A quarter of Brits left secondary school without any career advice

Less than one in ten Brits think the careers advice they received in school was impartial and helped them to make the right decision.

More than a quarter of Brits (27 per cent) left secondary school without any career advice, according to a new poll commissioned by Oxford Open Learning Trust.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults, commissioned by Oxford Open Learning Trust alongside launching career change advice tool The Profession Picker, looked into the advice Brits received at school and how they felt about choosing their future careers.

Only three out of ten adults knew the job they wanted to pursue after leaving secondary school (30 per cent) and more than one in ten (12 per cent) feel they chose their career pathway too young.

Just less than a quarter of workers currently in a career (24 per cent) say that this is what they thought they would end up doing when they left secondary school.

The poll also finds that many Brits feel they were pushed down one particular career path, as just 9 per cent of respondents say they think the advice they received in school was impartial.

Many respondents feel their schools pushed them towards going university. Despite rising tuition fees over the years, half of 18-24 year olds (50 per cent) feel they were steered towards higher education, compared to 28 per cent of 25-34 year olds and 17 per cent of 35-44 year olds.

Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of adults overall say they felt pushed towards going to university but just 2 per cent say they were pushed towards an apprenticeship.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of 18-24 year olds, also feel their secondary school pushed them towards studying certain subjects more than others, compared to 17 per cent of 25-34 year olds

When it comes to the careers advice given by our parents and guardians, almost a third (31 per cent) say they had limited career advice to give them, but 42 per cent say their parents and guardians were supportive of their eventual career path.

Dr Nick Smith, courses director and founder of Oxford Open Learning Trust, says, ‘Many Brits received very different careers advice to the guidance offered in schools today. It is interesting to see the differences in generations and how they feel their secondary school pushed them towards studying certain subjects or going to university.

‘We were shocked to discover so many people felt the careers advice they received in secondary school wasn’t impartial and that they felt pushed into one career or another. Despite there being more jobs available, many still feel they are being forced to choose a career path at 16 and this is one of the reasons there are so many career changers in their twenties.’

Smith concludes, ‘A previous study we carried out found that over a quarter of British workers (28 per cent) are considering a career change in the next ten years. We found that money is the biggest motivator behind changing careers, followed by better working hours and personal interest.

‘We created the Profession Picker tool to help those thinking of a career change. Each year, we serve learners who might need an extra qualification such as a GCSE or A Level in order to get their desired job and start a new career.’

Further reading on career advice

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