Employers are in a strong position to provide school pupils with career knowledge and should play a greater role in the provision of advice, according to enterprise minister Matthew Hancock. He was speaking as part of a government guide to increase the links between schools and businesses, following the publication of new careers guidance for schools by the Department for Education.
The new guidance states that students should be "inspired and mentored by employers and business leaders" to pursue careers in fields where a skills and technology gap is currently opening up. In order to encourage this involvement, schools will be expected to establish mentoring and coaching links with businesses, as well as securing inspiring speakers and arranging workplace visits for pupils.
Expressing the important role that businesses have to play in the education of the next generation, Mr Hancock said: "To be successful in their future careers, young people need inspiration and mentoring as much as advice. This important guidance will encourage schools to help pupils develop high aspirations to realise their potential."
"Employers and those themselves in careers they love are best placed to pass on knowledge and enthusiasm to young people. That is why we are encouraging schools to build links with employers to ensure pupils leave school with the skills employers need."
Among the groups to welcome the new guidance was the 157 Group, which represents the country's most influential further education colleges. Lynne Sedgmore, its executive director, said that the move will help ensure that students receive less variability in the quality of their careers guidance provisions.
"We wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that pupils in schools will be inspired by the presence of employers and other role models in this work, and this guidance offers schools some helpful ideas about how best to achieve this," she said.
Ms Sedgmore cited research from City & Guilds which indicates that the majority of school pupils are keen for more contact with real employers.