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'Career advice to minorities trapped in stereotypes'

POOR ADVICE: Many young people from minority communities not getting the help they need

CAREERS ADVICE given to people from minority communities has been slammed as “weak” by Britain’s equalities watchdog.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (ECHR), is demanding that schools and other key authorities do more to offer career advice that raises aspirations and addresses inequality.

A recent ECHR report shows 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.”

This is a criticism that has often been made by education campaigners who have been vocal in their criticisms of the career advice that is given to African Caribbean pupils.

Groups like Parents Against Racism have claimed in the past that teachers routinely ignore the ambitions of young black people.

In its report called All Things Being Equal? Equality And Diversity In Careers Education, the ECHR shows career advice and guidance “varies due to confusing requirements, weak inspection and insufficient teacher training. As a result, some industries have skills shortages, for example through women not choosing to study science, technology, engineering or maths subjects.”

The ECHR said “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.”

It said schools should be required to ensure all students get careers education that raise aspirations and address equality issues; that career education should start in primary school to tackle inequalities; that the education sector must work more closely with parents and with businesses, so that students have a genuine idea of the career paths available to them and that “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.”

Alan Christie, director of policy for the Commission said in a statement “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 workplaces 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.”

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