Headteacher Magazine, guide to services and products for UK Schools
A new platform helps connect young people in education to the world of work. An innovative new HR company, Uptree, is connecting people in education (aged 16-20) with employers and professionals for events, work experience and apprenticeships. The new ‘professional network and careers platform’ gives young people the opportunity to make numerous professional connections before leaving school, which will prove an invaluable kick-start to their careers and leave them unburdened by crippling student debt.
A whole range of careers, from Mechanical Engineering to Corporate Law, can now be accessed through apprenticeships and higher degree apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship Levy brought into place in 2017 has led to an increase in apprenticeship programmes run by industry leaders such as Tesco, Ernst and Young and IBM.
This wave of change and opportunity needs to be harnessed by teachers and school careers advisors so that it can be conveyed more effectively to young people. There is not enough education about, or understanding of, the raft of new vocational career paths available. A belief persists that higher education should be the default next step for motivated and aspirational children on leaving school. But a narrow focus on university application can discourage young people from thinking critically about how to best prepare for working life.
This is an exciting time of opportunity for young people of all backgrounds, with an ever-growing number of companies running apprenticeship and higher degree apprenticeship programmes. According to the Gatsby report, advances in technology and in the labour market mean that an increasing number of jobs require specific education and training. This has produced new vocational career paths which are not well understood by many young people or their teachers.
Since the university tuition fee increases of 2015, going to university is now a substantial financial commitment, with the average student spending up to £50,000 on tuition and maintenance fees in the UK. Yet despite this, a recent poll from consumer organisation Which? found that 91% of young people favour university as the next step after school.
Furthermore just 36% of 16-24 year olds felt that they knew enough about apprenticeships, compared with 94% who felt that they had a good understanding of undergraduate degrees. But In today’s labour market, a university degree does not guarantee you a well-paid graduate job; competition for graduate jobs has never been fiercer. Thus, for those who do choose to go to university, there also needs to be greater guidance to ensure they choose a course that aligns with their career aspirations.
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