The Association of Chartered Certificated Accountants (ACCA) has called for greater awareness to ensure that parents and schools in the UK explore all education options, and to remove what ACCA named a "university first" mind-set approach to career advice services.

An ACCA survey, which surveyed 1,000 parents of students aged from 15 to18, found that just 22% of them had received information about alternatives to university from their school or careers advice service.

The survey also found that 65% of parents said they were actively seeking to get their children into university, while only 36% said they wanted to send their children down the professional or vocational route.

In addition, some 73% of parents believed that a university career was the only way to a professional career.

ACCA said the findings are in line with a recent report of the governmental body Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), which found more than three quarters of schools failed to provide impartial careers guidance to pupils.

ACCA UK head Sarah Hathaway said parents’ over-reliance on universities had left their children unsuitable for the real world of work, with UK businesses "not necessarily finding" in graduates the "specific skills they need."

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Hathaway said that more must be done to "challenge the mind-set of UK parents and schools" who remain convinced that university is the only way to a good career.

"Many young people miss out on career opportunities because they are so geared towards attending university. The government, schools and parents have a shared responsibility to ensure that all avenues are explored and that children are not pushed in a direction which may not be right for them," Hathaway said.

More recently Hathaway expressed in her blog that although a career in the profession may not be considered aspirational, during the financial crisis accountants "not only remained in employment and received pay rises but also became more and more vital to their organisations".

Hathaway added that accountants are now playing major roles as business leaders, making decisions that "will carry weight right up to boardroom level" earning the respect of "the people who shape the company".

Article by Sebastian Clark

Related link

ACCA’s Sara Hathaway blog: What do you want to be when you are older?