How Can We Successfully Prepare All Young People for the Future of Work?

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The Department for Education published statutory guidance for schools on preparing young people for the world of work. The ‘Making the Most of Everyone’s Skills and Talents’ paper sets out a long term plan to build a world class careers system that will help young people choose the career that is right for them. The strategy encourages schools to use the Gatsby Benchmarks to develop and improve their career provision. The Gatsby Benchmarks are not a statutory framework but by adopting them, schools can be confident that they are fulfilling their legal duties. The benchmarks were created by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation by bringing together the best national and international research to look at what practical actions could improve career guidance in England.

And it seems this DFE intervention is urgently required. A recent Guardian article published the results of a survey of 600 schools by The Careers and Enterprise company - The State of the Nation 2017 which asked schools to demonstrate what they were doing to deliver the Gatsby benchmarks.

More than 20% of the schools surveyed were not achieving any of the benchmarks and only 54.5% of schools are offering most of their students a meaningful experience of the workplace by the end of year 11.

The DFE strategy is a welcome intervention, however a similar strategy has been in place in Scotland for several years and Scottish schools [ like UK universities] must report on the destination of all their pupils when they leave school, something not yet in place in England.

Working with both employers and schools I recognise that there are difficulties for both in achieving the benchmarks and fulfilling the government strategy. What I find most concerning about both is that the language used is already out of date. To talk about careers as though a student would choose one and then pursue it for the rest of their working lives is misleading young people. Young people entering the workplace today are likely to have a fluid and flexible career path which will change in response to life changes such as having a family or returning to study. Work patterns are becoming increasingly flexible as is the place of work which is as likely to be in the home as it is in an office space. Continued advances in artificial intelligence will remove some jobs altogether and require those in work to be lifelong learners to remain employable.

The World Economic Forum has also highlighted the need for young people to leave education with the ability to be a lifelong learner and our recent CIC Innovation Forum on the Future of Work also highlighted such skills and attitudes required for the future. EY shared the skills set they feel are important for the future – skills such as collaboration, complex problem solving, a technology mindset and creativity are critical, as are attributes such as self – reliance, self- development and self-promotion. Schools would say that there is little scope to embed these in a prescribed curriculum that is focussed on exam results and pupil attainment.

Creating Inclusive Cultures Junior Board aims to bring young people, schools and businesses together. Piloted in 2017, the Junior Board programme took place over a three month period and enabled those involved to gain valuable practical skills as well as experiencing different work places and organisations. Employers gained feedback on how they can improve their recruitment processes and, by involving junior employees, give students the opportunity to talk openly and honestly about their expectations, and to hear first-hand from people who are not too much older than themselves about how to get into the workplace and what it is like.

Schools and businesses in Leeds will once again be working together when we launch our 2018 Junior Board in National Apprenticeships Week [March 5th – 9th] at Direct Line. CIC partners taking part this year include; EY and Yorkshire Building Society and three inner city schools in Leeds, Roundhay School, Carr Manor Community School and Cockburn School.

Importantly, the Junior Board programme also enables schools to demonstrate how they are achieving one of the key Gatsby benchmarks, ‘Encounters with employers and employees’.

Fiona Triller, Programme Director. Creating Inclusive Cultures

For more information on the Junior Board programme or getting involved as a CIC Partner, please contact Fiona