What employers should know about careers advisers

  • Emma Finamore
  • 19 March 2019

Careers advisers are one of the key groups employers should engage with, in order to promote their apprenticeship programmes to school leavers. We reveal some key insights into this group.

When it comes to promoting apprenticeship programmes in schools, it can be easy to treat all staff the same. But careers advisers are a very different group to teachers—our research has given us specific insights into their knowledge and attitudes.


The facts


Careers advisers are a key part of the overall picture when it comes to promoting apprenticeship programmes within schools. In terms of their knowledge around apprenticeships, our research shows careers advisers have high levels of understanding.


Around 80%-90% of them were able to identity the qualifications that all four different levels of apprenticeship are equivalent to: higher than subject teachers or head teachers.


So we know this group is keenly aware of, and receptive to, information about apprenticeship programmes—and our research says they want to hear from employers, all year round. So they’re also receptive to information about your programmes. Nearly three quarters of careers advisers told us that it doesn’t matter when you contact them in term time to get in touch with offering your events and resources.


Careers advisers have the ear of the most influential group on school leavers’ career decisions: parents. Almost half of parents say they want to use, and already use, meetings with careers advisers to find information—as the most influential group on school leavers, employers should make the most of this indirect way of engaging with parents.


Engagement from employers is also a statutory obligation: it forms part of the Gatsby Benchmarks (Number 5: ‘Encounters with employers and employees’), which were recently endorsed by central government when they were included as a central part of the Education Strategy 2018.


The most popular method for giving careers advice remains one-to-one sessions, although the number of careers advisers holding careers events within schools or colleges has risen slightly. Careers magazines are losing favour as online methods continue to grow.


How to engage with careers advisers


Over 95% of careers advisers use careers websites to stay aware of all their students’ options, so if you want to connect with this key group definitely consider using careers sites to do so.


Receiving emails/newsletters from useful resources is also very popular, with 95% of careers advisers using this to stay aware of their students’ options. Recruiters advertising their programmes on websites that also offer a mail-out service would ensure a high number of careers advisers are exposed to the information.


However, there’s still room for face-to-face engagement: 88.4% of careers advisers stay up-to-date by attending events. The main factor to be aware of when it comes to engaging with careers advisers and their students face-to-face is that few schools have large budgets—in fact, most have very little to spend.


The average budget per pupil with regard to careers information, advice and guidance, according to our research, is just under £6. Therefore, external careers services offered to schools need to be done so at an absolute minimum charge or for free. A day visit to an employer's office will cost a school in transportation and other associated costs such as lunch. This means it’s worth considering arranging to visit schools rather than inviting pupils to workplace-engagement events.


Print media is still important to careers advisers too—more so than with school leavers themselves or their parents—so if employers with limited budgets are going to promote apprenticeship programmes this way, it’s worth focusing on materials directed at this specific group.


Targeting different year groups


We asked careers advisers to provide an overview of careers advice throughout each of the key stages. Use these results to identify the most effective methods of engaging with your target age group through their careers advisers.


Y8/Y9: General careers appointment/GCSE options appointment—future career plans, education preferences, skillset, current subjects (students will leave knowing what subject suites will be most appropriate for them, and knowledge of their future career).


Y10: Initial Needs Analysis appointment—previous experience, future career plans, education preferences, current subjects, skillset, general careers information.


Y10/Y11/Y12/Y13: CV writing appointment—CV writing skills, previous experience, future career plans (students will leave with a fully completed CV and potentially cover letter).


Y11/Y13: Post-16/post-18 progression appointments—future career plans, education preferences, predicted grades, importance of back-up plans (student will leave having a clear idea of a plan to pursue).


Y10/Y11/Y12/Y13: Job/apprenticeship application appointment—application writing skills, previous experience (students will apply for roles while with careers advisers, or competent careers advisers will prepare them so they can apply at home).


Y10/Y11/Y12/Y13: Mock interview appointment—previous experience, interview skills, future career plans (students will have a mock interviews with careers advisers).


So, for example, if an employer offering a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship wants to target young people who are also applying to university, they could offer information on their programmes to careers advisers preparing for post-18 progression appointments—their apprenticeship schemes can be a part of the conversation alongside university options.


For more detailed research on careers advisers, what they think about apprenticeship programmes and the methods employers should consider when reaching out to them, visit the AllAboutResearch research hub.


Top Insights


  • Careers advisers want to hear from employers, all year round.
  • Over 95% of careers advisers use careers websites to stay up-to-date on all their students’ options.
  • 88.4% of careers advisers stay up-to-date by attending events.
  • Almost half of parents use meetings with careers advisers to find information.
  • Print products are important to careers advisers, for use in school.