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Making the dreams of the next generation a reality

28 January 2015

A colleague was telling me today that she’d wanted to strangle someone in the gym after overhearing a conversation by a mother who was proudly saying how her daughter had received 100% in her art A Level exam - a great achievement. However, this was followed by the mother being even more joyous about how she had managed to persuade her daughter to abandon her dreams of going to art college, and to take an English degree instead – because ‘that’s what will get her a job’. While I don’t advocate violence, I can understand the frustrations. At the moment, parents are the ultimate influencers of their children when it comes to careers advice, because of the lack of high-quality, independent advice. What’s most worrying about this, however, is that parents don’t have the full range of knowledge needed to help support their child effectively. This isn’t a criticism of anyone’s parenting skills – far from it. Instead, it comes down to the lack of information available for people to be able to make informed choices. Take today’s research from the Edge Foundation, for example. They found that over half of youngsters (60%) were choosing to make important career decisions based on their future earning potential. Yet both teenagers and parents are unaware of the earning potential of many sectors. AoC’s own survey found that only half of pupils in Years 7 to 11 felt well informed about the jobs that are available today. So where does the problem lie and, more importantly how can we fix it? Our argument is that there needs to be career hubs in each local area, supported by schools, colleges, universities, local councils, employers and Jobcentre Plus. These can provide independent information and advice and ensure everyone has access to it. This will ensure young people, and their parents, receive the support to make some of the most important decisions of their lives. Careers guidance and advice is failing young people in this country. Let’s not let the dreams of the next generation be scuppered.