Jobs market tougher for Ipswich school leavers - headteacher’s stark careers warning

Copleston High School principal Andrew Green. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

Copleston High School principal Andrew Green. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL - Credit: Archant

Teenagers in Suffolk are leaving school into a tougher world where there are fewer jobs available - with harder competition and ever higher demands for qualifications, an Ipswich headteacher has warned.

While passing exams has always been important, several careers - from engineering, plumbing, nursing, journalism and even teaching - have historically offered alternative routes for those without traditional qualifications such as A-levels, O-levels and GCSEs.

Typically those people have been able to progress to top positions through experience or by studying for qualifications while working.

But Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich, said many of the old ways up the career ladder are no longer available without good qualifcations in the first place.

"The jobs students used to be able to go into with minimal qualifications are now so limited," he said.

Copleston High School, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Copleston High School, Ipswich. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

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Mr Green spoke out about the "highly competitive" new world in a bid to warn young people and parents about the crucial need to achieve good exam grades if they are to stand the strongest chance of future success.

A decline in traditional manufacturing jobs, caused by the closure of factories across Suffolk over the years, means that "demand has outstripped supply" - and those positions left now call for a higher level of qualification than before.

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"If you really do want to get a decent job, it is much less likely to be in manufacturing and more likely to be in the service sector," said Mr Green.

"A well-paid job in the service sector will require a decent level of qualifications."

Copleston has added an extra hour of "compulsory revision" to the school day for year-11 pupils to ensure they are prepared - a controversial move for some, but welcomed by many.

Mr Green believes the approach is essential to ensure young people leave with the best grades and go into the world with higher chances of success - and has pointed to the school's higher Progress 8 score, which assesses the difference between children from when they start to when they finish, as proof of its success.

At +0.36, Copleston is consistently rated "well or above average" for schools by the Department for Education.

Mr Green has also allocated part of the school's budget for consultancy Maximize Your Potential to hold sessions for hundreds of GCSE and A-level students on exam strategies, to motivate them and ensure they prepare for tests in the right way.

"It doesn't matter what you want to go and be - whether it's a top barrister, consultant or you want to be running your own business as a plumber or plasterer," the headteacher said.

"If you don't get the qualifications these days, you won't get into any post-16 careers.

"There are some superb jobs available in the manufacturing sector, for example via the port at Felixstowe, but these are in much shorter supply than they would have been 30 or 40 years ago. Therefore, gaining good qualifications is critical for accessing all jobs."

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