School students need more career guidance
More than one in seven students beginning third-level courses this autumn will leave within their first year. It is traumatic for the individual student and their families as career dreams never even get to the starting gate.
It is also costly for the taxpayer and a big waste of scarce educational resources. While a certain amount of wastage at this level is inevitable, there is utterly no need for the proportion of drop-outs to be so high.
Much of the problem is caused by poor or sometimes even non-existent career advice from guidance counsellors. We live in a world where career opportunities are continually expanding.
But that opportunity is accompanied by a bewildering array of choices which require a great deal of information to ensure students make the right decisions. It is a very tough challenge to pose a youngster at a time when they face many other issues in their lives. They need all the support and guidance they can get.
We are indebted to the Institute of Guidance Counsellors for pointing out the shortcomings in the system within our second-level schools. None of us will be surprised to hear that, over the years of cutbacks since 2010, career guidance and counselling of students took more than its share of austerity and cuts.
It is young people from poorer backgrounds, or in difficult family settings, who are most vulnerable. People who are better off, or in cases where parents are committed and ambitious, are frequently better placed.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has shown the need for students to get effective counselling in the earlier years of secondary education to avoid such appalling waste of human talent and educational spending.