Professions Week 2014

Less than half of 14-24 year olds receive useful careers advice

10 November 2014

Fran EdwardsProfessions Week research reveals that parents also need more help with careers guidance for their children

New research released today, to mark the start of Professions Week, shows that parents and young people do not feel that they have access to useful careers advice and that more needs to be done to help young people make informed choices about going into a career as a professional.

Professions Week is an initiative set up by 15 of the UK’s leading professional bodies including, from the legal profession, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA).

The research, which surveyed 2,448 14-24 year olds and their parents, shows that whilst there are high levels of awareness about different professional jobs, some young people have low aspirations due to lack of good quality careers advice offered to them and their parents.

Only half of 14-24 year olds in the last year have had a careers conversation with a teacher or careers advice professional and of those who had careers advice only 79% found it useful which highlights that only 40% received careers advice that they felt was useful.

While, the majority of parents are happy to give their children careers advice (86%), of those that didn’t, the most common reason was that they didn’t know enough (60%). Many who did give advice felt that the biggest challenge was that their children did not believe them or were not interested. As one surveyed mother said: “The variety of jobs and career opportunities is so different these days with all the technology, I don’t know enough about all of the career options available, and don’t understand what a lot of the jobs entail.”

Sarah Hathaway, chair of Professions Week, commented: “This is the second year we have researched perceptions of professional careers and it shows that we must still do more to make sure that both young people and their parents receive better careers advice and guidance. Professional bodies can help by providing accurate information for careers advisors and online sources, however there is a need for a coordinating role between individual advisors, their schools and colleges, professional bodies and employers.”

Frances Edwards (pictured), president of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) said: “Today’s research shows that we, the professions, need to do more to ensure that quality careers advice is delivered to young people, their parents and teachers.

Frances continued: “CILEx is proud to be supporting Professions Week for the second year and our team of regional development officers will this week be visiting schools, colleges and universities across England and Wales to inform those young people about the CILEx route. Working in law is accessible to all and we will continue to champion the vocational route into law that CILEx has offered for more than 50 years.”

Lee Davies, chief executive of CIPA, said: “In 2012 I wrote a white paper challenging professional bodies to come together and address fair access to the professions. Professions Week was the result and I am delighted that, as we enter the second Professions Week, more professional bodies have joined the campaign to open up professional careers to all young people regardless of social or economic background.”

The research also showed that gender stereotypes might be stronger amongst parents than their children. Parents of girls were significantly more likely to say that their child would be likely to want to be a learning and development, or communications professional and less likely to note an interest in becoming an engineering or construction professional (the opposite of those with male children).

For a copy of the full report, please visit

Other key findings included:

  • 14-24 year olds from lower socio-economic groups had lower awareness, aspirations and expectations of becoming a professional and were slightly less likely to think that more support would make a positive difference
  • Between a fifth to over a third of 14-18 year olds, 19-24 year olds and parents thought that they/ their child would be more likely to be able to become a professional with more support (except for construction),
  • Only 45% of 14-24 year olds from lower socio-economic groups thought they would probably go to university, in contrast to 83% of their higher socio-economic counterparts
  • 46% of 14-18 year olds have had a careers advice conversation in the last 12 months which they considered useful (similar to the previous year), in contrast to only 31% of 19-24 year olds
  • Perceptions of life as a professional were generally positive (typically a fifth to a third of each group were neutral and minority expressed more negative views)
  • The weight of perception tended towards life as a professional being exciting, offering freedom how and when you do your tasks, greater earnings