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Young people's ambitions stunted by poor career advice

7th August 2014

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Research has suggested that young people’s aspirations are not being met with relevant or helpful careers advice.

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found that, although 87% of those aged 14-19 have given thought to their career options and the right steps to achieve the job they want, the careers advice they are receiving is not keeping up with their demands.

84% of those questioned said that they would like, or would have liked, more advice from their school or college on their future options. 70% requested better guidance from teachers, whilst 61% would have benefited from speaking to someone in the relevant industry and 36% named trade bodies and employers as potential sources of help.

The result of unhelpful career advice is incorrect assumptions, such as 71% of those aged 14-19 believing that they would need a degree to enter a career such as accounting – which isn’t true.  

43% of those questioned said that the careers advice they were given in school hasn’t helped them make a decision about the career they want, or that they hadn’t been given any guidance at all.

24% admitted that they were taking the next step in their career purely because their parents had told them to, whilst 15% were doing so to fit in with their friends.

Despite the poor advice that they’re seemingly being given, 14-19 year olds are optimistic about their prospects, with 84% believing they are ‘quite likely’ or ‘very likely’ to enter their chosen career.

The most popular way to do this is via A-levels, which were the preferred option for 65% of those questioned – but over a third (37%) have also considered apprenticeships, and 22% have looked into professional training, proving that the academic route is not the only option for school leavers.

48% of those questioned are concerned about unemployment, which is less than in 2010 when a similar study was carried out by AAT – four years ago 56% were concerned about being financially stable and 50% worried about being unemployed, indicating that young people may perceive that economic conditions for job hunters are improving.

Mark Farrar, chief executive of the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: “This research shows that the young people who have grown up through the recession are remarkably driven in thinking about their future career plans and acting on them.  However, careers advice in schools and colleges isn’t keeping pace with this demand, meaning that some young people are relying on what their friends or parents tell them. “

He adds: “Young people should be aware of alternatives such as Apprenticeships and professional training which can create a route into fantastic careers.”

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