Posted: 5 February 2014
Comments (3)

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.

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Careers advice that counts

Careers advice that counts

The Careers Lab project has been developed in response to the growing gap between the skills young people have and the needs of business.

“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.

Informed decisions

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.

Steve Holliday, National Grid’s Chief Executive Officer

Steve Holliday, National Grid’s Chief Executive Officer.

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.

Read more

For more information on the Making Education Work report, click here.

Click here to find out more about the Careers Lab initiative.

  • Robert S. Turner

    recently I have been placed on a nebulizer for my breathing. I MUST use it 4 to 5 times a day. On 7/7/2104 around 8 PM or so the power went out. This is not an unusual event as since moving here in 2009 the power has gone out at least a dozen times. Before I wasn’t as bothered as I am now. Facing a life threatening situation I am pleading with you to research why the power goes out so much. I myself have reported it 4 times or more. Also, is there anything I can do to register as disabled so that it s documented? Please contact me. By the way, I do not know what time the power was resumed as I went to bed.
    Mr. Robert S. Turner

  • Tom Abbott

    Robert – can you let me know if you are in the US or UK and then I can direct your comment to the right people.


  • Dawn Willden

    The concept if fantastic, modernising guidance and leading the country into a new era, where collaboration will be the only way we can survive, both economically and environmentally.

    Young people deserve to be given the chance to make their mark or at least the tools to do so when they are ready.

    Look forward to hearing more about this work, so send me some really good newsletters please.


    Dawn W

Gas innovation in full flow