Trends in Careers Education

The Careers & Enterprise Company 

This report presents trends in careers education over the past two years. It is focused on areas relevant to current debates and where there has been substantial change since before the pandemic. The trends were identified from the findings of a national dataset of 3,893 secondary schools and colleges (78%
of all state-funded schools and colleges) and the careers programmes they delivered in the 2020/21 academic year.

Executive Summary 

This report seeks to draw out key trends in careers education in the 2020/21 academic year compared with two years previous (before the pandemic). It is based on Careers Leaders’ evaluation of careers provision in 3,893 state-funded schools and colleges and wider research published over the past year.

Key Trends

The primary data source for this report is drawn from a digital tool, Compass, used by Careers Leaders in England’s schools and colleges to measure careers provision across the eight Gatsby Benchmarks. Trends show that employers are showing greater appetite to get involved, careers leaders are becoming more powerful and young people are demanding more guidance to navigate the opportunities and challenges that await them. This context gives us a platform to work together to deliver greater impact of the six primary trends.

  1. Careers education became more prominent in the curriculum last year.
  2. Innovation helped young people to engage with employers despite the impact of the pandemic.
  3. There was information about apprenticeships in the education system, but there is work to do to convert interest to uptake.
  4. here was an increased focus on individuals and their context through personal guidance, links to the labour market and digital tools.
  5. Training and local collaboration led to increased progress.
  6. New evidence shows that improving careers provision leads to better outcomes for young people.

Conclusion by Dr Aveek Bhattacharya

In a context where careers provision funding remains constrained and inconsistent between different schools and areas, such evidence is potentially powerful. With fierce competition for public funds within education, let alone wider public services, demonstrating that improving careers services represents
a genuine investment with some positive return can only improve the chances of receiving needed resources.

As I say, achieving an initial positive destination merely scratches the surface of the potential value of careers services. We would hope (or even expect) that the greatest benefits are felt in the long term: helping people to achieve higher earnings, a smoother career trajectory and greater work and life satisfaction. These are tougher metrics on which to measure the impact of careers services, but they might offer fruitful avenues for future researchers to explore. At the very least, they are important to keep in mind to ensure we do not undercount the positive contribution of careers guidance.

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