefiting from a reinvented system.

Ninety-two per cent of secondary schools and colleges are now in Careers Hubs. Schools and colleges in Hubs are outperforming those not in Hub by 88 per cent in the delivery of quality careers support to their students.

As a result, young people’s career readiness rises by 67 per cent during their time in school (up from 46% in Year 7 to 77% in Year 13). Understanding of apprenticeships doubles (up from 39% to 80% between Years 7 and 11).

By the time they are doing their GCSEs, four in five Year 11 students (80%) say they now know the skills employers are looking for and 83 per cent have a plan for their next step. 

Young people’s job choices are also being shaped by their careers experience and exposure to employers. Their interests shift from wanting to be pop stars and footballers towards those sectors with the greatest skills needs.

When they start secondary school, their top career choices are sports, creative, working with animals and beauty. By the time they are doing their GCSEs, their top choices are creative and media, healthcare, business and finance, law, engineering and construction.  

Modern careers education is also breaking down stereotypical ideas that certain jobs are only suitable girls or for boys. For example, girls with the highest career readiness are twice as likely to choose careers in areas like engineering.

Businesses are also reporting direct benefits from working with young people in education to help develop their skills and build awareness of jobs in their industry. For increasing numbers of businesses, recruitment now starts in schools in Year 7.

More than four in five say it’s encouraging young people to take up careers in their sector and helping them develop new talent pipelines (86% and 82% respectively). More than three quarters (78%) say it’s increasing job applications and 75 per cent say it’s boosting apprenticeships.

Modern careers education is helping target disadvantage. The report shows high-quality careers support is helping disadvantaged young people into more secure and sustained destinations after they leave school. This has the impact of reducing the risk of them becoming NEET by 8%.

The career readiness of disadvantaged students rises by two thirds (66%) during their time in school, from 45 per cent in Year 7 to 75 per cent in Year 13.

At the same time, there remains a consistent gap in careers readiness between them and their more affluent peers in each and every year. On average, this amounts to a 3 percentage point deficit in career readiness between free school meal and non-free school meal pupils across their seven years of secondary education, demonstrating more targeted work is needed to close the gap.

Nicky Morgan, Chair of the Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“After a decade of hard work by schools, colleges, their careers leaders and employers this survey of 100,000 students now definitely tells us that young people and employers are benefitting from the systemic reinvention of careers education. 

“Many of us who are older have long memories of poor careers experiences when at school. But things are now different for this generation.  

“The reinvented system has put employers at the heart of careers education so young people can see what the jobs of today and tomorrow are really all about and how what they’re learning in school or college can be used in the workplace, sparking their interest, developing their skills and broadening their horizons.

“There is always more to do so the challenge now is to keep the momentum going and continue to evolve as employer needs and skills demands change.”

Oli de Botton, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company said:

“A vision and model of modern careers education that is broad, structured and inclusive has taken hold. This is not yet the reality for every young person everywhere, but progress has been made and it’s a sound platform to build on.

“We have a clear pathway forward. The next steps involve including teachers and parents more closely in the careers conversation; getting employers involved early on with a focus on key skills, so recruitment starts in Year 7 and relentlessly targeting disadvantage to remove barriers to equity.

“In practice this means embedding careers in the day-to-day curriculum and reinventing work experience so it’s ongoing rather than a one off. In this way, careers will become more mainstream, not at the margins. Sustainable for the long term.

“Employers and educators can sometimes talk past each other but when they work together with purpose and support there are mutual benefits. Modern careers education is part of this, giving young people a direct line of sight into work and helping employers understand their future work force.  And when we get this right, we help make sure every young people can find their best next step.”

Careers Education 2022/23: Now & next

Our new report setting out the clearest picture of the careers education system to date, showing the growing evidence of progress in England.

Read the report

For more information contact:

Mark Hastings (Senior Communications Manager) 
T: 07725 845 493