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Careers advisors give schools more confidence in helping students

ACER news 5 minute read

A survey of Australian schools has found most were guiding students in preparing for future employment, but those with dedicated careers advisors were more confident in meeting students’ needs.

Researchers from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) drew on responses from 259 secondary schools from the first wave of the GENERATION longitudinal study that is tracking the experiences and aspirations of more than 26,000 students.

They found that 95% of schools overall employed careers advisors and more than 70% included visits to or from universities in their efforts to help students make decisions about their next steps into further study or the workplace.

While showing 5% of schools overall did not have dedicated careers advisors, more government schools (7.1%) and schools in regional areas (8.9%) relied on ‘all teachers’ to be responsible for careers guidance. This compared with just 1.9% of private schools.

Asked how confident they were in their ability to meet student needs for advice about future study and career options, 43.5% of metropolitan schools and 39.8% of regional schools indicated they were ‘very confident’.

For schools with dedicated careers advisors, 20.5% indicated they were ‘completely confident’ they could meet students’ needs, while among schools that did not employ careers advisors, there were none that were this assured.

The data story also provides information on the range of support given to students to prepare for their future. It includes university staff visiting schools to provide course information, students visiting campuses and mentor programs.

In most schools, students had access to ‘one-to-one’ advice on the financial support available for further study.

The value to students of guidance on study and employment options is highlighted in the Australian Government’s Future Ready National Career Education Strategy.

‘High quality career education builds resilient individuals who can adapt to the evolving nature of work and manage multiple careers in their lifetime, according to their circumstances and needs,’ it notes.

A focus on school leavers comes in the context of a report by the Australian Government Productivity Commission showing the number of students who left school in years 10 to 12 was the highest in 10 years.

It is based on data from 2022, the same year that GENERATION connected with a nationally representative sample of year 10 students.

The first wave of surveys included looking at the career expectations of these 15- and 16-year-old students and their post-school plans as well as getting schools’ feedback on their activities to help students explore options.

Annual surveys are expected to occur until the students are 25; researchers will soon have access to data from wave 2 of the study looking at student experiences in year 11 and whether post-school plans have changed.  

Wave 3 surveys are currently underway, gathering insights from the students who are now 17 or 18 years old.


More information

The GENERATION study is conducted by Australian National University (ANU), ACER and the Social Research Centre (SRC) on behalf of the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Read the research by Kylie Hillman and Dr Dan Edwards: Careers education in Australian schools: Who has access?

Read what year 10 students had to say in the first wave of surveys.

Visit the GENERATION website.

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