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

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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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