Meet the Team

Insights: New to Careers? Advice for new Careers Leads in Schools or Colleges  

As the new year begins, you may be stepping into a new role as a Careers Lead in your school or college.

It is a responsibility that often requires the ability to navigate a challenging and evolving landscape of statutory requirements, different delivery frameworks and fragmented provision.   

We know that the world of education never stands still, and recently we have been really encouraged to welcome lots of new careers leaders in the schools and colleges we work with.  

Chloe Elliott, Career Connect’s Education and Business Operations Manager, shares her tips and advice for those starting out as Careers Leads, or any Career Lead who wants to reflect on their current progress.   

Be clear on the non-negotiables.  

The most helpful place to start is to understand the legislative framework you are operating under, and therefore what do you have to do.     

Updated Statutory Guidance for schools and colleges was released in January 2023. 

You can access the legislation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/careers-guidance-provision-for-young-people-in-schools   

On page 8 of the guidance, it shows that schools and colleges are now also required to provide students with a minimum number of opportunities to discuss technical education routes from Year 8 upwards. The way in which a school or college does this is also included in Ofsted inspections, and will form part of the personal development judgement.   

What are your school or college’s priorities for improvement? What can the careers programme do to support these priorities?  

A good careers programme can support schools and colleges to improve attendance, behaviour and motivation. Helping your students to understand the educational effort required to achieve their future goals can have an impact on overall achievement.  

Plus, by outlining the ways in which the careers programme is supporting the vison and values of the school or college it will increase the support from your colleagues and senior leadership team.  

What are you already doing, and why?  

Sometimes, it is really important to challenge your assumptions on what is already being done and why.  

Just because it is planned in the school or college calendar each year does not necessary mean it couldn’t be improved. Have the confidence to change activities or try new things if you think they would be more appropriate.  

Each year your school or college cohort will be different, and its important you have an understanding of their goals and aspirations so you can make sure activities that are provided for students are relevant, aspirational and inspirational.   

Think about what is working, and what isn’t. And how do you know?   

This a really difficult element of any careers programme to track. However it is important to analyse all of the information you have. For example, where are your students going once they have completed school, and what level and types of courses are they going on to? Are they staying on the courses they chose or dropping out?  

Once you analyse your destinations this will help you to plan if you need to change anything, especially if students are not maintaining attendance in Further Education or Higher Education. It’s also important to see if you feel there are gaps in the careers programme, such as what is on offer universally, and what are you doing in a more targeted way?  For example, what do you do for students who are at risk of NEET? If you work with employers and run school careers events what is the feedback telling you?  

If you commission an external careers provider to deliver elements of your programme, what are their quality measures? At Career Connect, we gather feedback and observe staff practice to ensure quality of practice. Speak to your provider and ask for their quality assurance procedures and feedback.   

What does good look like?  

The Gatsby Benchmarks provide an internationally-mapped framework of best practice of what ‘good’ looks like in careers. 

Many people forget that the Gatsby Benchmarks were developed from research that looked at a range of careers-related activities and interventions in schools and colleges across the world to provide a quality, modern framework for careers that UK schools and colleges could then apply to their own careers provision. 

Find out more about the Gatsby Benchmarks: https://www.gatsby.org.uk/education/focus-areas/good-career-guidance.  

For those schools and colleges that are meeting all of the Gatsby Benchmarks, another excellent way to ensure the quality of your careers programme is to achieve the Quality in Careers Standard. This is a nationally recognised award, valid for 3 years.  

To find out more visit https://www.qualityincareers.org.uk/ or speak to our Career Connect Accreditation and Training team about what this involves. Contact: schoolsinfo@careerconnect.org.uk   

What are your impact measures, and how are you defining success?  

Defining what you want to measure, and what your version of success looks like, will help you to plan the activities and interventions you need as part of your careers programme.  

For example, are you using the Compass Self Assessment tool to measure your progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks? Are you tracking where your current Year 11 are planning to study once they have completed GCSEs? Are you measuring aspirations of your year 7 cohort and plan to track them throughout their time at school so you can see how their choices and aspirations change over time?  

We work with our schools and colleges to make sure we are contributing to the overall success of the careers programme and share this information with the whole school or college team.  

What things have an impact on career learning?   

When helping young people to make careers related decisions, it’s important to consider the different types of activities that have the biggest impact on young people.  

Based on research, we work with schools to map their provision against three types of activities proven to have an impact:  

  • Attendance at careers fairs, careers assemblies, group sessions, and career-based research tasks. This helps young people explore local and national opportunities and expand on their knowledge of occupations and industry.  
  • Career interviews. Research has proven a careers interview with an expert careers’ guidance professional, has a direct correlation and impact on a young person’s understanding of the educational effort required to achieve their goals.  
  • Employer encounters. The more meaningful contact young people have with employers and the world of work, the less likely they are to be NEET in the future, so having a range of employer encounters, and the opportunity to work shadow or visit work places is essential.   

What is your student entitlement or careers offer in your school or college? Can your students define it? Can parents and carers? Can the other teaching staff?  

This is one of the questions that Ofsted may ask.  

We also know that many young people need lots of opportunities to understand the different types of activities they are taking part in and why. A definition of your careers programme displayed in classrooms and defined on your school or colleges careers page of your website is a great place to start. 

Digital tools can help.  

We know that teachers’ time is stretched more than ever before, and a quality digital solution is now an essential part of a modern careers offer. There are lots of great tools out there. It is important if you purchase one, that you work with the provider to maximise its effectiveness and usage.  

We offer a digital solution called Get Connected that offers a whole school careers programme for students in years 7-13. It includes all of the information young people need to know about taking their next steps. We work with our schools and colleges to maximise the use of this tool, to save teaching preparation time and to track progress.  Linked to the Gatsby Benchmarks, and able to integrate with MIS systems, it brings everything together in one place, helping you to plan your provision and monitor its impact.  

Who else can help?  

There are lots of organisations that can support you.  

The Careers and Enterprise company offer a range of resources and materials for free to schools and colleges – plus they provide most areas across the UK with a local careers hub.  

Your local careers hub will provide you with a network of support to make the most of the different initiatives available, and they are also able to provide schools with an Enterprise Adviser – an employer volunteer committed to supporting schools and colleges to improve outcomes for young people. To find your local Careers Hub: https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/schools/ 

So, you’ve done all that. What next?  

There are two final, but vital, questions to consider as you begin your plan of action.  

What voice do your students have in the careers offer?  

How do you gather feedback, and how do you make changes based on their opinions? When your students understand and value the careers offer in school or college, it is often much more successful in terms of outcomes.  

Enabling your students to have their say and see that their opinion matters can have a range of benefits. At Career Connect we have a group of Youth Ambassadors who support us to ensure the needs of young people are listened to and met. Can your school council do something similar?  

Where can you access more support and training?   

At Career Connect it is our mission to  help as many schools and colleges as  we can, and we are more than happy to discuss ways to improve careers provision with school and college careers leads. From organising employer events and mock interviews, to providing in-school advisors helping you work towards the Quality in Careers Standard, we can help.  

Career Connect has over 20 years experience in delivering expert careers information advice and guidance services for schools and colleges.   

Training for careers leads is provided by the Careers and Enterprise Company. To find out more: https://www.careersandenterprise.co.uk/careers-leaders/careers-leader-training/ 

What to know more? Speak to one our team today: schoolsinfo@careerconnect.org.uk 

Careers Advisor and students. Challenging Gender Stereotypes

Insights: Challenging gender stereotypes with a unique Women in Business event  

With International Women’s Day and National Careers Week coinciding, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, explains how Career Connect used both the content and format of a schools’ event to challenge stereotypes and create an impactful experience for pupils.  

“We were tasked with organising and delivering an event for Year 9 pupils, aimed at raising aspirations and challenging gender-based career stereotypes.

“Each year in partnership with the school, we deliver a Women in Business event – and each year the volunteers attending the event grows and diversifies.

“We arranged for inspiring women from a range of occupations and employers to attend school. Prior to the event, each attendee was briefed, and the concept of the event explained. We also supported attendees to prepare for the event in terms of how to present the information they wanted to discuss with pupils, and feel more confident in sharing their own career journey and lived experiences.

“The school supported the students by giving them time to think of questions they wanted to ask, and to take time to understand the different occupations of the attendees.

“On the day, each attendee was welcomed to the school and supported by Career Connect staff with the timings and running order. 

“Pupils made their way around a carousel, speaking to each attendee and asking them a series of questions…

“…and then the students were challenged to guess their occupations! 

“The ‘big reveal’ was made during a panel session, where each attendee discussed their profession and career journey.

“There were audible gasps from the pupils as some of their guesses were wrong and some right!

“Our guests were able to challenge stereotypes, with many of them working in non-traditional roles or STEM careers, and some not looking how the pupils expected someone in that job to look.

“The feedback from pupils and staff was that the event really opened their eyes to what could be achieved, and what sort of careers were open to them after school.

“Having a diverse range of professions was key and the students asked insightful questions which furthered their knowledge and understanding.

“The feedback from the professionals who attended was fantastic too, as they got a lot from the event and all were really passionate about inspiring the next generation of potential employees.

“After the event, the pupils were given the opportunity to reflect on their experience, discuss with their form tutors what this may mean for their future career choice, how they were inspired during the event, and what they were planning to do next.

“While the benefit for the pupils at events like this is clear, the benefit for employers and professionals is key too.

“It is a significant way for employers to engage with the next generation, challenge stereotypes and meet their social value commitments; to give back in local communities, promote their work and organisation.” 

We work with really committed businesses and employees, and we want to say thank you to all of those who continue to support us each year and inspire young people across the UK.

If you are a school or business and would like to find out about working with Career Connect, get in touch with our team via our Contact Us page.

Insights: What works in engaging employers with school events?  

This National Careers Week, Wendy Lavin, Employer Engagement Officer at Career Connect, shares best practice on how schools can engage well with employers and build long-term relationships that can benefit students for years to come.  

“Offering school pupils meaningful employer encounters is not only a key Gatsby Benchmark, but regular contact with employers is also a proven method for increasing future employment prospects,” says Wendy.     

“One of the key drivers for our team is to support schools and colleges in delivering inspirational and motivational events that are relevant for young people. It can be challenging to align the curriculum, the school day, and inspirational volunteers from the world of work, but there are things that you can do to make your event a success and build lasting relationships with local businesses and national employers.” 

Here are Wendy’s top tips. 

 Some of our non-negotiables when arranging employer events  

Give employers a lot of notice. A minimum of 8 weeks’ notice to attend events often yields the best return in terms of attendance  

Over-invite the number of people you need. Often things don’t go according to plan, and people have to drop out both prior to the event and on the day. Make sure you have invited more people than you need  

Think about the timing of the event. Some people will not be paid before 9am and others will work shifts, therefore sometimes a later start (such as 9.30am) can really help in achieving good attendance rates 

Preparation is key. Offer employers a chance to discuss with you what is expected of them. It can be really intimidating to stand up in front of a group of young people and talk about yourself, especially if you didn’t realise you had to!   

Prepare your pupils. We often find that the most positive relationships are built when pupils are well prepared for events and embrace the opportunity to meet with employers. Let young people know who is attending in advance, and perhaps ask your students to research them.  

It’s all about the welcome! It is essential there are enough staff on the day to manage lots of visitors throughout your event.  

Make sure you have a budget for refreshments. Everyone appreciates a tea, coffee and something to eat. It makes visitors who have given their time feel valued. It’s small but goes a long way. If there are specific times for refreshments or breaks, try to let them know in advance – employers may want to use this time to reply to work emails or take a call.    

Ask for feedback every time. It all helps you to plan your next event, and it keeps the conversation going with the employer. Hopefully this is the start of a long and fruitful relationship!  

For a chat about how Career Connect can help you with your employer events, contact us on: schoolsinfo@careerconnect.org.uk

Pictured: Career Connect’s Education and Business Team at an employer Skills Fair organised for schools

Schools and Academies Show

Career Connect Meets UK Career Leaders at Schools and Academies Show

Career Connect’s Education and Business team attended the national Schools and Academies Show – the UK’s leading education policy event – at Birmingham NEC on Thursday 17 November 2022. 

Our team was there to promote the wide range of services we offer to help UK schools and colleges to meet statutory requirements and the Gatsby benchmarks.

The Schools and Academies Show brings together the education sector’s most decorated and influential speakers, to share their knowledge, expertise and ‘best practice’ on how schools, academies and multi-academy trusts can overcome the biggest challenges facing education.

Visitors to our stand had the opportunity to speak to our resident experts about the range of school careers services we offer – many of which can be delivered nationally and virtually – and discover how we help schools meet Gatsby benchmarks and other statutory requirements. Our team was also able to offer advice and guidance about the Quality in Careers Standard, training and CPD for careers leaders and other school staff, work experience placements, careers coaching sessions and CEIAG consultancy.

Those attending the show were also among the first to get an exclusive demonstration of Get Connected, Career Connect’s brand-new CEIAG platform. Get Connected combines year-group-specific activities to support pupils’ individual journeys, along with tools to assist teachers including tracking, labour market information and careers lesson plans.

(L-R) Paul Williams, Carmel Skidmore, Amy Blakemore and Chloe Elliott from the Career Connect Education Business Team

Sheila Clark, Deputy CEO of Career Connect, said: “The Schools and Academies show is a key event for the education sector, and we were very excited to be part of it this year. We’ve had meaningful face-to-face conversations with careers leaders from across the UK, hearing their ideas and sharing our expertise about the current careers education landscape.  We’re looking forward to following up on those conversations and helping many more UK schools and colleges to improve the careers education services they offer to students.”

To discuss how Career Connect can help your school deliver a world-class careers education programme, please contact Amy Blakemore from our Education and Business Team via Schoolsinfo@careerconnect.org.uk.

You can also visit our Education and Business website at www.connectedu.org.uk for more information. 

Results Day

Tips & Advice for GCSE results day

Waiting for GCSE results day? Not sure what to do next? We have some tips and advice to help you…

Some Useful GCSE Results Day Tips:

  • If you have applied to a college or sixth form, you will need to know HOW to show them your results and enrol. Make sure you know this.
  • If you have an offer of an apprenticeship, is it dependant on your GCSE results? If so, you should send them a copy of their results, so call them and ask how you send them.

Bear in mind that, if you do not pass your Maths or English (Grade 4 or above), it is a LEGAL REQUIREMENT that you MUST resit these – so any college or sixth form you apply to will make you study these until you pass.

No plans or considering alternative?

  • Don’t panic! Do some research to ease the stress!
  • Apprenticeship vacancies are available on the National Government Apprenticeships website Browse these and see what opportunities are out there.
  • Check out College and Sixth form websites for courses that interest you. Note down their contact details and get in touch. They may ask what your GCSE results where, so these have to hand.

Know the difference between A Levels and BTECs

Remember: A Levels are exam-based, whereas BTECs use written assignments throughout the year. Both may include practical elements, depending on the course you apply for.

Steps to Follow on GCSE Results Day:

  1. Seek Advice – talk to your school/college careers adviser before making any decisions.
  2. Find out what courses are available from college and sixth form websites.
  3. Talk to sixth forms and colleges directly and have your results to hand. If you didn’t get the results you were hoping for, they can still help (possibly even offer you alternative courses) so still contact them.
  4. Interested in an apprenticeship? Visit the National Apprenticeship website and create an account – then you can make as many applications as you like.

If you are not sure what you want to do, talk to your school/college careers adviser – THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE THERE FOR.

Some useful websites:

And remember, if you don’t get the results you were expecting or hoping for (or maybe you did as badly as you feared) the important thing to remember is “Don’t Panic!”. It’s not the end of the world. There are always other ways to get where you want to go and people who can offer you help and advice. All you need to do is contact them.

A Level Results Day

Tips for Students on A Level Results Day

Had your A level results? Career Connect has some tips and advice to help you get the best outcome on results day….

Don’t be disappointed if you cannot see (and hug) school or college friends or celebrate on results day. Practicing social distancing is still essential and will help to prevent further spread of the virus. Remember to take your mask and hand sanitizer with you as this will also stop the spread of the virus.

When You Know Your Results:

  • Make sure you have your UCAS Track login details and UCAS ID number handy.
  • All Clearing vacancies are listed on the UCAS website. This means you can browse through vacancies now, in preparation for Thursday 18 August.
  • Apprenticeship vacancies are already available on the National Government Website. Browse these now to see what opportunities are out there if you are considering this option.

 UCAS Offers:

  • 9 August/18 August
    • 08:30: UCAS Customer Experience Centre and social media support opens for applicants.
    • 09:00: UCAS Hub is open and students can access their applications.
    • 10:00: Eligible applicants can add a Clearing choice.
    • 18:00: UCAS Customer Success Team, Customer Experience Centre, and social media support closes.
  • Check UCAS Track once you have collected your results to check your offers. Your track will have updated, so you should know if you have received an offer from your firm choice or not.
  • If you have not had an offer on your ‘firm’, you may have got a place on your ‘insurance’ choice.
  • In some instances, if you have not quite met the conditions of your offer, a university may still offer you a place on your chosen course.  So always check UCAS Track, even if you have not done as well as expected!
  • Some universities may offer you a place on an alternative course.
  • If you have done better than expected, you may be able to go through adjustment if there is another course you are interested in – www.ucas.com/adjustment
  • If you have no offers, or reject the offers made to you, you will be eligible to go through Clearing –  www.ucas.com/clearning

 Clearing – Steps to follow:

  1. Seek Advice – speak to your school/college careers adviser.
  2. See what courses are available – you will find these on the UCAS website.
  3. Talk to universities and colleges directly. All universities and colleges have Clearing hotlines open throughout results day. Make sure you have your clearing number (which will appear on your Track home page) and your UCAS ID Number. You must have a verbal offer of a place before you can add a choice online.
  4. Add your choice – click ‘add a clearing choice’ and fill in all the details of the course.
  5. Don’t panic. Do your research.

Alternatives to HE:

If you don’t want to go to university and have not applied for an apprenticeship or a job, it’s definitely not too late. Seek advice from your school/college careers advisor first. 

Some useful websites for Results Day:

 Useful Phone Numbers:

  • Exam Results Helpline – 0800 100 900 open from Monday 9 August – Friday 20 August (8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday) (10.00 am to 5.00 pm Saturdays)
  • National Careers Service – 0800 100 900

Local university clearing hotline numbers:

  • University of Liverpool – 0151 794 6800 (open 6:30am)
  • Liverpool John Moores University – 0808 5 564 565 (open 6:30am)
  • Liverpool Hope University – 0151 291 3636 (open 7:00am)
  • Edge Hill University – 0800 028 6677 (open 7:00am)
  • Chester University – 0808 1642710 or clearing@chester.ac.uk (open 7.00 am)
  • University of Manchester – General: 0161 306 6000, Clearing: 0161 672 8770, Confirmation of place: 0161 804 0050
  • Manchester Metropolitan University – General: 0161 247 2000, Clearing: 0161 247 3000
  • University of Salford – General: 0161 295 5000, Clearing: 0300 555 503
Top 10 Careers

Top 10 most advertised jobs of 2020

As of 2020 the following were the most advertised jobs of 2020:

  • Courier/delivery driver 
  • Sales roles 
  • Customer service roles 
  • Teacher 
  • Project Manager 
  • Cleaner 
  • Government Admin 
  • Mechanic 
  • Electrician 
  • Software developer 

Who was hiring in 2020?

  • Goldman Sachs 
  • NHS
  • Facebook 
  • Deliveroo 
  • JP Morgan 
  • Glaxo Smith Kline 
  • Apple 
  • Google 
  • BBC 
  • Recruitment Agencies

Which sectors are currently growing?

  • Health 
  • Care/Support Worker 
  • IT & Communications 
  • Engineering 
  • Scientific roles 
  • Logistics 

What about Apprenticeships?

In 2020 there were 319,000 Apprenticeship starts in the UK, with Advanced Apprenticeships (level 3) among the most widely available, with 138,000 opportunities. 23% of apprenticeship vacancies were offered to 16–17 year-olds, 29% were offered to 18-19 year-olds and 46% were offered to over 25’s. 

Comparing July 2019 and July 2020 in terms of the number of apprenticeships available, July 2019 offered 25,700 opportunities, while in July 2020 there were just 17,900.

If you’d like to know more about how COVID-19 has affected the opportunities for your students, speak to a member of our team today.

The impact of Covid-19 on the UK labour market

The UK Labour Market: Where are we now?

The impact of Covid-19 on the UK labour market

In April 2020, 1.6 billion people globally faced the immediate prospect of having their livelihood destroyed.

A great deal of uncertainty surrounds the long term impacts that COVID-19 will have on the UK labour market.  Unsurprisingly there has been a drop in the number of job vacancies available, with many firms putting recruitment on hold for up to 6 months.  Industries such as travel, leisure and oil and gas have seen seeing savage cuts to their operations and many jobs losses.  Conversely, industries such as health and care, online retailers and tech firms have seen a surge in recruitment. 

What does the UK labour market look like?

  • Unemployment is at 5.1% – the highest for 5 years
  • 2.6 million additional people are currently claiming out of work benefit 
  • In February 2021 there were 726,000 fewer people on payrolls than at the same time the previous year 
  • Of those 726,000 – 425,000 were aged between 18-24 years old 
  • 6 million people are estimated to currently be on furlough
  • 1 in every 16 people are currently employed, have changed their job and industry as a result of the pandemic. 
  • Between Nov 2020 –Jan 2021 there were 559, 000 job vacancies advertised this is 211,000 fewer than over the same period of Nov 2019 – Jan 2020

What is the impact on young people?

  • Previous evidence shows that, whilst recession increases unemployment across the population, it is those leaving education who see the most severe impact 
  • Understanding the damage of unemployment during a recession is viewed as complex but main issues are health, wellbeing and earnings 
  • This year there was an expectation that approximately 800,000 young people would be approaching the labour market for the first time 
  • If we look at data from 2008/9, unemployment generally across the working age population was 8.5% whereas for those leaving full-time education it was 32% 
  • Data also suggests that those leaving education in 2008/9 where much more severely affected by the crisis than those who left after 2011 
  • It’s not just school leavers who are affected.  The impact us also felt by graduates, who are more likely to take ‘lower skilled jobs’ as supposed to ‘no job’.
  • What are the chances of getting actually getting a job in a recession? 
    • Graduates – 15% lower 
    • Level 3 – 27% lower 
    • Level 2 37% lower 

This equates to some young people seeing their likelihood of finding work reduced by more than a third.

Reframing The Baker Clause

Reframing the Baker Clause

Under the Baker Clause of the Technical and Further Education Act 2017, every school must ensure that a range of education and training providers are given the opportunity to access all students in years 8-13 to inform them about approved technical education qualifications or apprenticeships. 

Every school is required to publish a policy statement that sets out their arrangements for provider access and they must ensure it is followed.  The schools must also publish a policy statement detailing the various ways colleges and training providers will be allowed access, including details of:

  • any procedural requirements relating to requests for access; 
  • grounds for granting and refusing requests for access; and
  • details of premises or facilities to be provided to those who are granted access

The clause is enforced in three ways: 

  1. As an absolute minimum, schools must provide details of how, when and to who access is given.
  2. Action will be taken against any schools/colleges who do not comply with the clause. 
  3. Any additional careers funding for the school or college will be dependent on them meeting their compliance requirements.

To find out how we can make your school/college compliant with the Baker Clause, talk to one of our experts today.

Skills for jobs - Article

Skills for Jobs White Paper – the implications for schools and college careers departments

On Thursday 21 January 2021, the Department for Education published its latest white paper relating to compulsory and post-compulsory education.  Entitled Skills for Jobs: Lifelong learning for opportunity and growth, the paper sets out a range of proposals relating to the organisation of careers education and guidance in England.

Among its implications for schools and colleges are the following points:

  • The Government will look to improve the National Careers Service website for young people to include more accessible labour market information (LMI) and career pathway content 
  • The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) will work with the National Careers Service to better align careers provision in schools and colleges 
  • Careers Hubs look likely to continue, along with training for Careers Leaders
  • The statutory duty for access to independent and impartial access to careers guidance is likely to be lowered to Year 7 (it is currently Year 8)  

New Statutory Guidance is imminent!

Talk to us about how we can help your school/college to meet the requirements of the Skills for Jobs White Paper.  Get in touch with one of our experts today