Wednesday, 13 April 2016


"The transition from school into work is a vital point in the lives of young people. Making a successful transition through a high quality and valued pathway can mean a successful career. Becoming trapped in poor quality and under-valued alternatives can mean a lifetime of poverty."
The report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility "Overlooked and left behind; improving the transition from school to work for the majority of young people" is essential reading.

The report focuses on how to ensure that all young people are offered a high quality career path after they leave school. The Select Committee found that the current policy structure means a large number of young people do not have good options, and are not supported to make a choice which works for them and is successful. Employers say they look for more than just qualifications in their recruits. They want their employees to arrive with the skills to succeed in the workplace: communication, team working, resilience, and self-management. Many of these skills can only really be gained through experience of work, either through work placements, or once in employment. For young people who do not have access to work-based training, the education system can go some way towards teaching these skills. However, Life Skills are not embedded in an effective way alongside or within the curriculum, and young people leave the education system insufficiently prepared for adulthood and the world of work. The preparation of all young people for adult life and success in the workplace, however they reach it, needs to be seen as an important pillar of the education system. An increased role for employers is fundamental to improving school to work transitions and employers need an easier way to work with schools and colleges. Employers and schools need to be supported to work together to meet the needs of young people who do not follow an academic route to work. 

  • Students leave the educational system without the skills necessary for work and life 
  • Existing recruitment practices hinder upward mobility 
  • Make alternative qualifications system coherent, accessible and business-friendly 
  • Reduce unfairness between academic and vocational routes to work, particularly in funding 
  • Ensure apprenticeships remain high-quality 
  • Reduce inequality between academic and vocational routes to work 
  • Improve careers guidance and advice for young people 
  • Work experience is essential. 
  • Make transitions work for those in the middle 
  • Preparation for the work place needs to begin as early as possible. 
  • Increase market transparency with destinations data for schools and colleges 
  • Increase employment involvement with schools in the transition to work 

Develop a clearer policy framework and a more effective delivery mechanism. The policy should set out a framework for school to work transitions from age 14 to age 19 and over. 
The framework should establish:
(a) Clearer routes to good-quality work for those in the middle, brought about by local collaboration, to enable:
(i) vocational routes to work which are robust and high quality, do not close down future opportunities, and lead to worthwhile destinations. The work of the Sainsbury led review should contribute to this.
(ii) meaningful experiences of work, organised between the student, the school and a local employer, including work placements and work-based training. Any work experiences undertaken must have a clear aim and objective to prepare young people for work and life.
(b) A new gold standard in independent careers advice and guidance, supported by a robust evidence base and drawing on existing expertise, which moves responsibility away from schools and colleges (which would require legislative change) in order to ensure that students are given independent advice about the different routes and qualifications available, to include:
(i) independent, face-to-face, careers advice, which provides good quality, informed advice on more than just academic routes, so that individuals are able to make decisions based on sound knowledge of what is available.
(ii) a single access point for all information on vocational options, including the labour market returns on qualifications.
(c) Improved careers education in schools, to empower young people to make good choices for themselves, to include:
(i) information on labour market returns, which would include information about the financial prospects of different options, to inform and motivate young people.
(ii) data on local labour markets to inform the teaching of Life Skills, skills for life, and careers education.

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