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Teenagers across the country are unfamiliar with a majority of well-paid jobs

Careers advice postcode lottery impacts futures of millions of UK teens

Over a million UK teens are awaiting their GCSE results, unaware that they are facing a ‘careers advice postcode lottery’ according to research into their career aspirations published today by leaders in skills development, City & Guilds.

The survey of more than 3,000 UK 14-19 year olds revealed that on average, British youngsters are aware of less than one in five of the 369 different occupations listed by the Government. Teenagers across the country were unfamiliar with a majority of well-paid roles including jobs such as finance director, flight engineer or IT manager, raising concerns that their career prospects will be impacted and that employers will struggle to find the skilled employees they need.

The research revealed that there are significant disparities across the UK – Welsh teens knew of just 15% of available jobs, compared to 25% in the South East. Young Londoners reported that they were aware of the largest number of jobs than teens in any other UK city, unsurprising considering they stated that they were more likely to receive advice from a careers advisor, know someone who works in their chosen industry, and more likely to have done a work placement or work shadowing than young people living in other cities.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, Managing Director, City & Guilds said:

“The Government has identified that a lack of careers advice was affecting the futures of millions of the UK’s young people and created the Careers and Enterprise Company in response. Whilst that has gone some way to addressing the problem, it’s clear from our findings that much more needs to be done to give every young person in the UK the same advantages – whether they are living in London or Leeds.

“We are calling on Government to create a holistic new national careers advice model that provides young people across the UK with the information they need to match their talents, hopes and dreams with the reality of the jobs market. We can do this by giving everyone access to employers in schools, up to date labour market information so they know what skills are in demand from employers and finally destinations data detailing whether past students ended up in the career of their choice so that young people are able to make truly informed choices about their education.”

The research revealed that access to careers advice across the nation is far too varied, with teens in some regions relying on the media for information, while others benefited from employer visits to their schools. Many still rely on parents for information, potentially severely limiting the number of jobs they are exposed to and hampering chances of social mobility for children from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

Salary expectations were also considerably lower outside of the capital. Young people from Wales believed they would take home almost £9,000 less compared with those from London, whilst some of this mismatch will be because salaries are generally larger in the capital, it also suggests that young people outside of London and the South East have had less exposure to the range of lucrative job opportunities they might be able to access if only they knew about them.

The findings showed that young people across the UK have a skewed view of the jobs that will be available to them in the future that is often dictated by the area they live in and the limited number of careers they have been exposed to. In the North East, for example, there are more than six times (664%) the number of young people wanting a job in metal work production than the number of jobs predicted to be available. Whilst in Liverpool, there are 20 would-be psychologists for every one job role and over in Birmingham six times too many (608%) young people wanted to work as a computer programmer.

The data makes clear that the opportunities to learn about different careers are not consistent across the country. In Liverpool, for example young people are most likely to get their information from someone coming in to talk to them at school or from visiting a business with their school. In Manchester, young people are least likely to hear of a career from work experience, while in Newcastle it is least likely to come from a careers adviser. Londoners are most likely to have benefited from work shadowing meaning those living in the capital could be getting their foot in the door before their peers elsewhere in the country.

City & Guilds worked with economic modellers Emsi to map young people’s career aspirations to the jobs forecast to be available in 2022.

Rob Slane, Head of Marketing – Emsi said:

“There were two very striking things about the occupations that were chosen by 14-19 year-olds in the survey. The first is that the oversubscribed occupations were the obvious jobs such as doctors, journalists, and computer programmers that most young people would be aware of. The second trend was that there were many well paid occupations that virtually nobody chose, such as property, housing and estate managers, and marketing. It is this mismatch between aspirations and reality that is the basic cause of the skills gap.

“The solution is to give young people better information about the state of their local and regional labour market, including which positions are likely to be available in their area over the next few years, salary details, and which occupations are most similar to their aspirations, but where there are more likely to be jobs available. Put this information into the hands of young people, and you will start to see the skills gap close.”

Laura-Jane Rawlings, Managing Director – Youth Employment UK said:

“The transition from education into employment is still one of the biggest challenges facing young people. Without a clear understanding of the local and national opportunities available, the skills and experience employers are looking for young people will continue to struggle to move into sustainable job roles. The world of work is hugely exciting and the new opportunities for apprenticeships make this even more so, but only if young people are made aware of what is available to them.”

Andy Smyth, Development Manager Vocational Learning – TUI UK and Ireland said:

“Our business is focussed on attracting young talent who work in all areas of our organisation from retail assistants through to engineers – they really are the life-blood of our organisation. It’s a real shame to see that this research shows young people across the country simply aren’t being made aware of these kinds of careers which are well-paid, interesting and offer lots of opportunity for career progression. We would love to see a more integrated careers service in the UK with input from employers like TUI to spread the message to the next generation.”

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