Jobs?! We mean careers, don’t we? Yes*.

What is the role of the education system? To educate young people in matters that the government / society considers to be important? To develop well-rounded young people? Keep young people occupied while their parents can work to grow the economy? Prepare young people for the world of work?

It’s more than likely that the education system fulfils a combination of these notions and more but the last one of those is where we shall focus our attention in this article. For many parents, careers information in school is largely a distant (if not non-existent) memory. People may recall being suggested unexpected careers (e.g. beekeeper, anyone?) without understanding how these arose from the psychometric test they did. People may also recall undertaking some type of work experience. While few then would have had the opportunity to explore their options more than a test and some work experience, the variety of activities that students undertake as part of schools’ careers provision is now much broader.

Schools are now guided by the Gatsby Benchmarks after the Department for Education adopted them as part of its career guidance strategy in December 2017 designed to improve social mobility. The Benchmarks (shown below) were developed by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation following a review of available literature on career guidance in state schools, visits to five independent schools and visits to six countries where career guidance and educational results were good.

Figure 1: Gatsby Benchmarks

Schools can evaluate themselves against these benchmarks using Compass, a tool developed by the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC). The CEC was set up by the Government to act as strategic co-ordinating body to bring schools, colleges, employers, funders and providers together to deliver careers and enterprise support to young people. The CEC has partnered with organisations on a local level (including Local Enterprise Partnerships) to build a network of Enterprise Coordinators who work with schools and colleges to build careers plans. Each school is supported by an Enterprise Adviser, a volunteer from the business world. You can volunteer to become an Enterprise Adviser here.

Furthermore, the Government also set up the National Careers Service to provide information, advice and guidance with JobCentre Plus advisers also involved at the local level (either directly with schools or via the National Careers Service).


While anecdotal evidence would suggest that it can be challenging to fit all of the activities and experiences suggested by the Benchmarks into the academic year, the CEC’s own analysis would suggest that progress is being made. Helping young people to make informed decisions is critical in an economic recovery.


We have a number of resources in the Skills and Employability section that you may find useful. Here’s an example from our Careers Chat series.

* We’re cheating a bit to get this topic into our A-Z series of writing about important themes and ideas related to the world of education that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The last ones were on Information Diet, Homeschooling, Growth Mindset and so on…

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