School-leavers at disadvantage

Dr Benjamin Hopkins from the School of Management and Business

Dr Benjamin Hopkins from the School of Management and Business

21 May 2014

Recent research into youth unemployment has highlighted that changes to the careers advice system within secondary schools had created a service with “profound gaps”.

Research by Dr Benjamin Hopkins from the School of Management and Business at Aberystwyth, in collaboration with Professor Melanie Simms of the University of Leicester and Dr Sophie Gamwell of Middlesex University, found that changes to the careers advice system could be putting school-leavers at a disadvantage in both the national and international jobs market.

Some schools are even directing their students to websites to undertake their own research.

Using data collected from 92 interviews with young people, business managers and careers advice professionals, the researchers found that the transition of responsibility from local authorities to schools had weakened the provision of careers advice. 

Young people were instead found to take advice from friends, family and youth workers, with these young people sometimes being told to look at websites rather than being given face-to-face careers advice at school.

Simms, Hopkins and Gamwell have researched widely on youth transitions into employment, such as in the report Skills for Sustainable Employment ( 

Dr Benjamin Hopkins explains; “In the particular case of Wales, we investigated the potential for entrepreneurship to aid in reducing youth unemployment.  The Welsh Assembly Government has developed a Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy, the aim of which is to “boost young people’s entrepreneurial confidence”. 

“The rate of early stage entrepreneurship in Wales is 4.3%, as compared to the UK average of 3.4%.  However, in rural areas, such as mid and north Wales, the lack of employment opportunities sometimes leads these young people into self-employment as a necessity rather than optimum choice.”

The findings of the research were presented at the 2014 British Sociological Association annual conference on Friday 25 April at the University of Leeds.

A press release issued by the The British Sociological Association on the research is available here.