3 powerful actions for FE providers to ensure the success of college leavers

In the last term of college, many FE professionals worry about the undecided students who simply have no clue what to do next after the end of their education. 

As much as these young people need inspiration and guidance, what about the students who have great ambitious goals which are not in line with the current job market?

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) and Pearson conducted a joint research project to find the reason behind the current job market paradox:

Overall employment rates are now at their highest since records began, but youth unemployment, while down from recession peaks, is falling at a frustratingly slow pace. The number of reported job vacancies is actually greater than the number of 16 to 24 year olds who are out of work, so why is youth unemployment still so high?

In their final report, one of the key findings clearly indicates that there is the mismatch between young people’s career ambitions and the number of jobs available in particular sectors.

In other words, students are often realising too late that there simply are not enough jobs in certain industry sectors for them to pursue their ambitious career goals. Additionally, young people show little awareness of the changes that the job market is undergoing and therefore they rarely adjust their mindset and job hunting strategies.

What is it that FE professionals could communicate to young people to help them make more informed career choices?

1. The demands for specialists within certain professions fluctuate.

When choosing a certain career, often a very person-centred approach is adopted that helps young people to identify their strengths, weaknesses and preferences. That’s great!

However, these qualities, no matter how excellent and outstanding, should be always be evaluated in the context of job market demands.

For instance, in 2010/11 57,000 16-18 year olds achieved qualifications in hair and beauty for just 18,000 jobs advertised, whilst only 44,000 achieved construction qualifications set against 275,000 available jobs.

What happened to 39,000 hair and beauty therapists who could not find an opportunity and why so many young people were accepted to that course by FE Colleges despite the much lower market depends for specialists within this field will remain the mystery.

It is however clear that FE professionals need to check and update young people’s knowledge on trends of the current job market so that their career choice is not only based on their preferences but also the future prospects and demands.


Download the complete summary of the report published by The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), Pearson to gain an insight into current findings on job market and young people’s aspirations.

2. The current job market requires building and engaging with the network

The job market in which you develop a skill to then enhance it via a lifetime of work and progression within the same organisation is long gone. Nowadays with technology substituting certain human inputs, expectations of employers towards young people, needing to demonstrate a range of varied skills and the long queue for the progression ladder, the power lies within networking.

Reid Hoffman in his book “The Start-up of You” makes it very clear that since people control information, resources and opportunities, if you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for people.

Establishing solid contacts and building a professional branding should be a priority for your young people. Throughout the year, we work with a variety of FE students and on average in a classroom of 30 future young professionals, only 1 uses LinkedIn and ever been at a networking event!

Taking into consideration that LinkedIn last year hit 414 million members with currently 3 million active job listings, along with 94% of recruiters using LinkedIn to vet young talent, it hurts to think what young people are missing.

The ideal input here of the FE professional would be encouraging every student to spend time developing their LinkedIn profile through their College activities so that when the time comes to leave education, College leavers tap into their network to land the perfect job.


Download the summary of the “Start-up of you” book to gain an insight into the power of networking in the current job market.

3. Employers are really hiring for attitude and soft skills

According to a groundbreaking study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success.

But contrary to popular belief, technical skills are not the primary reason why new hires fail. Instead the study found that:

  • 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback
  • 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions
  • 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel
  • 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job
  • only 11% because they lack the necessary technical skills.

No wonder why employers spend more time and efforts on perfecting their hiring procedures to assess the attitude of young candidates by moving more towards application forms and assessment centres.

As an FE professional, you need to keep on track with recruitment methods and integrate them within your internal employability provision


Download the summary of the “Hiring for the Attitude” book to gain an insight into current trends within recruitment methods.

Written by K Mitura

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