Careers and Social Mobility - The Cornerstones of our Future Success
Social mobility plays a crucial role in making sure everyone, regardless of their background, has an equal chance to succeed through a wide range of career opportunities.
UK businesses have committed to help tackle social mobility by working with schools and colleges to help prepare pupils for the world of work. This backing came after the Government launched its social mobility strategy, 'Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential', and its careers strategy, 'Making the most of everyone's skills and talents', in December 2017. But how effective will these strategies be? And how can they inform careers advice provision in the future?
What is proposed?
Collectively, the strategies propose several complementary measures.
The social mobility strategy outlines £800m of Government investment focused on pre-16 education, including the creation of free schools in areas with low levels of social mobility and a new £23 million 'future talent fund' to trial new approaches for high-attaining children from the least well-off communities.
The careers strategy sets out a series of actions that the DfE will undertake. These include:
- Schools enabling technical education/apprenticeship providers to talk to all pupils.
- Appointing a named Careers Leader to lead the careers programme in every school and college.
- Piloting new approaches to careers provision (e.g. engaging girls in STEM careers, understanding which careers activities work well in primary schools, and improving provision for the disadvantaged and vulnerable).
- Schools offering every young person seven encounters with employers - at least one each year from years 7 to 13 – some of which should be with STEM employers.
Removing barriers to social mobility
With clear areas of overlap across the strategies, the proposed changes aim to remove barriers to social mobility by:
- Providing a wide choice of post-16 routes with clear progression pathways
This increases options for all young people regardless of their circumstances. Ensuring they can access high-quality opportunities is essential to meeting employers’ current and future skills demands. As such, young people must be supported to navigate the evolving labour market; this includes understanding the gig economy and the benefits of meaningful work in some service sectors to build capacity.
- Raising career aspirations through high-quality careers advice
This will support young people to progress from education into employment. Some young people may be less likely to receive the right advice and guidance to unlock their potential (e.g. appropriate guidance on vocational training options from schools). Collectively, we must recognise that academic attainment is not the same as careers attainment, and that careers information, advice and guidance can be aspirational and open up the world of work for those who, for whatever reason, have not engaged in the classroom.
A shared responsibility
Having supported many young people throughout the UK and Ireland – and through a wide range of services within employment, skills and justice - Seetec knows that careers education and social mobility are integral to the foundations of a person’s career; even more so for young people experiencing disadvantage.
As such, we believe that the following will be essential to ensuring success:
- Join-up: Implementation of the Future Talent Fund should be undertaken in partnership with agencies such as the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure that high attainment, coupled with high-quality careers advice, results in high-quality outcomes.
- Ensure true equality of access: Young people with limited or no resource or capacity to use online services must be supported; and the support must be accessible to young people of all backgrounds to help to break down barriers, whether gender, cultural or class.
- Ensure tangible employer involvement: Employers must sell careers in their sectors and help to align careers information, advice and guidance with future skills shortages and changes in the labour market.
- Enable ongoing local and regional collaboration: The initiatives implemented and funding deployed should align with the plans and strategies of local and regional bodies, particularly given the devolution agenda; it will be essential to engage local safeguarding boards, Chambers of Commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
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