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Careers guidance for young people in school has improved over the last two years, according to a large-scale survey of schools. The research points to the successful early establishment of a new cohort of senior ‘Careers Leaders’ with responsibility for driving a whole school approach towards careers support.

The survey of 750 Careers Leaders reveals that they feel positive about the future of careers provision and the impact they’re having on young people, and have the backing of their senior leadership teams.

Previous research from Education & Employers has shown high quality careers support and employer engagement has a positive impact on young people’s grades, employment prospects and future earnings.

In 2017, the Government’s Careers Strategy set an ambitious plan for every school in England to appoint a named Careers Leaders with ’the energy, commitment and backing from senior leadership’ to deliver a comprehensive careers programme. 

The research – carried out on behalf of The Gatsby Foundation and The Careers & Enterprise Company – represents the first comprehensive survey of Careers Leaders. It reveals they are overwhelmingly positive about the approach set out in the Careers Strategy and the outcomes for young people:

  • 88% say their role is having a positive impact on young peoples’ outcomes
  • 81% feel positive about the future of careers provision
  • 75% think careers provision has improved since the Careers Strategy

The Careers Strategy called on schools and Careers Leaders to work towards meeting all eight of the Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Careers Guidance – a set of standards based on international best practice.

The survey reveals that 94% of Careers Leaders said the Gatsby Benchmarks had helped to improve careers guidance. This follows findings published last year showing schools across the country improving against the Benchmarks.

Careers Leaders are a relatively new part of the school workforce, with two-thirds appointed within the last two school years. But the research finds that school leaders are backing the reforms and their focus on ensuring Careers Leaders are senior or have senior access in schools - 83% of Careers Leaders are either part of their school’s senior leadership team or report directly into senior leadership

The research also finds that Careers Leaders spend twice as much time on careers as ‘careers-coordinators’ did a decade ago, underlining the increased prioritisation of careers by schools.

Claudia Harris, Chief Executive of the Careers & Enterprise Company, said:

“According to this major survey across 750 schools, Careers leaders are overwhelmingly positive about the direction of careers support in schools. The significance of this lack of cynicism should not be underestimated. They value what they are doing and see the benefits for their students.

“The survey finds that Careers Leaders are in senior positions or report into the SLT, representing a marked shift in the profile of careers to central in school agendas. High quality careers and enterprise support is increasingly being used by schools as a core pillar to ensure excellent long-term outcomes for their students.

“We see it in the progress every day: across the country careers support is improving in schools, and particularly in the most disadvantaged communities. This is down to the commitment of Careers Leaders and the school leaders that back them.”

Sir John Holman, Senior Adviser to the Gatsby Foundation and author of the Good Career Guidance report, said:

“The pilot of the Gatsby Benchmarks in the North East of England showed us that the key success factor is having an effective Careers Leader, with access to the senior leadership of the school or college.

“It is very encouraging to see that schools are truly making this role a priority, and that those in post feel so confident about the future. This research gives valuable insight into how Careers Leaders can be best supported and enabled to do their job, which is critical to the future of every young person in the school.”

The survey was carried out by QRS market research on behalf of The Gatsby Foundation and The Careers & Enterprise Company. 750 Careers Leaders responded to the survey, and results were weighted to be representative of schools across the country.

For more information, read the full report.