National Careers Week 2014 – Day 2 – Getting Started

‘Careers and Progression’ – it is a huge area to take responsibility for. This may include whole class teaching, one-to-one guidance, preparation for interviews and CV writing, work experience, business links and a whole raft of other tasks. You will need to keep up-to-date records and encourage the students to do the same. You will need to maintain a library of resources, University prospectuses and local college courses. You will certainly need information about current and predicted job market trends.

If you are in the Secondary sector you will need to establish good relationships with your post-16 and post-18 local providers. If you are in the Primary sector you will need to start them young, thinking about their futures, providing them with people from the world of business to talk to and ensure that they know the options available to them.

These things take time to set up and the best way is to take small steps and build from one year to the next. Here are some ideas for getting started:

Careers noticeboards

One of the best ways I have found of sparking interest in children of all ages is to have a careers noticeboard in school. For Primary, this might be one board in a prominent place, changed regularly with interesting information about a variety of jobs or training opportunities. In Secondary, I like to see a careers board in each subject area, along the lines of ‘What careers can I do with Science?’  I found Heads of Department in Secondary quite enthusiastic about this as it promoted their subject in a meaningful way. It also kept my mail down as when I got flyers or booklets related to a particular type of training or subject, I passed them on to the relevant Heads of Department!

Careers Library

In most cases, a Careers Library can be built up within the school library. One of the best ways to access information these days is via the computer. This also keeps the quantity of paper down in your school. Clearly I am not talking about children randomly finding advice but teachers providing a list of recommended sites to use.

Here are some suggestions of sites which teachers might find helpful:

Student Involvement

Another valuable tool for creating a Careers ethos in school is to encourage the students to build their own portfolio. This could include their hopes and dreams, their strengths and weaknesses, some target setting as well as snippets and print outs of jobs that interest them now which may exist in the future. Help them to gain self-awareness, to know what their strengths and weaknesses are, so that they can create a path that will get them close to their dream but reflect reality. What I mean by this is, it is fine to want to be a footballer, but they need to be aware of the shortfalls – the need for talent as well as hard work, the length of time that the career is viable, the need for a Plan B in case it doesn’t work out.

Despite there being some great resources out there for both online and hard copies of portfolios (which cost lots of money) I found it just as easy to ask them to make a Powerpoint or keep a scrapbook. These methods enabled easy updating and helped them look back to see what progress they had made. Some of my students were immensely proud of their files and took them to College interviews to discuss with the interviewer.

I hope that these ideas could work no matter which phase you teach in. In my opinion, there should be a constant drip feed of careers references during lessons and activities. I would advise an extra box on lesson plans which might indicate where an opportunity to mention careers could arise. For example, during a Mathematics lesson on area, the teacher might ask which jobs rely on the ability to calculate area. Hopefully the children will then come up with several suggestions such as carpet fitter, tiler, roofer etc.  The benefits are two-fold as the child begins to make the link between ‘stuff’ done in school and the real world, whilst the teacher shows that the subject is important in the world of work and beyond.

One of the most important and valuable aspect of careers education (yet one of the biggest minefields if it goes wrong) is business links. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog.



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