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The team at Skills Route have had a hunch for a while that there’s a gap in the market for a website (or portal) that brings together all the options for post 16 study into one place. We have encountered young people, professional bodies, teachers, careers advisers and organisations who struggle to explain the current landscape of vocational and academic opportunities - and to truly do justice to all the options that are available for a given student in a given time and place.
Beyond that, there’s a growing body of reports and evidence that suggest the current status quo of careers education, information, advice and guidance isn’t quite hitting the mark. Ofsted have highlighted that the “the promotion of other post-16 options was particularly weak” and that parents are dissatisfied with the support their children receive in making decisions about post-16 study. In fact, “only 40% of parents think that the school helped them make informed decisions.”
Anecdotally, we hear that schools are disincentivised to give students an impartial view of locally available opportunities because one less student in sixth form is ££ less funding and less funding could lead to one less subject on their curriculum and one less teacher employed potentially too. And most disheartening of all, there’s some clear indicators that the lack of information and advice is leading young people to make poor choices, which ultimately contributes to frustration, to poor grades, to youth unemployment and to young people dropping out of courses altogether in year 12 and 13 and becoming NEET.
We can’t expect that every young person will decide on a career at the age of 18 and stick to it. This isn’t the 1960s after all. The Careers Defender (Janet Colledge) shared this great quote which sums up the complexity of the current careers advice challenge:
And as a girl who gave herself permission to explore my ideal ‘working day’ by calling a period of my life ‘job shopping’ (more on that later) at the age of 31 I couldn’t agree more. But this isn’t an easy process to take young people through. It’s no longer sufficient to help them complete a psychometric test from which we predict their ideal career based on data and complex algorithms and assume that they will work out the qualifications to get them there. Rather, we need to equip every young person with the language, self-awareness and tools to reflect on what they enjoy, to understand what opportunities are available and to take command of their own life, earning potential, work-life balance and much more. And to instil them with the will and capability to keep on reflecting on a regular basis.
Sadly though, providing this support and solving this challenge is not a simple task. In fact, explaining the qualifications in the first place isn’t straight-forward, let alone pointing a young person in the right direction of qualifications that are appropriate to their prior attainment and future aspirations. And that’s before you have even helped them consider the medium and long term implications of those choices.
So we’ve created Skills Route. Not to answer all those challenges, but to present a complex array of data in an intuitive, engaging format that enables them to look impartially at all the post 16 options available to them in a given geographic area and consider the implications of their choices and reflect on the things that matter most to them when it comes to their life choices.