Over half unaware of alternatives in careers advice confusion

Nearly half of 16 – 18 year olds want to go to university because it’s ‘just the logical next step’, with less than half receiving careers advice about alternative routes into the professions, according to a survey commissioned by ACCA UK (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

A third of all respondents agree that university is positioned by their careers adviser as ‘the only way to get ahead and have a professional career’, with 32% convinced that they would be less attractive to potential employers without a degree.

Alarmingly, 56% of respondents answered that they had not been informed about a professional qualification as an alternative to a degree, yet when this option was explained, 54% would consider it as an alternative to going to university. Nationally, 60% of UK 16 – 18 year olds feel that the careers advice they receive at school is average or below.

Andrew Leck, Head of ACCA UK, said: “Incomplete careers advice means that students are unable to make informed choices about their futures. Our research revealed widespread confusion about the education requirements for some professions, with many students unsure whether or not a degree is a prerequisite to become an accountant, teacher, doctor or lawyer. We are at serious risk of stifling new talent in these fields, simply by not providing young people with sufficient information.”

Other highlights of the survey results include:

* Girls are 11% more likely than boys to agree that a university qualification will be advantageous in having a successful professional career
* Boys are 15% more likely to have been spoken to about a professional qualification as a university alternative
* Careers advice in Northern Ireland was rated best in the UK, with 52% declaring it good or better, compared with only 26 per cent of 16 – 18 years who considered this the case in Yorkshire.

Leck continued: “The need for good careers advice has been rightly thrust to the top of the Government agenda. Subject to the passage of the Education Bill, from September 2012 schools will have a legal duty to provide students with independent careers advice, which must come from a source other than an employee of the school. Professional bodies across all industries must recognise the important part they play in this guidance and education, not only by educating students directly, but by assisting careers advisers when explaining the range of choices in their field.”