Jobs and skills is a core pillar of my work as Children’s Commissioner following ‘The Big Ask’, which was the largest-ever survey of children.
Children and young people told me in The Big Ask that jobs were a top priority. They told me that they want to get on and do well. They want to work hard, and spoke in terms not just of jobs, but careers – often civicminded careers.
When asked to choose from a list up to five things that will be most important to have a good life, the top choice among children aged 9-17 was “a good job or career” (selected by 69% of children). In response to the survey’s free-text question, “What do you think stops children/young people in England achieving the things they want to achieve when they grow up?”, children brought up A levels, apprenticeships, and jobs.
This generation of children are ambitious to do well and succeed. As one child said: “I don’t really know what I want to be but what I do know is that I want to go to university as none of my family members have yet to do it” – Boy, 8. And another also said: “I expect great things from myself” – Gender fluid, 13.
We heard from children wanting apprenticeships to give them the skills and training they need to get into work. They said: “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. Despite widespread education on careers and opportunities, children wanted some more guidance on how to get the right support to move into the workplace. Children with care experience need advice and support to raise their aspirations and guidance to achieve them.
Within this pillar I will be adopting a cradle to career approach to education, including a stronger focus on vocational routes such as apprenticeships and better careers education, bringing schools and workplaces closer together, helping children achieve their ambition of a good job or career when they grow up. I will pay special attention to helping children, in particular young girls, to succeed at STEM and maths subjects.