Skills beyond school

Work-based learning and career guidance


 Read the OECD report: Working it out: Career guidance and employer engagement

The issue and scope

Young people need to be exposed to the world of labour in order to form realistic views of different career paths. This can be achieved by ensuring that they have opportunities to spend some time in workplaces. However, work-based learning is often seen as having lower value and academic paths are preferred by youth and their parents. This poses challenges to school-based career guidance which faces difficulties in providing accurate information about labour market needs. Furthermore, external factors (e.g. family and social background) as well as internal factors (e.g. cognitive ability, aptitude, and self-esteem) are intervening in career choices of young people. This raises difficulties for career guidance staff in ensuring equity and assisting pupils in making informed career choices that respond to employers’ needs, while satisfying individual predispositions and preferences.

The aim of this module is to understand how school-based career guidance combined with other forms of direct experience and contact with workplaces, can guide young people by giving them a realistic and practical understanding of working life. The scope of this work is limited to young people aged 25 and less, many of whom are in education or training. The analysis will map key stages of exposure to career guidance and evaluate relative importance of external and internal factors affecting career decisions at different stages of life course, with an emphasis on young age. It will map policy practice with respect to career guidance tools and forms of exposure to career guidance. A particular focus will be given on collecting practices that promote workplace learning as a career guidance tool. The work will describe existing approaches, discuss policy challenges and distil policy messages.

Key steps

A workshop took place in Scotland (UK) in autumn 2016 and a discussion paper was shared with participants. The workshop provided an opportunity to discuss evidence about exposure and access to career guidance among youth and about the drivers and influences of career guidance. It also allowed participants to share experience about practices and innovative approaches to career guidance and identify areas for potential action. A policy report drawing together the analysis and conclusions from the workshop was subsequently published in July 2018. A PowerPoint presentation and a blog post were also released: Students need good career guidance, and here’s how schools can give it.  Anthony Mann, Project Lead, presents the policy report - watch the video here

Examples of policy questions explored

  • How to link work-based learning and career guidance?
  • How do different influences and drivers affect young people’s career choices? How can these be used in the provision of career guidance?
  • How to ensure that career guidance is based on up-to-date and accurate labour market information?
  • How can career guidance respond to rapidly changing working environment and skill requirements? How to offer career guidance that teaches to navigate in the changing work environment? 
  • What might be the challenges with respect to reaching different types of youth? Which career guidance tools work best in reaching disadvantaged youth?

See also:




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How the work is being conducted

Papers and reports

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