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Essential skills at the heart of careers education, new CEC report shows

Skills Builder Partnership has welcomed the Careers & Enterprise Company’s latest annual report, showing the state of the nation of careers education in England: "Careers Education 2022/23: Now & Next". 

Skills Builder’s Founder & CEO, Tom Ravenscroft, commented, “this report comes as the Careers & Enterprise Company celebrates its tenth anniversary and shows the power of the sustained partnership working which is transforming careers education. Progress against the Gatsby Benchmarks of excellent practice continue to show improvement – but the exciting part is improvement outcomes for young people in England”. 

Essential skills are a critical component of a full careers education – ensuring that young people are not only aware of their options and the paths to get there but are positioned to capitalise on their knowledge and technical skills when it comes to moving into employment. 

Skills Builder and the Careers & Enterprise Company have worked in partnership for more than five years. This new report uses the Universal Framework to track more than 100,000 learners’ essential skills and is building a powerful national picture of where there is progress, and where there is more to do.

Essential skills expectations 

The Future Skills Questionnaire which underpins this report sets clear expectations for essential skills at each age. As learners rate themselves against these expectations we can see that while there is progress, there is work to do to close the gap across their time in secondary school and college:

Source: Future Skills Questionnaire (FSQ), 2022/23 academic year 

The Future Skills Questionnaire has shown that while most students rate their own essential skills positively, there is variance in how students rate each essential skill and variation by secondary year. By Year 11, students feel more confident in their ability to stay positive and creativity skills than in their leadership ability or listening skills. 

Source: Insight briefing: Student career readiness in 2022/23, Careers & Enterprise Company. Year 11.


mployer outreach is having a positive impact on closing skills gaps. The CEC reports that over two thirds (66%) of employers completing the standards reported that their outreach improved young people’s essential employability skills. Young people are also experiencing a difference in skill levels by Years 10 and 11, in part due to engaged employer engagement. 

Employer engagement is hugely valuable so it’s great to see employers really stepping up here to invest in essential skills development as part of careers education. 

Source: CEC Now report: Employer Standards Self-Assessments, Apr-Sep 2023 (All employers n=342)

Continued efforts are needed to ensure every young person is building essential skills across their education. But looking forward, we are encouraged to see essential skills at the heart of CEC's ambitions and will continue to work closely with them to deliver on these aspirations. With collective impact, it can be done. 

Tom Ravenscroft reflected, “there is much in this report that is credit to the work of the Careers & Enterprise Company team, their partners across the country, and the thousands of Careers Leaders and teachers who are creating this impact in classrooms. We are excited to continue the vital work together to ensure that a good education equips every learner with the essential skills to thrive in the classroom, their careers, and the rest of their lives.”

  • Educators wanting to support students to build these vital workplace skills, visit:
  • Employers ready to play an active role in providing opportunities for young people, visit