80,000 Hours visits Number 10


In December, Will and I had the opportunity to visit Number 10 Downing St. to meet with policy advisors to discuss government policy on careers advice.

After the meeting, we wrote up a policy paper on how we think nationwide careers advice can be improved.

Below, you can find the executive summary.


Improving careers advice: executive summary

We are impressed with the Government’s efforts to invest in careers advice. The National Careers Service (NCS) is a success in terms of its rapid development, huge reach and high user satisfaction ratings. However, we think more can be done to improve the quality of careers advice in the UK. Careers advice has more potential to enable people to find meaningful work and contribute to a flourishing society. In this report, we outline some of the ways we think careers advice could be improved, which we believe also apply to the NCS.

In summary:

  1. A large amount of high-quality information is available to job seekers, but it’s overwhelming and difficult to digest. This could be improved by providing simpler, high-level, strategic information and advice both online and in-person. For instance, advice could highlight skills that are particularly in-demand, inform people about the importance of keeping their options open, and group opportunities into ‘career paths’ rather than hundreds of disconnected job profiles.
  2. The social and economic contribution of a wide range of different careers could be highlighted, helping more people to find more meaningful work and make a larger contribution to society.
  3. If presented effectively, there’s a significant amount of additional information about careers that could be highly useful to job seekers, which isn’t already available. For instance, many job seekers struggle to develop a vivid picture of what different jobs are like day-to-day, and there’s very little information available about career progression prospects or job satisfaction within different roles.

We propose the establishment of a Careers Advice Development Project, to develop and test new content for careers advising, and a Careers Research Trust, to provide data to develop careers advice and fund research into the crucial questions facing job seekers. For a fraction of the total cost, these projects have the potential to multiply the total impact of the NCS.

Read the full paper.