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Children are ambitious for their futures. They want a good career and to get on in life. This year, I have been pleased to deliver so much on my ambition for a cradle-to-career approach to education that includes a stronger focus on vocational options and better careers education.  

What children say about jobs & skills 

“[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. 

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.  You can read more about what they said here. 

However, children weren’t just concerned about working for their own benefit, they also cared about the impact they would have on others. Read more children’s passion for a Better World and green jobs here, or their views on the future of skills here. 

“[I want] opportunities outside of school to participate in such as work experience, shadowing etc to actually learn what we like” – 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, with a greater focus on apprenticeships and vocational education. You can read more about what children want from apprenticeships here. Children felt that they did not have enough role models to inspire them, especially from similar backgrounds to their own. 

There are also particular challenges for some children; you can read more about the challenges facing care leavers and children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. 

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

A large focus of my work this year has been encouraging numeracy and to help children understand the importance of STEM subjects. 

In response to children’s views around the importance of STEM subjects and the lack of female role models, I developed an Where can I go with Maths?, an interactive quiz for young people that suggests, based on the children’s interests, the career profiles of people who use related skills. The resource was shared with schools on National Numeracy Day and we estimate that thousands of children have accessed it since the launch. You can find out more about the fantastic female role models using maths in their careers and what we learned about girls and STEM 

I was also able very excited to use Maths Week England to launch The Big Ask Maths Week Challenge, which is open until January. This is an exciting opportunity for children to test their maths skills, using real data from The Big Ask. 

I have been lucky enough to talk to so many children all around the country on their ambitions for the future. Conversations that stick in my mind are talking care experienced apprentices from Warwickshire, to primary children getting their first careers conversations through Primary Futures, and Open Road West Norfolk FE college. 

A key part of my job is bringing the views of children to the heart of Government, which I’ve done in meetings with Alex Burghart MP, then-Minister for Skills, and Chloe Smith MP, then-Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, and with the Education Select Committee 

Looking ahead 

I am excited for further work in this area. My team have been hard at work establishing a Children’s Advisory Board and a Care Experienced Advisory Board, who will be able to bring invaluable insight into how we can support children into the futures they want. 

I also look forward to further work on the quality and consistency of PSHE teaching, children’s experience of careers education and how we can improve it. I want to find ways to meet children’s desire to be prepared for life and not just exams.  

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