The Social Market Foundation (SMF) revealed that young people studying at schools in wealthier areas were directed towards higher education while children studying in less affluent places were advised to head towards vocational careers instead.
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The think tank said making careers provision fairer across the country is essential for the government to achieve its levelling up goals.
“Socially-patterned careers guidance means that people are steered towards different routes according to wealth, not talent or aptitude,” said Niamh O Regan, researcher at the SMF. “That risks entrenching inequality and social division, instead of making sure that all routes are open to everyone, regardless of their background.”
The SMF report, titled ‘Fulfilling its Potential?’, found that university remains the default option for parents and teachers when identifying career paths for students.
To make other options more visible for young people, SMF called for apprenticeship opportunities to be listed alongside university choices on the UCAS application website.