Young people are set to benefit from more meaningful opportunities to develop their career education in a changing and challenging employment market. With schools taking on the challenge of making this a reality for young learners, the Oxford University Careers Service in collaboration with Trinity College, Oxford, are excited to be able to take part in and assist with this challenge.
Oxford Opportunity North and Litmus
Oxford Opportunity North is an unprecedented programme offering maintained sector schools in the North of England a range of programmes, free of charge, with the aim of helping improve outcomes for students from Year 7 to Year 13. Delivered by the region’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships, the programme encourages school students to enjoy, reflect on, and relish the challenge of thinking about themselves, their prospective choices, and the world of work.
To determine the success of the programme, we have tailored one of the information collection tools that we use at Oxford, Litmus, for schools, to find out more about students’ career plans post-school and about the industry sectors in which they are interested.
A study was carried out in June-July 2021 and focused on Year 10 and Year 11 students at 28 schools across the North East.
The Opportunity North East (ONE) programme significantly improved pupils’ career planning and engagement – more than any other factor such as gender, parental graduate status or ethnicity which have traditionally been shown to be the most significant influences on the career aspirations of children.
The study found a statistically significant difference between pupils on the ONE programme and those not on the ONE programme in terms of their careers knowledge. 42% on the ONE programme state “I feel very well supported with Careers” v. 25% for other pupils, and 50% on the programme state they feel they have “enough experience and knowledge to make the choices,” v. 35% of non-ONE programme pupils.
With regard to pupils’ industry interests, these were found to mirror the national picture and are quite strongly gender-divided with girls favouring healthcare, beauty and hair, education and social work, while boys are favouring engineering, construction, cars, and sports. Post-16 and post-18, boys are favouring apprenticeships or jobs while girls are favouring tertiary education.
Commenting on the results of the report, the Director of Oxford University’s Careers Service, Jonathan Black, said:
We are pleased to have been able to apply the Careers Service Litmus system for the benefit of pupils and schools in the North East. This exercise has shown the power of collaboration with colleagues at Trinity College, Oxford, our software suppliers gti, and in the DfE and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the region. The results have confirmed the positive effect the ONE programme has had, and point the way to even greater benefits if we were to roll this out more widely.