Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Careers guidance ‘aspiration gap’

A new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission looking at careers education and guidance shows there is an aspiration gap for some young people and identifies specific barriers facing different groups.

The report provides strong evidence that careers education and guidance affects the aspirations, subject, career choices and future pay and progression for different groups of young people.

The Commission’s review of equality “How Fair is Britain?” demonstrated that one of the drivers for positive equality outcomes is good quality careers education and guidance.

But evidence in this new report shows that the influence of careers education and guidance is weak at present. It shows that provision varies due to confusing requirements, weak inspection and insufficient teacher training.

The report indicates that careers education and guidance is failing some young people, particularly disabled people, women and ethnic minorities, either because it doesn’t meet their needs or does not effectively challenge stereotypical thinking.

As a result, some industries have skills shortages, for example through women not choosing to study science, technology, engineering or maths subjects.

It says that more work needs to be done to ensure that the high aspirations evident among so many young people, particularly those from ethnic minorities, are not dampened by fear of discrimination and by disadvantage.
The report recommends that:

  • schools be required to ensure all students get careers education that raises aspirations and addresses equality issues;
  • career education should start in primary school to tackle inequalities;
  • the education sector works closer with parents and with businesses, so that students have a genuine idea of the career paths available to them;
  • careers education and guidance is inspected, so that progress can be properly monitored and its effectiveness measured against choices, progression and post-school destinations for different groups.

These recommendations mirror those made by the Commission in its submission to the Government on the Education Bill.

Alan Christie, Director of Policy, for the Commission said:

“Good careers and education guidance, built on an understanding of different and specific needs, can be influential in changing lives. Raising the ambitions and skills of young people could also help work places recruit from a wider pool of talent.

“Schools should have statutory duty to secure independent, impartial careers support for pupils, as in the Education Bill, but we also want there to be a requirement to challenge stereotypes and raise aspirations for different groups of pupils.”


For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.

For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.

Notes to editors

Download: All things being equal? Equality and Diversity in careers education, information, advice and guidance (PDF)

The evidence based report focuses on young people across the equality strands, including gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and groups including Gypsy, Roma and Travellers (GRT), young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) and teenage mothers. The research also looks at how socio-economic status affects aspirations and achievement. The evidence includes a review of data and literature and interviews with careers services, employers and other stakeholders. The research was carried out by the University of Derby’s International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Education Bill

Read the Commission’s parliamentary briefing on the Education Bill

The Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

The PPM Benchmarking Report 2019...find out more and download now...