22nd August 2022

Jobs & skills – The Children’s Commissioner’s view

Children are ambitious for their futures. They want a good career and to get on in life.

What children say about jobs & skills

In ‘The Big Ask’, children’s top priority for the future was getting a good job or career. Children from every part of the country showed how ambitious they are for their futures and that they wanted to get on in life and succeed.  

‘I expect great things from myself’ – Gender fluid, 13.

Children weren’t just concerned about working for their own benefit, they cared about the impact they would have on others. As one girl said:

“[I want] a good career to earn some good money for my family and friends to share and get a nice house and give money to the homeless and try hard”. – Girl, 8.

Children felt that schools and employers should work together so that there are greater opportunities for children to understand the workplace and the options after education: 

“[I want] opportunities outside of school to participate in such as work experience, shadowing etc to actually learn what we like” – Girl, 14.

Children felt that they did not have enough role models to inspire them, especially from similar backgrounds to their own. Some felt that more relatable role models would improve their confidence and self-belief:  

‘I also think that there are issues to do with race, and gender, because of the role models young people may see, how they are treated and what they are told they can or cannot do.’ – Girl, 14

‘I [really] want to be a scientist when I am older. The thing that stops me is my friend’s [opinion] and my [confidence].’ – Girl, 9.

Children said that they value apprenticeships as they can offer them the skills and training they need to get into work:  

“Apprenticeships are a good route for those wanting to leave formal education post 16 and I feel there needs to be more workplaces offering this”– Girl, 15.

“I also think that more apprenticeships or workshops with people in our desired careers would be extremely helpful”– Girl, 14.

Despite widespread education on careers and opportunities, children wanted some more guidance on how to get the right support to move into the workplace. In particular, children with care experience need advice and support to raise their aspirations and guidance to achieve them.  

What progress we have made to deliver for children on the area of jobs & skills

  • In response to children’s views around the importance of STEM subjects and female role models, the Children’s Commissioner has  developed an interactive quiz for young people that asks about children’s interests within maths and suggests career profiles of people who use related skills in their jobs. The aim is to promote numeracy and help young people, particularly girls, link their education to potential careers in STEM. The resource was shared with schools on National Numeracy Day and thousands of people have accessed it since the launch. 
  • The Commissioner is establishing a Children’s Advisory Board and a Care Experienced Advisory Board. The office has begun working with stakeholders and establishing the terms of reference for the boards. 

The vision for children

  • The Children’s Commissioner’s ambition is for a cradle-to-career approach to education that includes a stronger focus on vocational options and better careers education. We will be exploring how we can improve young people’s access to apprenticeships and other vocational routes to a career. 
  • Children want to be prepared for life and not just exams. They know how valuable it is to be taught well about life skills, careers and finances, and relationships. As part of a project on the quality and consistency of PSHE teaching, the Commissioner will be seeking to understand children’s experience of careers education and how we can improve it. This will include focus groups and a nationally representative survey of children’s experiences of education on health, life skills, careers and finances, and relationships. 
  • The Children’s Advisory Board and Care Experienced Advisory Board will investigate important areas and support the development of resources to be shared with children and young people across the country, including a focus on jobs & skills. The Office will also be offering training and development opportunities as part of the Advisory Boards programmes. 
  • The Office will be collaborating with Maths Week England sharing a resource for schools utilising data from The Big Ask to help children understand statistics.