Carers Rights Day 2018: caring for the future of young adult carers

29 November 2018

Today is Carers Rights Day, an important campaign which aims to raise awareness of the needs and rights of carers. This year’s theme, ‘caring for your future’, emphasises the difference that having the right information at the right time can make to a carer’s path in life.

Sadly, our new report shows that too many young people with caring responsibilities do not get the advice and support they need to make informed decisions about their futures.

Instead, caring impacts on young people’s education and employment opportunities in two main ways.

Firstly, it creates a host of practical considerations – such as location, distance from home, number of hours and flexibility – which can limit their choice of learning and work opportunities and often take precedence over their personal interests and ambitions.

Secondly, it can have a strong influence on their career aspirations, with many feeling that a caring profession would fit their skills and experience, and provide them with the flexibility they need in work. While this is not necessarily problematic, jobs in the care sector are often low paid, insecure and offer few opportunities for progression. Many young adult carers tend to ‘fall into’ these roles without having the opportunity to consider any real alternatives.

This highlights the importance of young adult carers having access to good quality, independent careers advice tailored to their needs. Young people involved in our study told us that, when they did receive specialist careers advice, they could see how their caring skills could be transferable and valuable to employers across different sectors. This awareness gave them the confidence to raise their aspirations and pursue different pathways. However, less than half of the young people involved in our research had accessed a formal careers advice session, and only a quarter had discussed their caring role with a careers adviser. This needs to change if we want young adult carers to have access to the same opportunities as their peers.

Young adult carers provide the equivalent of £5.5 billion of care every year, yet in return often experience significant challenges in pursuing their own aspirations in life. Our new report makes an important contribution to an all-too-thin evidence base on the lives and needs of young adult carers. We hope the evidence and recommendations will encourage stakeholders to improve the information, advice and support available to this inspirational group of young people, to help them pursue fulfilling and meaningful careers.

Charlotte Robey-Turner, Learning and Work Institute

Visit our dedicated web page to learn more about our work with young adult carers or sign up to our mailing list below to receive regular updates.