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By Hope Virgo
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Lack of career advice leading to uninformed career choices says leading professional bodies

Chartered Management Institute | Chartered Management Institute

4 min read Partner content

A lack of careers advice in schools is leading to young people making uninformed careers choices, according to research released by a leading group of professional bodies ahead of Professions Week.

The survey of 1200 14-19 year olds from across the UK looked at awareness of different careers and how much young people knew about professional occupations.

At least 80% of 14-19 year olds had heard of legal, business, learning development, financial, engineering, communications and construction professions. However, when asked if they knew what each professional occupation involved, awareness was significantly lower. Less than 20% of those surveyed had a good idea what someone who worked as a patent attorney, executive coach, civil engineer, or an investment or pension manager does. Respondents had a greater idea (at least 50%) of what a journalist, architect and FE teacher does.

Over three-quarters of the young people surveyed said they were not interested in working in each of the professional occupations listed and 22% said they did not want to work in any of them. Less than 5% said they would be interested in working as an executive coach, surveyor, patent attorney or in tax. Journalism, FE teaching, management and marketing were the most popular career choices. The results indicate the more knowledge a respondent has about an occupation; the more likely they are to want to work in it.

Three-quarters of young people also felt it was unlikely they could become a professional in the legal, business, learning development, financial, engineering, communications and construction fields. The reasons respondents gave were not being suited, lacking wrong qualifications or it was too difficult. However, up to three-quarters thought a university degree was the basic requirement suggesting they were not making decisions based on fact.

Perhaps the most concerning finding of all was that 40% of those surveyed had not had any sort of careers advice in the past 12 months. Of the 60% who had received it, a further quarter said it was not helpful. The research implies the lack of careers advice means young people are not making informed choices about their future.

Sarah Hathaway Chair of Professions Week, an initiative set up by 15 of the UK's leading professional bodies commented: “the general perception of young people is that a career in the professions is not something they could achieve, yet a lack of careers advice suggests this isn't based on fact. Nearly all professions offer routes in without going to university first and encourage people from all backgrounds to join. This is why a group of leading professional bodies have got together to develop Professions Week (21-27 October) and will be urging young people to believe a career in the professions is for them.”

A copy of the report, 'Life as a Professional: what do 14-19 year-olds think?' is available on request.


This research was carried out as part of Professions Week. The research data was collected via a survey of 1200 14-19 year olds whose parents or guardians were either not working, or had jobs which were semi or unskilled or junior professional or supervisory; this is an indicator of socio-economic group and our sample is drawn from the middle and lower groups. The sample was taken from the YoungBods research panel, by the research agency ResearchBods and was drawn from across the UK.

Professions Week (21 – 27 October 2013) has been developed by some of the UK's leading professional bodies to increase interest and awareness among 14 – 19 year olds in the professions. It will also support teachers and careers advisors, giving them the relevant materials to help young people make informed decisions with regards to the professions.

A high-profile reception in the House of Commons will take place on 21 October to officially launch Professions Week. This will be followed by a series of regional and local activities organised by the professional bodies involving schools, colleges and other institutions.
The founding professional bodies involved in creating the Professions Week are:

Association of Accounting Technicians
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Association of Taxation Technicians
Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments
Chartered Institute of Taxation
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys
Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
Chartered Management Institute
Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
Institute of Leadership and Management
Institute for Learning
International Association of Book-keepers

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