Careers talks make a difference – in unexpected ways

Careers talks make a difference – in unexpected ways

What impact do careers talks have on GSCE students? You might be surprised!

Credit: CC #WOCinTech Chat

Connecting young people to the world of work through careers talks is generally assumed to result in greater knowledge about career paths but could it even change attitudes to education and produce better exam grades? A new study suggests that the effects of such a simple intervention as three extra careers talks can make a difference to how young learners approach their studies.


Researchers from the charity Education and Employers used data from around 650 students in their GCSE year across five schools across England.  The intervention group consisted of 307 pupils who received three extra career talks given by volunteers from the world of work on top of the usual career activities organised by their school.


Increased revision hours


Students in the intervention group reported on average a 9% higher increase in their weekly revision hours compared to peers in the control group and a direct link between the career talks and students outperforming their predicted grades – the equivalent of one student in a class of 25 beating their predictions by one grade as a result of the careers talks.


The analysis also shows that lower achievers and less engaged learners responded best to the intervention. Within the group who received three extra career talks, those who were initially more sceptical of the value of education reported a greater increase in motivation to study harder. For instance, students predicted a borderline pass in English GCSE reported a 32% increase in planned weekly revision hours, whereas those predicted high grades from 6 to 9 only reported a 10% increase.


Attitude shifts


There was also a shift in attitudes with the students showing improved confidence in their own abilities and career aspirations. In addition, as a result of the three encounters, 7% of the students changed their future plans while around 20-28% of them questioned their career and education choices.


According to Dr Elnaz Kashefphkdel, head of research at Education and Employers, “this report shows that short interactions with volunteers from the world of work can have a powerful impact on attainment.  And more significantly, that the low achievers and less engaged learners have the most to gain in improving their academic attainment.   


Ofsted and careers


Adrian Lyons, Her Majesty’s Inspector, national lead for economics, business and enterprise commented,  “careers is given a high profile in the new Ofsted inspection framework taking effect from September 2019.  Inspectors will judge whether the school is providing an effective careers programme in line with the government’s statutory guidance on careers advice that offers pupils: unbiased careers advice, experience of work, and contact with employers to encourage pupils to aspire, make good choices and understand what they need to do to reach and succeed in the careers to which they aspire.”


At TechPathways we want educators of 11-24-year-olds in London to be able to share their knowledge of digital careers in the city to engage and inspire young people with all the possibilities open to them. That’s why we link educators with industry partners from across London’s digital and cultural sectors, such as google, British Film Institute and IBM. Take a look at our free courses page to find out more.