• Future careers of young at risk as university becomes ‘gamble’, research warns

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  • 15 Jan 2016
  • Comments 6 comments

Less than a third of roles expected to be graduate jobs by 2022

Young people are putting their future careers at risk because they don’t understand the types of jobs that are available across the UK, a report from City and Guilds has warned.

Demand for full-time undergraduate places at UK universities rose by 2 per cent in 2015, despite research suggesting that less than a third of roles will be available to graduates by the time they enter the jobs market.

According to the ‘Great Expectations’ report, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of young people plan to go to university, despite a third of them not knowing what they would study.

Just 19 per cent of the 3,000 14-19 year olds surveyed had considered alternative routes to work, including apprenticeships or employment schemes.

Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City and Guilds, said with the average debt on leaving university now standing at £44,000, many young people were staking a lot on a “far from certain outcome”.

“Worringly, the research showed a real lack of understanding of the types of jobs that will be available, so we’re likely to see many people chasing a few jobs whilst other roles go unfilled,” she said.

“It’s vitally important that we start giving young people better careers advice and access to employers so that they have all the information they need to make informed choices about their futures.”

According to figures from the CIPD, a significant over-supply of young people joining the labour market from university had led to 58 per cent of graduates landing in non-graduate roles.

The City and Guilds report suggested that a single-minded focus on university was in part down to poor quality careers advice given to young people about the workplace.

Rather than giving careers advice based on real local labour market intelligence showing the jobs that will be available to them, 14-19 year olds are being exposed to a narrow range of careers, with a one-size-fits-all education route to get there, it said.

Andy Durman, managing director of economic modelers EMSI, who contributed to the report, called for a new model for careers advice in the UK.

“Instead of focusing on a young person’s likes and dislikes and suggesting a suitable career match, we believe a better model would match young people and their skills to relevant careers that do actually exist in their local or regional economy,” he said.

“Only by equipping careers advisors with up-to-date local labour market information can we hope to give young people realistic advice that may actually help them to get a job.”

Campaigners have suggested that greater careers advice and information on the local labour market should be extended to teachers, parents, and guardians who often play a big role in influencing young people’s career decisions.

Donnelly added: “University can lead to a fantastically rewarding career, but it’s important that young people, parents and teachers begin to recognise that it’s not the only route.”

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Comments (6)
  • I concur with the comments above and specifically cf Emma's comment about careers 'advice'. I hold multiple qualifications in addition to HR including worthless level 6 certification in careers guidance. I was appalled at how out of date career 'theories' are and how, in real life, it is still a matter of 'accident' and who you know that differentiates those who enter sound career routes and those (the majority) who don't.

  • The mismatch between supply and demand between suitable jobs and an expanded graduate population was predicted way back during the the Blair years when the government set targest for a university education for c.50% of school leavers. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly) this prediction now seems to be proved correct: the ideal of the creation of a UK economy driven by knowledge workers does not seem to have kept pace with the subsequent production of university graduates who may have good theoretical knowledge but many bring the less practical occupational skills that employers need. It seemed like a bad idea then to prioritise HE learning over vocational training in the UK and judging by the City & Guilds report, it seems worse than a bad idea for the new generation of graduates saddled with unthinkable debt levels and few genuine opportunities.

  • This is such an important report. Many youngsters still believe that University is the only route to success. There are excellent apprenticeships and training schemes being offered by great companies and the competition for places is considerably less than the graduate schemes. A number are offering paid for degrees as part of the scheme. The governments website on apprenticeships is good, but more needs to be done to help and educate parents and teachers. How about providing all schools and post 16 colleges with a relevant page on 'future' opportunities to be accessed through their website?

  • As an employer (SME), I am also sorry to say that the calibre of graduates is generally poor. They often have a sense of personal ability which isn't matched by actual capability. I would far rather employ a school-leaver as they usually have much better aptitude and attitude.

  • I believe there are others options to university and will encourage my children to seek out other career routes rather than burden themselves with incredible debt and doubt around whether they are able to secure a job with that qualification. I would like to see employers offer more on the job training with financial support to study a relevant qualification in all industries.

  • I currently am going through the GCSE with my daughter and I am appalled at the careers advice. If you aren't doing A-levels and planning university you are left with some pretty narrow, uninformed options.

    I would happily participate in any initiative to change how young people are advised and informed to think about future work and careers.