Tailored careers guidance crucial for young adult carers

7th October 2015

Young adult carers are twice as likely to be ‘not in education, employment or training’ as their peers. Recent research also shows that less than half (46%) thought they had received good careers advice and only one in five (19%) thought that it took their caring role into account. To provide better support for young adult carers, NIACE has worked with a number of partners and young adult carers to develop and pilot tailored resources and approaches to careers guidance. 


Together with Barnardo’s CareFree Carers Support Service in Leicestershire, Carers Trust Fylde Coast Carers’ Centre and Warwickshire Carers Support Service, NIACE has piloted and adapted a careers guidance tool to meet the needs of young adult carers. Value My Skills for Young Adult Carers is an interactive card game designed to help young adult carers think about their current skills, future career aspirations and potential skills gaps. The cards can be used by individuals or in a group with the help of a support worker, to start a discussion, plan for the future, and write job applications, letters, personal statements or university applications.


Young adult carers involved in the pilots felt empowered to take positive steps for the future, like starting traineeships, securing job interviews, finding work, or taking up volunteering. They also reported improved self-esteem and the confidence to seek out the support they needed in other areas of their lives. 


Chloe’s caring responsibilities were having a negative effect on both her A level studies and her mental health. With targeted 1:1 support from Warwickshire Young Carers Project, including involvement in the careers guidance pilot, courses and activities linked to the Value my Skills cards, Chloe’s self- esteem and confidence grew. The experience and skills she gained, as a result of the tailored support she received, enabled Chloe to secure a job as a youth worker.


Deb Bignell, Chief Executive at Warwickshire Carers Support Service, said:


“The young adult carers involved in our pilot gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about the Value My Skills cards. As a result, we will be incorporating this tool within our day to day work with carers from the age of 14, to help them identify their skills and those that need developing, so that they can achieve their career aspirations.”


Nicola Aylward, NIACE Head of Learning for Young People, said:


“Young adult carers are one of the most disadvantaged groups in our society. They experience high levels of poverty and isolation, and are often forced to drop out of learning due to the pressures of caring and lack of adequate support. For many, pathways to employment are blocked or limited.


“Our work shows that tailored support from trusted staff can empower young adult carers to identify the valuable skills they have developed as carers, and to begin planning for a future with ambition and aspiration. They are often mature, empathetic, organised, assertive and good communicators, all skills that they, and society, need to value. We must ensure that all young adult carers are given the opportunity to aim high and achieve their potential.”