Finding their way in education or their early career is one of the most daunting challenges a young person will face. Many are unaware of the choices available to them, and though academic institutions may work hard to equip students with the life and work skills that make for successful career choices, they already have a big enough job to do, and in a purely practical sense it is difficult to yoke early-to-mid level academic study with real-world experience of work and further education.

The strain put on employers and the wider economy in 2020 – 2021 has greatly impacted young people. Analysis by the Prince’s Trust and HSBC* found that young workers are under-represented within sectors considered to be on the road to recovery, with 41% of employers saying the pandemic will have a negative impact on young people’s prospects in their respective sectors in five years’ time.

Worse, it’s the socially or economically disadvantaged who bear the brunt of the impact of the global pandemic. In the HSBC and Prince’s Trust report, “Facing the future, employment prospects for young people after coronavirus”, the authors also suggest that pre-existing inequalities in the labour market will be exacerbated in the post-pandemic market; the decline in working hours for young people with no qualifications is five times higher than for those with a degree level qualification.

Listening to your needs

No organisation can hope to single-handedly undo the vast impact of an unprecedented global pandemic. But those who support communities and social demographics who are most at risk from its impact must listen and adapt. Our new schools careers information, advice and guidance (IAG) service, which we call “Careers Guidance For You”, has been developed in the light of ongoing conversations with schools, students and parents throughout this challenging time.

When we designed the new version of our popular schools’ careers service, our two key priorities were the increasing importance of careers guidance for all young people everywhere in the UK, and the need to ensure our packages and delivery are flexible, effective and equally accessible for all.

It is more important than ever that we can deliver our services to anyone at any time, ensuring nobody misses out, which is why we will significantly enhance our digital and remote delivery, for instance with pre-recorded webinars, a blend of remote and face-to-face careers guidance by qualified careers advisers, skills assessment tools that can be used anywhere, and much more.

What young people have missed

Over the past year, young people have to make choices about their next steps in education and careers with significantly reduced (or no) exposure to work and further education environments. This experience is crucially important to young people; if you’ve been to college or university, think of how important it was to you to visit on open days and get a sense for the place, the culture, the teachers and lecturers. Think of the life-changing experience of work placements or shadowing. Young people have had to digest a bewildering amount of information to make informed decisions for themselves, and they’ve had to do it in a way that is purely theoretical; difficult when the language used and experience alluded to is beyond your immediate scope of reference.

Informed, productive planning and preparation can make a huge difference to young people as they start to consider their future. If you want to be an astronaut or a brain surgeon, you’ll have to start on a very particular road pretty early on. But for many other people, simply preparing as well as you can for education, or being aware of your strengths and what you enjoy, can make a huge difference to success and happiness. I believe one of the most valuable services Adviza provides is helping to support young people in years 11 and 12 who are risk of falling between the cracks of education, training or employment, by ensuring they have a plan in place, are better prepared for the next stage in their education, have solid CVs and have experience of interviews.

The role of parents in careers choices

Parents can play a significant and influencing role in the careers choices of their children. But keeping abreast of the raft of ever-changing qualifications, education support mechanisms, bursary opportunities, private-public partnership education and employment schemes is a full-time job in its own right. Our parent webinars have received hugely positive feedback as they do much to open parents’ eyes to careers choices, resources and research that can help young people to make informed decisions.

The future

School is a time when young people can explore their ideas and options, and begin to formulate some sense of a future. I am proud to be part of an organisation that helps young people assess their choices in a confidential, safe environment, supported by trained careers professionals who can provide accurate information about careers and learning, and crucially important experiences that reveal what further education and work really feels like.

Let’s give our young people an opportunity to explore their options, generate new ideas about their future, a pragmatic assessment of what it really takes to get to where they want to be, and the inspiration to raise their aspirations.

Learn more about Careers Guidance For You.