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PublicationsIndex of systematic review topicsKnowledge pagesCEG
Careers education and guidance
This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI-Centre

Two reviews investigated careers education and guidance: one looked at effects on transitions from Key Stage (KS) 3 to KS 4,[1] and the other on transitions from KS4 to post-16 opportunities.[2]

Career-related learning and skills
General CEG provision
Individual guidance
Provision of information
Timing of provision
Different groups of young people
The importance of people
Delivery skills

Career-related learning and skills

  • The level of young people's career-related skills seems to be an important factor in their transition at 16, with those with a high level of skills being less likely to modify choices or switch courses.[2]
  • Career exploration skills and self-awareness skills seem to be the most important of the career-related skills in terms of their impact on transition at 16.[2] Young people seem more able to identify their strengths and weaknesses where they have taken part in a school curriculum that had enabled them to develop confidence.[1]
  • The integration of career education programmes with guidance provision and with the wider curriculum may be a key factor in determining the effectiveness and impact of CEG on young people's skill development and transitions.[2]
  • Careers education and guidance (CEG) provision, such as individual interviews, groupwork sessions, access to career-related information and a wide range of work-related activities, appears to have a positive impact on the development of pupils' career-related skills.[2]
  • Young people might more effectively acquire the skills to use labour market information (LMI), and possibly other career-related information, through the use of practical activities, such as project work about careers that interest them.[2]

General CEG provision

  • There appear to be inconsistencies in the quality of CEG provision and providers, with the quality varying from school to school.[1],[2] Provision is more effective in schools which have a good written policy on CEG covering each of the Key Stages, linked to the school development plan, and a planned programme of CEG provided by designated staff who have received proper training and support.[1] 
  • Partnership working, both within school (i.e. between departments) and between the school and other agencies and organisations, can affect CEG provision, to the benefit of the pupils.[2]
  • CEG interventions, timetables and tools appear to be more effective if they are flexibly designed to meet the needs of individual young people, or specific groups of young people, rather than the needs of the organisation and its (and others') systems.[2]

Individual guidance

  • Good-quality individual career guidance is important in the development of learning outcomes, such as career-related skills, especially opportunity awareness, career exploration and decision-making skills. There is evidence that young people would like more help with their career decision-making.[2]
  • Young people's perceptions of how good career guidance is may be contingent upon whether they make substantive progress towards reaching a conclusion, or resolving a dilemma, during their career interview(s).[2]
  • Young people seem to benefit from help from those providing guidance in setting a wider context within which to make their career decisions.[2]

Provision of information

  • In KS 3, it is important that students are given information about the career implications of their chosen courses for KS4. Time needs to be spent helping students at KS 3 to identify and apply their individual strengths and aptitudes to subject choices.[1]
  • Access to information about post-16 options is important to the development of young people's learning outcomes, but provision of such information is patchy. Young people would like to receive more information about courses, jobs and careers, especially through the workplace and contacts with working people.[2]
  • Care needs to be taken in the design of career information to ensure that it is seen as relevant and appropriate by its target audience.[2] Computer programmes such as Real Game and DISCOVER have produced positive learning outcomes for KS 3 students.[1]
  • Some types of career information may be more useful to young people in deciding what course or training programme to choose, rather than in deciding whether to remain in education. Sufficient information should be provided for both purposes.[2] 
  • LMI might be more effective if it were presented in a range of formats and used successively in a variety of ways and by a variety of deliverers, including within the curriculum. It is likely to be more effective when it includes information that interests young people, including information on equal opportunities.[2]
  • There seems to be a need to increase the amount of career-related information available and to ensure that it provides a more 'cosmopolitan' picture (i.e. one which goes well beyond young people's own locally-based knowledge of options and occupations).[2]

Timing of provision

  • There is evidence that, while career advice and guidance is often seen as playing an important part in young people's decisions about the future, they would find it more useful to receive career guidance earlier in their school career. [1],[2] This might help to raise pupils' awareness of subject-related careers and to counteract external influences such as peer pressure, which are very strong by Year 11, when post-16 choices are made.[2] 
  • Best practice was found in schools which had a timetabled allocation of 50 minutes a week for each of Years 9, 10 and 11.[1]
  • The demands of the school option-choice system put pressure on the timings and outcomes of careers adviser interview programmes and on pupils to make up their minds early in the year.[2]
  • Young people planning to stay in education appear more likely to have made this decision by the end of Year 10, so may benefit from earlier interventions. Those planning to enter the labour market at age 16 tend to make the decision later; they might benefit from a higher level of CEG intervention during Year 11.[2]

Different groups of young people

  • CEG provision appears to have the greatest impact on pupils of moderate or higher ability in schools with lower or average achievement, typically without sixth forms.[2]
  • Additional CEG provision, tailored to meet the needs of young people identified as being 'at risk', and delivered by those with appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes, can have a significant impact on young people's learning outcomes and can help them to prepare for post-16 transitions.[2]
  • Socio-economic background is an important factor that modifies the effect of CEG. For example, students in schools in areas of high urban deprivation may not have a positive attitude towards guidance, even where a significant amount of effort had gone into raising opportunity awareness and developing transition skills.[1]
  • Gender stereotyping is also a predictor of young peoples' interest in particular careers.[1] 

The importance of people

  • There is some evidence that individual subject and other teachers have an influence upon the choices made by young people both outside and within school, though this varies with different groups.[2]
  • Young people appear to value the involvement of people in the provision of career information, seeing them as more important and/or more helpful than written sources of information.[2]
  • Parents are seen as a key source of information and influence upon a young person's career choices. Evidence suggests that both career education and the support of parents are important to help young people through the transition process.[1],[2] However, the skills and experience of parents are rarely used in CEG programmes.[1]

Delivery skills

  • There is evidence to suggest that careers advisers need access to systematic training designed to ensure that their occupational knowledge is kept up-to-date.  For example, training appears to be needed for those using LMI with young people, especially where it is being used within the curriculum.[2] There are not enough suitably qualified teachers of careers education.[1]
  • In order to work effectively with young people 'at risk', workers need to have, or to develop, a set of appropriate skills and approaches.[2]
  • Practitioners need to have and to use skills that will help young people to widen their views of the options open to them and provide them with strategies to counter the socio-economic factors and the social and cultural constraints that impact upon them, and increase their self-confidence and self-esteem.[2]


1.A systematic review of recent research (1988 - 2003) into the impact of careers education and guidance on transitions from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4  (2004)

2. A systematic literature review of research (1988 - 2004) into the impact of career education and guidance during Key Stage 4 on young people's transitions into post-16 opportunities  (2005)

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