Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Half of 16–18-Year-Olds Suffering from a Lack of Useful Career Advice

Joint research from Totaljobs and Career Ready finds that upcoming school leavers are unsatisfied with the level of career advice they receive at school, with guidance largely focused on university.

  • Overwhelming majority (89%) of 16-18 year olds believe that Covid has had a negative impact on the career prospects of young people.
  • Despite being seen as an excellent way to learn and gain financial independence, only 17% of school-leavers are considering apprenticeships, vs 61% who are planning on going to university.
  • 58% of businesses are facing a skills gap within their organisation, with a further 54% stating that it’s become increasingly harder to hire entry level talent within the past two years.

Half (48%) of 16-18 year olds in the UK believe they are receiving a lack of career advice at school, joint research from Totaljobs and Career Ready has revealed.

The research found that over two-thirds (67%) of 16–18-year-olds said the career advice at their school or college is very geared towards university, with 58% stating that there is little information out there about alternatives.     

The research indicates that this is an issue not just limited to schools. 50% of parents said they don’t feel equipped or knowledgeable enough to advise their child about apprenticeships, with 43% saying the same about university. A further 48% say they feel overwhelmed when considering their child’s future options.

Covid and Cost-of-Living Impacting Career Decisions

This lack of career advice is set against the backdrop of career uncertainty; the research found that half (50%) of 16-18-year-olds are not confident they will secure a job in their desired field because of the impact of covid and rising cost of living. A further 24% believe that university is not an option for them because of associated costs.

An overwhelming majority of 16–18-year-olds believe that Covid has had a negative impact on young people for the following reasons: learning opportunities (91%), work experience placements (91%), academic achievements (89%), earning potential (84%), career prospects (83%) and apprenticeship opportunities (80%).

Benefits of Apprenticeships

When asked about alternative routes into employment, 57% of 16-18-year olds said that apprenticeships are an excellent way to learn, 41% believe it lets people try out a career before you commit to it fully. A further 40% believe apprenticeships lead to financial independence earlier than other routes into work.

Despite this, just 10% of 16-18 year olds are considering a degree apprenticeship once they leave school, with just 7% considering another type of apprenticeship. 35% went on to say that apprenticeships aren’t promoted as much as university – further highlighting a lack of diverse career advice.

Diversifying Routes for Entry Level Talent

The research found that 58% of businesses are facing a skills gap within their organisation, with a further 54% stating that it’s become increasingly harder to hire entry level talent within the past two years.

Nine in ten businesses agree that offering grad schemes and apprenticeships helps to increase diversity in the workplace, rising to 97% of those working in large businesses.

The research revealed 44% of businesses currently offer apprenticeships; 28% offering degree apprenticeships, and 25% offering another apprenticeship level. However, of those that offer these schemes, 46% said that apprenticeships are more likely to be offered to existing staff, with a fifth (19%) mentioning all apprenticeship vacancies go this way. This is because it is easier to fill skills gaps by training up experienced staff rather than investing in less-experienced hires (66%), the desire to offer an attractive training package to existing staff (45%) and it being easier and less time consuming to fill these roles in house (37%).

When looking at other alternative routes into employment currently offered by businesses; 35% offer paid work experience (one month or less), 31% offer paid internships lasting more than a month, 26% offer school-leaver schemes and 19% offer placements, but without pay or expenses.

Looking ahead to the next two years, 20% are looking to introduce a degree apprenticeship, 16% want to introduce another apprenticeship level for the first time, and  20% plan on offering paid work experience placements.

Advice for Businesses

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs Group said: “It’s no secret that businesses continue to face skills shortages right now; a trend that shows no signs of dissipating any time soon. At the same time, young people overwhelmingly feel that their career aspirations have had to change in response to the current climate. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the confidence of young people in this country, and the cost-of-living crisis means that many are having to make key decisions about their financial futures at a much younger age– or have less opportunities open to them in the first place.”

“It’s clear that businesses must diversify just how they attract entry level talent – be that through offering more apprenticeships, paid work experience placements or school leaver schemes. The research shows that the interest is there, but more work needs to be done to not only accelerate this but advertise and attract talent to these schemes.”

For this research Totaljobs partnered with Career Ready, a UK-wide social mobility charity that links schools and colleges with employers to help prepare young people for the world of work. Commenting on the findings, Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, CEO of Career Ready said:

“Covid and the cost-of-living crisis has hit young people hard, and without proper investment we risk a generation of lost talent in the workplace, especially young people from underrepresented backgrounds.” Added

One of the most effective ways to change this is for employers to invest in young talent via paid internships and career mentoring. We urge more businesses to join us in helping young people to launch their careers and unlock their skills.”