Businesses and teachers worry about pandemic’s impact on young people’s career opportunities – FE News

  • Almost eight in 10 teachers (79%) said their students were less ready for the world of work compared to previous years
  • More than half of companies (56%) fear that “lost learning” due to the pandemic will exacerbate skills shortages among pupils and students.
  • Teach First calls on government, business, charities and schools to work together to ensure every child leaves school ready to succeed in the world of work

New research has now highlighted great concern among businesses and educators about preparing young people for the world of work, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The poll is released by education charity Teach First at the launch of a new report, Rethinking Career Education: Investing in Our Country’s Future. The report makes a series of recommendations on how improving career education – and increasing business engagement with schools – can help improve opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The new research reveals that eight in 10 teachers (79%) think their students are less ready for the world of work compared to previous years, while more than half of teachers in schools with the most disadvantaged students (55% ) think the pandemic has negatively affected students’ perceptions of their career prospects.

Teach First also surveyed over 500 UK business HR decision makers and found that they shared this concern, with over half (56%) saying they were concerned that “lost learning” from the pandemic is exacerbating skills shortages among pupils and students. .

While grades are hugely important, research suggests other skills are also highly valued by employers.. When asked to select the top three skills they would consider most if hiring young people, they were more likely to choose broader soft skills (69%), literacy and numeracy (54% ) and digital and IT skills (48%). However, when asked to rate the readiness of current school, college and university leavers, 72% of companies said they were concerned about their level of soft skills. They also expressed concerns about the level of literacy and numeracy (68%) and digital and computer skills (52%).

In their new report, Teach First makes the case for a series of recommendations they believe could have a tangible impact on youth employability. Almost seven in 10 teachers (69%) agreed that better career education would reduce the number of young people who end up being classified as Not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Children receiving free school meals are currently twice as likely to be NEET at 18-24 than others (26% vs. 13%)[i].


To help solve this problem, Teach First believes that career education should begin at the elementary school level. Teachers agree, with seven in 10 primary school teachers (71%) believing their students’ career-related learning will make them aware of different career paths, and two-thirds (66%) saying it will increase their aspirations.

The DfE recently made a welcome commitment to a new careers scheme for primary schools in deprived areas in the recent Schools White Paper. In order to be as effective as possible, Teach First wants the DfE to work with industry leaders and publish a framework for effective professional learning in primary schools based on the Gatsby benchmarks and link it to a new fund which trains and supports primary school teachers working in disadvantaged areas.

Based on their own experience of successfully training Career Leaders in secondary schools, Teach First estimates it would cost £8.5m to support the worst 10% of primary schools with meal eligibility for pupils free school – which represents approximately 2,000 primary schools.

The report also calls for a series of other key recommendations, including:

  • Large employers offer co-ed work experience programs for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. While in-person work experience will remain crucial, online options offer employers the opportunity to diversify their recruitment and widen participation, particularly in areas outside of London.
  • Large employers should collect and publish basic socio-economic data to inform their school outreach and recruitment policies. This will ensure that disadvantaged students, who are much less likely to access internships through their family networks, have the same opportunities to gain vital professional knowledge and experience.
  • The Department of Education should use destination data to target additional transitional support at schools and colleges that serve disadvantaged communities.

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:

“Our country’s long-term prosperity depends on the next generation of young people. Career education is an essential part of this – it has a significant impact on a young person’s life. development at school, as well as their future employment opportunities. Schools do their best to prepare students for the world of work, but this is not their main objective. That’s why we believe it’s essential that employers participate in shaping the future of career education.

“For too long, getting career advice and high-quality work experience has been a postcode lottery – that needs to change. With concerns over the cost of living crisis and a potential recession later in the year, it is essential that we do all we can to give our young people the best possible chance of succeeding and thriving in the world of work”.

Simon Wareham, Head of Teach First Careers and Deputy Headmaster at Southmoor Academy, said:

“To accommodate all of our work, our career education team has doubled in size. As school budgets are always limited, I am working with our headteacher to accommodate existing roles and school funding. We also rely on business partners to provide us with free resources, travel assistance and activities. Fortunately, many employers are committed to supporting our students and helping them explore career options.

“Ultimately, all schools must be equipped to provide their students with a comprehensive education. We are passionate about ensuring that all of our students have the skills they need to be well-prepared to go out and excel around the world. »

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