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Does Early Career Guidance lead to Higher Pay? Yes!

I recently read a blog from Director of Policy and Research, Education and Employers Taskforce at OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Education Today, Anthony Mann.

I have summarised the main conclusions from recent research on providing better information and guidance for students on how to aim for particular careers.

Many education policy makers encourage employers to ‘engage’ with the world of education, and for schools and colleges to introduce students to the world of work and to career options.

However, actual research is falling behind such encouragement. Now Elnaz Kashefpakdel and Chris Percy had written a paper showing the positive relationship between learning about Jobs and Careers while at school, and how much those students earn after leaving school and through their work life.

The writers looked at existing research papers, primarily a 2014 study that used a sample of 1000 19-24 year olds and found links between how much they were paid, and their (recalled) experience job or career guidance and information from school.

They add to that, current analyses form the British Cohort Study (BCS70) which s tracking 17,000 individuals and started in 1986.

The BCS70 has much more data and allows more accurate statistical analysis, to find where specifically it was job and career guidance that makes the difference in future pay levels.

IN the 1980s more students had to attend career talks and similar sessions, partly because of the governments Technical and Vocational Education Initiative (TVEI).

Students’ opinions about those sessions were compared with their salary levels by age 26. Statistics show an average of 0.8% higher salaries for those who attended career sessions at age 14 – 15. Career talks for older children did NOT show that positive relationship.

Students who said they found the career sessions at age 14-15 ‘very helpful’ showed an average of 1.6% (twice as high) higher earnings per session they attended than those who did not find the session helpful. Those who had such sessions at age 15-16 and found them helpful had an increase of .9% per session compared with average salary.

In the words of the OECD report “These findings provide a clear relationship between the number of career talks attended, and their helpfulness, and relative earnings at age 26. This provides a solid evidence-base for increasing the volume and quality of career talks with outside speakers in education.”

The writer goes on to speculate why Career Sessions at age of 14-15 would have more impact than at age15-16, but there is no statistical support for those possibilities.

I am fascinated on speculation too: why do employers (unwittingly) pay consistently higher wages to that group.

Can we assume that it is because they are getting higher value work from those individuals?

From that, can we deduce that students who had a career information and guidance and found it helpful are better aligned with the work they chose to do? And so they do the work better. Preference and alignment lead to performance.

For more information on Career Guidance for students and Professionals, lean more at

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