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Insight briefing: Student career readiness in 2022/23

01 Dec 2023

Hearing directly from students is essential to delivering effective career education outcomes.

The Future Skills Questionnaire (FSQ) was launched by The Careers & Enterprise Company as a feature of the Compass+ career management tool in September 2021, available to state-funded secondary schools, special schools and alternative provisions in England.

It is a student self-completion questionnaire that measures students’ career readiness at key transition points across secondary education. The data, aggregated across schools, provides national insight into student perceptions and how they compare according to stage of learning, student background and school characteristics. During the 2022/23 academic year, over 100,000 students from 574 institutions completed the Future Skills Questionnaire (FSQ), making it one of the most extensive surveys of its kind in the country. This is an opportunity to mobilise the collective voice of students and use their insights to point to areas of progress and to where more support is needed to drive positive careers outcomes. This insight briefing shares three key insights from this national dataset, amplifying students’ voices on their careers knowledge, skills and confidence.

Insight 1: Students feel more career ready as they progress through secondary education.

  • An increased awareness of changing labour market throughout secondary school strengthens students’ overall career readiness as they approach key points of transition.
  • From Year 7, students have ideas about their future careers, and these ideas mature over time becoming more grounded in their increasing knowledge and experience of career pathways. By Year 11, the most popular industries include creative and media, healthcare and construction, reflecting some projected growth sectors.
  • Differences occur in the career readiness of certain groups of students depending on background and characteristics. Female students and those receiving free school meals, and those with special needs had, on average, lower career readiness than their peers.

Insight 2: By Year 11, most young people understand traditional academic and vocational post-16 options and feel supported to make decisions.

  • Understanding of all post-16 pathways increases as students approach key points of transition. By Year 11, most students understood A Level and apprenticeship pathways - a significant rise from Year 7.
  • Understanding of T Levels is steadily growing. Starting from a low base in Year 7, students in Year 11 were four times more likely to report understanding the qualification.
  • By the time they reach Year 11, most students have considered their options and feel supported to make education and career choices.

Insight 3: There is more work to be done on supporting transition to the workplace and essential skills.

  • While most students rate their essential skills positively, there is variation between skills. By Year 11, students feel more confident in their ability to stay positive and creativity skills than in their leadership ability or listening skills.
  • Transition skills, such as the ability to perform at interview and submit strong applications, support students to navigate and succeed in their transition to work. Students are less confident about these skills.

Read the FSQ Insight Briefing

FSQ Insight Briefing 2022-2023

Over 100,000 students from 574 institutions completed the Future Skills
Questionnaire (FSQ) in 2022/23.

Read the briefing