GCSE results: Almost all young people believe not enough is being done to help them find their first job

Written by: Aftab Ali
Published on: 25 Aug 2016

Almost all young people feel their school or college has failed to adequately prepare them for the world of work, new research has shown.

On the day 700,000 15 and 16-year-olds receive their GCSE results, apprenticeship site GetMyFirstJob says its survey* highlights how more needs to be done to guide students into the world of work following their exams.

As well as the 98 per cent of young people who felt discontented with the supervision and job advice given by their school or college, a further 92 per cent said they felt the current UK education system prioritises exam results over career advice. Nine in ten respondents also felt exams were a “poor way” of testing young people’s education.

The majority also admitted to feeling unprepared for the world of work; 83 per cent were not advised on the best way to start looking for a job or apprenticeship, and only a third believed their school or college had provided satisfactory information about apprenticeships and their benefits.

University and college degrees were the most talked-about education and career options in UK schools, with 63 per cent claiming they discussed the former with their career advisor, and 68 per cent the latter. Traineeships rated the lowest, with only ten per cent stating their career advisor had reviewed the option of such schemes with them.

The survey has come on the day 66.9 per cent of GCSE students achieved A* to C grades this year, down from 69 per cent last year, with the number of those achieving A* grades also dropping by 0.1 per cent. 

David Allison, founder of GetMyFirstJob, described how the decline in top grades for the fifth year running has shown too few students are being provided with information and guidance on alternative avenues to further education.

He said: “More work must be done among schools, training providers, and colleges to ensure everyone involved is fully aware of the options available for students after the completion of GCSEs.”

As well as feeling unprepared on how to attain a job following their studies, scores of young people also feel they are not getting enough education on managing their finances, causing them to fall into debt in later life. 

Financial education charity MyBnk recently polled 1,200 students to find girls were ten per cent less confident in money matters than boys, leaving them potentially less prepared to deal with other inequalities later in life like pay, debt, unemployment, and social mobility.

They lagged behind boys in their confidence of borrowing by 23 per cent, banking by 20 per cent, and insurance by 14 per cent. They were also 16 per cent less confident their ability to make an informed financial decision.

However, young women did show the most improvement after expert-led money lessons, closing the confidence gap - bringing them on par with young men.

CEO at MyBnk, Guy Rigden, described how the charity had identified “a worrying early indicator of divergence” in the life chances of young women compared to young men when it comes to money management - a basic life skill. He said: “Yet this study also reveals the huge potential of young people when they are engaged with money and are motivated to act which also affects attitudes and behaviours.

“Prevention is always cheaper than the cure and we are calling on education departments, financial services, and corporates to back what works in our classrooms to help dodge debt and level the playing field for young people. Funding is tight and it’s becoming harder to deliver frontline projects like ours which help narrow the inequality gap.” 

*1,000 17 to 24-year-olds surveyed