Careers advice that counts
Making Education Work is a new report exploring how the UK can give its young people the skills they need to thrive in the workplace. The publication follows a six-month review of England's education system by an independent advisory group, made up of prominent business leaders and chaired by an academic, Professor Sir Roy Anderson. Steve Holliday, National Grid’s Chief Executive Officer and a member of the group, explains why one of its recommendations – better careers advice for young people – is so crucial to closing the skills gap.
Careers advice that counts
“Good careers advice is something that’s been sadly relegated to casual conversations and accidental discovery.”
Steve Holliday, National Grid’s Chief Executive Officer
2,000 pupils from schools across the Midlands will take part in the Careers Lab pilot
Source: National Grid
It’s been a privilege to be involved in Making Education Work. Together with my colleague Tony Moloney, I’ve been working with leading figures from the fields of education and business to discover new ways of equipping schoolchildren with the skills to succeed in employment.
As chief executive of a global energy business, which is also a major UK employer, I know the magnitude of the challenge we face. Being part of the advisory group was a great opportunity to listen to different perspectives, get a broader sense of the challenge before us, define the issue more closely and consider possible solutions.
Among its many topics, the report looks at the role played by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the value of international benchmarks, and how A Levels may slowly change to a baccalaureate-type qualification that develops non-cognitive skills like team-working, inquisitiveness and emotional intelligence.
One recommendation that emerged was the creation of a national careers service. This is not about recreating a large infrastructure of advisors in schools, but instead about making a co-ordinated effort to inspire all children. This is something I’m very passionate about. One of the key components of a successful education system is giving young people the chance to make informed decisions about their choice of study and raise their awareness of the many pathways they can take beyond secondary education.
Surveys by UK employers and higher education institutions suggest students are not as well prepared as they should be for this transition. Put simply, good careers advice is something that’s been sadly relegated to casual conversations and accidental discovery.
There are hundreds of careers advice initiatives competing with each other, so it’s time to start linking these up. To do this we will need to collaborate, with businesses, educators and government working together to address the issue.
We are involved in one such exciting new partnership between business and education called Careers Lab, led by National Grid and involving other big companies like Capgemini, Costain, HS2 and Whitbread.
Opening their minds
Careers Lab bridges the gap between schools and industry by getting business ambassadors into the classroom to deliver inspiring careers lessons side-by-side with teachers. Its ultimate aim is to help young people aged between 11 and 16 think more widely about their working life, so they make considered choices which give them the best chance of a job when leaving education or training.
Initiatives like Careers Lab are essential if we’re to close the ever-growing skills gap. Industry can’t just sit back and blame education for that fact that young people aren’t equipped with the skills we need. We have to play a part in that journey, and Careers Lab is one important step along the way.
We don’t expect 11-year-olds to know what they want to do when they leave school, but we can open their minds to exciting careers and spheres of industry that they might not even know exist. If the UK is to succeed economically and future generations are to have the greatest chance in life, the importance of getting people in business to share their experience and career stories to inspire younger people cannot be underestimated.
For more information on the Making Education Work report, click here.
Click here to find out more about the Careers Lab initiative.