Business leaders should give regular talks in schools to stop teenagers dreaming of being footballers or pop stars rather than surveyors or technicians, according to the National Careers Council.
A report from the government advisory body says that many young people have unrealistic career ambitions and need better advice on how to develop the qualifications and skills for specialist jobs that employers need. Britain’s future growth is being hampered by a careers “mismatch” that leaves businesses unable to find skilled staff, while a million young people are out of work, it adds. The report calls for sweeping changes in support for young people.
The skills gap is most acute for medium-sized businesses looking to hire staff to work in engineering and technology, but there are also acute shortages of scientists and mathematicians. Employers find it hard to recruit people for skilled trades such as welding, which are much better paid than popular choices among young people such as working in shops.
The report says the National Careers Service, set up last year with a budget of £106 million, is too focused on helping older people to retrain or to find work. It calls for an advisory board led by employers to redirect its role to give greater emphasis on supporting and advising young people on jobs. It also says employers must do more, and calls on businesses to send staff into schools to give talks and offer work experience.
The report coincides with concern in Whitehall that the skills gap may hold back Britain’s economic recovery.
Deirdre Hughes, chairwoman of the National Careers Council, said: “Today’s young people and adults face tough competition for jobs, yet many employers report difficulties in recruiting people with the right skills. It falls to the careers sector to respond and make sure that both young people and adults get the help they need.”
A recent survey of 11,000 teenagers found that career hopes were heavily influenced by celebrity culture. Most wanted to become musicians or actors.