Express & Star

'We should start earlier': Calls for careers advice to be given earlier in schools

Calls have been made to give schoolchildren earlier career advice to make sure they make the right decisions for their futures.


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Members of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee said young people needed to know what was out there for them at an earlier stage – particularly in new industries emerging in the region.

They also said ‘meaningful work experience’ was crucial for helping people map out the career path they truly want and not end up in jobs they hate.

Dr Fiona Aldridge, head of insight and intelligence in economic delivery, skills and communities, said they were developing an all-age careers strategy to help schools in this area.

Councillor Ian Kettle said: “Very often career advice is very late in the school experience.

“We should start earlier so people start to get ideas about what is out there and what adult life could be for them.

“I like the idea of not having career hubs at the end of school but within the last three years of the curriculum to give a wider experience of what is out there in the world of work for young people.”

Dr Aldridge said: “As part of the devolution deal, we’ve been given the responsibility to develop an all-age career strategy.

“The earlier we can help people think about their careers, the more options they have.

“It’s not that people necessarily know what they want to do early on, but they rule things out earlier on.

“The more exposure we can give them to a range of careers – and the range of careers within the region is really changing – is really important.”

She added the authority works closely with schools, putting on a range of activities to help with career advice.

Committee vice chair Councillor Vera Waters said in Walsall, schools were offering children in Year 9 the opportunity of doing work experience rather than waiting until when they are in later years.

She said: “I think it’s a good idea because when you are at that age, it’s a long decision on what your career path is going to be and if they do it early enough, it gives them time to do it instead of being put on the spot at the last minute.”

Dr Aldridge said: “There is really clear evidence that meaningful work experience is one of the most powerful things you can do around careers.

“There is a set of benchmarks that identify what good careers look like and our schools across the region are asked to sign up to those.

“There is some really great practice but what we really need to make sure is that there is a consistent offer for young people across the region.

“We need to get more employers involved because you can do so much through a school but unless there is some good quality work experience offered through all of our employers then they will be difficult to source – particularly in some of those new and innovative industries.”