Research: most students haven’t had useful careers advice

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By Alex Aldridge on

Parents are out-of-touch and career advisors still only sporadically consulted


Despite the shaky economy and soaring levels of student debt, half of 14-24 year-olds haven’t had a careers conversation with a teacher, lecturer or other careers professional over the last year.

And while most of those who did (79%) found it useful, that still leaves an overall figure of 60% of students lacking a meaningful formal careers advice experience.

The figure was even worse when the results were narrowed to 19-24 year olds, with only 31% of them having had a careers advice conversation in the last 12 months which they considered useful.

The research — which was released by the government yesterday to mark the start of Professions Week — saw 2,448 14-24 year olds and their parents surveyed.

Although generally happy to give advice, many parents worried that their children did not believe them or were not interested. Where parents seemed to be influential was in setting expectations for their children in the fast-changing area of higher education. Only 45% of 14-24 year olds from lower socio-economic groups thought they would probably go to university, in contrast to 83% of their higher socio-economic counterparts.


Legal apprentices Alex Hirsh and Jide Ajibola (pictured below at yesterday’s Professions Week launch at the House of Commons) had to be pro-active and root out information about becoming a lawyer themselves because there wasn’t much information about legal education at their schools. But having taken matters into their own hands they have recently begun training at, respectively, City law firm Withers and the BBC’s legal department.


Without formal careers advice, both turned to online resources, with Ajibola using Legal Cheek and Lawyer2B and Hirsh spotting government-backed announcements about new routes into the legal profession through social media.

From that point it was a question of putting in applications, with the pair joining Withers and the commercial arm of the BBC earlier this year. Both will qualify as chartered legal executives lawyers over the next six years.

While Hirsh thinks he might go on to take the solicitor qualification (which chartered legal executives can get without having to complete a training contract), Ajibola points to the growing parity between the different branches of the legal profession as he suggests that he’ll “have to wait and see”.