Written evidence submitted by Lewis Melville, Alex Woodhead and Alessandro Demmatteis

Careers Service (CEIAG) Report:

To first address the question of the effectiveness of the Careers Service, it is important to outline whether students received advice at each level of education and if they were provided with any Careers Service in the first place. The research team conducted a survey with students and an interview with Emma Bonati, the career advisor at Edge Hill University, to understand the consensus of the effectiveness and opinion on the Careers Service.


At the High School level of education, 80% of respondents answered that they had received advice through the Careers Service, provided either at a Careers Day event or by another method. However, the results drop off and are much lower after time at High School. 25% of participants answered that they received further Careers Service support at College and at University level, with a further 11% of participants stating that they had not received any advice at all or simply did not remember.


To expand further on the issues surrounding the effectiveness of the Careers Service, Emma Bonati, of the Edge Hill University Careers Department and a former Careers Service advisor, stated that, due to budget cuts to the Careers Service in 2009, High schools and Colleges must opt in and pay for the Careers Service they receive, which the local community and council would have previously funded. This demonstrates the discrepancy displayed in the results of the survey, with 85% of participants stating that the government should provide more funding to the Careers Service and to statistics surrounding whether a participant had been supported and advised by the Careers Service.


Bonati explained the scope of the Careers Service the University provides for students, stating that they provide one-to-one meetings with students for any form of advice, whether they are looking for a part time job or a career after graduation in their prospective field. This includes help with writing up and updating CV’s, mock interviews to prepare students for when they interview for jobs after education. The Careers events are also an integral part of the Careers Service provided by the university. Such Careers events can be specified for a certain subject, such as, Law, to cater for specific students, rather than having one Careers day a year by which all students would have to attend to receive advice on their chosen subject/job field. As a last point to make on the matter, Bonati states that there is an Employer Engagement team that puts employers on campus to talk to students about a potential job in their field of employment which becomes a usual stepping-stone or gateway into a chosen career path by the student.


Different types of Careers:


Many of the responses that the survey received showed a remarkably high volume of people being advised to seek a career in the Armed Forces with 37% of are responses mentioning this outcome.

Other careers that seemed to be heavily reported are working in Health care with 15% of participants stating such advice was given. Engineering was mentioned in 13% of responses alongside teaching 13% and 11% into the financial industry. It should be noted that 8% of the respondents did not remember the careers they were advised on by the service.

This overall shows that there is a focus on State-run jobs such as ones in the Armed forces and less focus on specific jobs and more on a focus on the field that they should investigate going into such as with going into health care and teaching etc.


Did it have an actual impact on what students did next?


A vast majority of responses to the survey did not agree that the Careers Service had an impact on what they went on to do next, out of the 44.9% of these respondents, 22.9% strongly disagreed that the Careers Service had an impact on their future. Only close to a quarter agreed that the career service had an impact on what they did next. With the remaining 34.3% remaining neutral. However, this could suggest that these respondents were not greatly impacted by the career service to have an opinion.


Does the government put enough importance on the Careers Service, should they provide more funding for the service?


Most of the respondents agreed that the government does not place enough importance on the Careers Service, out of the 48.5% of the responses with this view, 11.4% strongly agreed and 37.1% agreed. However, there was only 20% of respondents that believed the government put enough importance on the Careers Service, of the 20% who agreed, only 8.6% strongly agreed that the government put enough importance on the service. Overall, 31.4% of respondents had a neutral stance. This could indicate a lack of knowledge of the government's current policies on career service.

There is an overwhelming majority of respondents, this being 85.7% of responses that believed the government should put more funding into the career service. Indicating that, regardless of whether the career service had helped many respondents, they believe that the service needs further funding. Only 11.4% of the responses believed the career service did not require further funding and 2.9% remaining neutral on the matter.


How could it be improved?


The overall response to the survey seems to be a perspective that there needs be more of a focus on a one-to-one approach in terms of the careers as mentioned in both the survey and the interview conducted with the member of Edge Hill Careers Department. Many viewed the job fairs model favoured by many educational institutions as lacking a lot of options and pathways into careers that a more personal approach would cover. The focus on university seemed to be a problem in terms of responses as respondents seem to feel that a lack of other options is not given. The funding issues were also raised as there was a lack of staff to support the service.

In addition to survey respondents, Bonati shares her vast experience of working in the Careers Service and suggests improvements that could be made and the potential issues that the current Careers Service faces. During the 2000s, the Government put a big emphasis on the Careers Service after Connections was created in 2002. Leading up to 2008, the funding for Careers Service at different levels of education resided in the local council and community. However, after 2008, the Careers Service had its budget cut and changed the way the Careers Service operated, whilst also losing 50% of staff. The service, in turn, changed to an ‘Opt in’ scheme, whereby a High Schools and Colleges would have to ‘Opt in’ and pay for the type of Careers Services they want to provide. This inevitably leads to inconsistencies at the level of advice students can receive, depending on their location and the amount of money that is directed towards providing advice and services. This issue is made apparent in the survey that we undertook, showing that there were inconsistencies at the level of advice students were given through the Careers Service, also showing that people had not received any advice at certain levels of education. We also saw responses indicating that 55% of respondents agreed that the Government does not put enough emphasis on the importance of the Careers Service, with 85.7% believing that is underfunded.

Such statements as “Put more money into the system and supply a good support network” and “Some career paths could be improved by knowing complementary topics at an early age. Engineering careers would benefit from late-stage academic courses such as maths and report writing (English) so careers advisors could help people by providing this information.” This further indicates that to improve the Careers Service, increasing the funding for the service is paramount, to allow wider access to higher levels of careers advice whilst centralising and streamlining the avenues of where funding is provided, at the local council and community level. This would in turn make the Careers Service more accessible and more equal throughout various levels of Education.

March 2022