By Elaine Boyes, Executive Director, AGCAS
University careers services are aware that when students enter higher education, they arrive with different career planning starting points.
The AGCAS First-year Student Career Readiness Survey 2017/18 found that socio-economic background continues to be a major influence on students’ career readiness and confidence levels. Less than one third of younger students had clear career ideas before they chose their university course. A recurring factor influencing students’ career preparation and confidence was the careers guidance they received at school.
According to the responses from UK students under 20, a significantly higher proportion of students educated at private school reported that careers support had been provided in 6 out of 13 Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) initiatives compared to their state school peers.
The AGCAS view is that the gaps and apparent inequalities between students from state and private schools cannot be narrowed without policy change and a commitment to investment in CEIAG support in schools and further education.
“The AGCAS view is that the gaps and apparent inequalities between students from state and private schools cannot be narrowed without policy change and a commitment to investment in CEIAG support in schools and further education.”
Our research also reveals a significant social capital gap between students educated at private schools and those educated at state schools in relation to their confidence in business communication and business awareness. Private school students were more confident than their state school peers in talking to professionals employed in a field of interest, delivering a presentation at a job interview and understanding employers’ organisational culture.
We also found that students’ perceptions of which career-related activities were important differed according to demographic background. Students who need more support with increasing social capital lack awareness of and participation in social activities related to career planning while at university. This seems to be a pattern that begins at school.
University careers services‘ evidence-based approaches to shaping, delivering and measuring the impact of careers and employability interventions help support informed decision making. Careers services’ use of increasing volumes of data provides opportunities to better understand the student population, their different characteristics at entry point and the factors influencing their career planning.
AGCAS member services are increasingly offering differentiated careers support via tailored initiatives for specific groups of students. For example, over half of AGCAS members have developed support specifically aimed at first-year students, students from schools/areas of low HE participation and students from other disadvantaged backgrounds, while just under half have developed initiatives for first-generation HE students1.
The advice, guidance and support offered by careers and employability professionals helps students to start planning their careers at an earlier stage, resulting in better decision making and increased access to opportunities.
Published: 17 December 2018
The Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services (AGCAS) represents 82% of careers services within the UK HE sector, providing opportunities for professional development and the sharing of best practice. Throughout the UK our members support students and graduates to achieve the best possible careers outcomes. Collectively, we are the expert organisation on HE student career development and graduate employability.
1. AGCAS HE Careers Services Survey 2018?