Career development activities result in ‘positive attitudes towards schooling’

7 December 2016


Young people who take part in school-mediated career development activities are more likely to have a positive attitude towards schooling, new international research has found.

A new report by Dr Elnaz T. Kashefpakdel, Dr Anthony Mann and Matteo Schleicher provides an overview of the impact of career development activities on young people’s perception of schooling across six different countries.

The findings come from analysis of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA study. This study represents one of the world’s most valuable resources for understanding how the academic abilities of young people (in terms of reading, mathematics and problem-solving skills) vary between and within countries and how variations in results can be linked to the different backgrounds and experiences of the students. Undertaken every three years, over 500,000 students from 65 countries and regions took part in the 2012 PISA survey.

The 2012 PISA survey asked a series of questions which explored teenage participation in career development activities and subsequent attitudes towards schooling. In the report, four activities were analysed:

  • Internships
  • Job Fairs
  • Job Shadowing, and
  • Speaking with a Careers Advisor in school.

Only a minority of countries taking part in PISA 2012 opted into these questions and of these six were selected for analysis (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Ireland). UK students were not asked to respond to these questions.

The report revealed that there is a strong, statistically significant relationship between young people participating in career development activities and their resulting positive perception of schooling.

Students who had taken part in the activities were more likely to agree that schooling was useful for later employment, and less likely to agree it was a waste of time.

Whilst this attitudinal change was demonstrated consistently across the six countries, it was teenagers in Finland and Ireland who demonstrated the greatest levels of responsiveness to participation in career activities. The report also found that the most consistent positive effects were found in relationship to speaking with a Careers Advisor in school and attending a Job fair.

Elnaz T. Kashefpakdel, Senior Research at Education and Employers said: “Consistent evidence in the results demonstrates that something meaningful happens as a result of taking part in career development activities. This takes the form of more positive attitudes towards schooling and the long term value of education. It would be reasonable to expect young people, in turn, to be more motivated which would then be translated into better academic attainment. This assumption will be tested in forthcoming analysis.”

Read the research report here.