Careers talks ‘boost future earnings’

Young people aged 14-15 from all backgrounds, could be earning an additional £2,000 by their mid-20s simply by more exposure to the world of work through career talks at school, new research has found.

The research was undertaken by Elnaz Kashefpakdel and Christian Percy and commissioned by the charity Education and Employers was published in the internationally peer reviewed Journal of Education and Work. It was launched today at a ‘speed career-networking’ event with 125 state school pupils and 25 volunteers from business at the London Stock Exchange.

The findings come from analysis of the famous British Cohort Study, which tracks individuals born in 1970 through their lifetime. It revealed that, between ages 14-15, for each career talk experienced with somebody from outside of the school, individuals’ wages at age 26 were higher by up to 1.6% per talk. Other factors that influence earnings, including economic status, academic ability, and demographics were taken into account.

The earnings boost is greatest where pupils had career talks at age 14 and found them ‘very helpful’ at the time. As an example, a pupil who experienced six such very helpful talks could expect an average boost in their salary of £2,000 (in today’s money) at age 26, if in full-time employment.

“Other well-known studies have highlighted the benefits of employer engagement, but never before have we had such a robust analysis drawing on such rich data,” said Dr Anthony Mann, Director of Policy and Research at the charity Education and Employers.  He said that “This demonstrates how much young people can benefit when employers and schools work together, and it doesn’t have to be onerous. Even an hour’s talk in a school can have an impact later in life. The more exposure young people have in the context of professional careers provision, the better .The advantage of the British Cohort Study is its reliable data. While a lot has changed since the 80s, the findings are likely still to be relevant.”

“The labour market is more complex today, and it’s even more of a challenge for young people to understand its breadth and what qualifications and skills will best prepare them for a successful career. Arguably, the value of career talks and employer insights would be even greater for pupils today.”

Paul Drechsler CBE, President of the CBI said: “This report makes clear the importance and impact of great careers insights and advice from people in the business world. Inspiring the Future is doing great work creating connections between what’s being taught in the classroom and where it can take you. To set every young person up for success requires the transformation of careers advice and support through an effective and well-resourced Careers and Enterprise Company. Business is playing their part and stands ready to do more and the CBI is committed to encouraging ever stronger business-education links to help all young people achieve their potential.”

Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD said: “Everyone would expect that career insights which children obtain early in school will change the way they engage with learning in related subjects, their view of their own future and their career aspirations. For the first time, it has now been possible to provide evidence for that, up to the point that early career education translates into measurable earnings advantages.”

Bishop Challoner Catholic Federation routinely invites speakers from business and industry to give talks about career options. Headteacher Nick Soar said: “Careers education has become the heart of what we do. We’ve brought in speakers from aerospace engineering, banking, medicine, drama, computing. The students love it. They ask endless questions and you can see it really brings home to them what they need to do to succeed in the workplace. The pupils value the time given to explore in a deeper way professionals who are using the knowledge they are learning within the classroom”   

Education and Employers runs the Inspiring the Future programme which links volunteers and schools. It enables teaching staff to find local volunteers, free of charge, to engaged with young people about the world of work.  For instance, its Inspiring Women event today at the London Stock Exchange welcomed more than 125 female students and 25 women working in business and enterprise for a speed career networking morning, to inspire girls to consider careers in these sector.

Read the research report:

BBC News story:

TES news story: