Career Guidance photo for school blog

Career Guidance and Life Skills fall short at school…

All recruiters, whatever their sector or geography, are fighting the skills shortage every day.  The frustration is magnified by the fact there are idle hands, but their skills and preparedness for the world of work simply falls short….

We recently sat around the Recruitment South East offices and pondered what‘s got us here. One issue we’ve all noticed is we see many school leavers simply not ready for the world of work – Rather than blame them and throw in the line “Oh the youth of today” – we thought it might be useful to understand what’s happening with their education, so we commissioned a survey to collect the thoughts of parents, pupils and teachers across East Sussex. The results were a mix of positive and not so…

Positive Outcomes

  • Much to our pleasant surprise, negative views about teachers totalled only 13%.
  • Views on the teaching of subjects were dominated by the strongest being Maths, English and (another surprise) Sport.
  • “Only” 25% of respondents were negative about education overall – but perhaps there’s a debate to be had about that being a high figure given the importance of education to our children’s futures.

Negative Outcomes

  • Career Guidance was seen as the worse individual subject matter in the school timetable, closely followed by Life Skills and Languages. The fact they’re the worst didn’t surprise us, but the degree by which they are considered the worst did catch us off-balance.
  • 31% of respondents had a negative view about Head Teachers. That’s much worse than teachers and is perhaps reflective of the high number of head vacancies across the county.


  • As recruiters, the issues that spin around Career Guidance and Life Skills concern us. We often discuss these issues with local employers, but here’s a snapshot that seems to confirm and substantiate what people (that’s employers, parents and pupils) say to us.
  • The fact that Maths and English are well regarded is welcome, but allied that to the results on career and life skills, perhaps we can see a focus on exam results for their own sake, rather delivering an education that can be applied to a life of work beyond school.
  • We understand those who took the survey weren’t a scientifically representative sample, but the trends stayed consistent as we gathered them in, so we reckon we’re not too far off the mark overall. However, it’s worth noting that the overall results are a collection of averages, but we did spot wide variations between individual respondents – this suggests that standards and values vary school to school and that there’s less sharing of best practice around East Sussex than we might expect.
  • Perhaps we get the students we deserve. We shouldn’t just leave all the responsibility at teachers and schools. We all have a part to play, and that includes employers.

These results add objectivity to a debate that’s often subjective and seen through our own individual narrow perspectives. In some cases, the results raise new questions, but we have to start somewhere.

We Ask

Our immediate plea is simply that Careers Guidance is given a higher profile than it’s had to date. That doesn’t equate to spending more money, but more about making sure those who provide it have an informed view of the world of work, as it will become – not as it was.

It might be useful to dig further into our conclusions, but we’d like some feedback first from those who have a view (email to

Results in Summary

Q1: Are you generally satisfied with education provided in East Sussex ?

Positive:                        69%

Neutral                            5%

Negative                        25%

Q2: Best 3 subjects taught ?

Maths                            50%

English                          46%

Sport                             36%

Q3: Worse 3 subjects taught ?

Career Guidance              2%

Languages                       7%

Life Skills                        7%

Q4: Balance between children from different ability streams ?: 40% “about right”

Q5: Satisfied with Teachers?

Positive:                        71%

Neutral                          16%

Negative                        13%

Q5: Satisfied with Heads?

Positive:                        47%

Neutral                          22%

Negative                        31%

(About the Survey: This survey commissioned by Recruitment South East to gather some insights on education in East Sussex and it’s impact on career development. This is not wholly a scientific survey and was completed by 65 people, but the answers were consistent and didn’t change much after the first 20 responses. The designer is experienced at trying to avoid biased questioning. A more complete survey view is available by emailing