The British state school system is in desperate need of careers guidance for pupils. The trouble is, anything we hear or read about careers services in schools recently is negative backlash- from MPs, charities and Ofsted.
My own experience with careers during secondary school was not a good one- classes and meetings were very lacklustre and general. There was little or no individual assistance or guidance towards the career you were aspiring for or how to achieve it; CV and cover letter help, job application advice and guidance with training or further education.
The BBC also recently reported that there is a vast disconnect between career advice given from parents to their children due to how rapidly the job market varies.
Moreover, there has been a drive to improve the standard of careers advice in schools is being planned by Ofsted. The education watchdog is consulting the changes with a view to them being included in inspections from the start of the new school year this September.
These improvements follow a report from Ofsted that found three out of four UK schools inspected failed to deliver adequate career advice and services. Inspectors said there was too much focus on pursuing an academic future rather than advice about vocational or straight-to-work options and advice that was available wasn't effective enough.
So what would good careers guidance in England be like?
Each pupil requires different career guidance at different stages of their academic lives. Each pupil has different aspirations that coincide with their abilities, whether academic or otherwise, and needs different assistance. It’s also important to keep a record of each pupil’s process to improve the careers guidance process for future students as well as keep track individual students’ progress. Schools do need to be incentivised to raise the priority of career guidance in the interests of their students.
|Each student requires individual guidance and advice.|
Implementing the Job Market
It’s practically impossible for any Careers Adviser, teacher or education professional to have all the answers when it comes to careers and industries. The job market is ever-changing so it’s imperative that students and their parents or guardians have access to up-to-date career & labour market information- simply so they know what they are aiming for. This will make pupils more likely to make better choices towards their employment and training aspirations.
Meeting Employers and Employees
Encountering ‘real’ bosses and staff is a brilliant way to get pupils engaged with what they are actually aiming for with their future occupation. It can also really motivate students to achieve their academic aims to secure their vocational dreams through access to external advice from successful employers and employees. Children also need to be made aware of the huge variety of career paths they can follow, as well as how they can begin their journey towards it through degrees, training etc. The job market is constantly changing and evolving, so careers advise in schools should be following suit as much as possible.
Linking Learning to Work
What’s the point of this? When am I ever going to use this in real life? If you've ever heard questions such as this, you’ll know that many students struggle to see the link between what they do in school and their future. So it’s vital they understand connections between school, training/degrees and working life and what they are taught in school relates to possible careers. Subject teachers can also be powerful role models that can attract pupils towards their subject and the careers that flow from it.
Although many UK state secondary schools have a work experience programme for older pupils, young people need much more than 2 weeks helping out in a clothes shop. Work experience does give students an insight into the working world but careers services should provide far more than placements; students require experience in various workplaces to get a better idea of the occupation they want to undertake. This could be meetings with employers and employees, 3 or 4 placements in different working environments and plenty of advice enclosing what the individual student is good at and enjoys. It’s all about collaboration and communication between students, teachers, parents, career advisers and bosses & staff.
If schools’ careers services are going to cater to students individually, schools need to consider whether the student aspires towards the next step of study, training or going straight into work. Higher education should be emphasized to students just as much as vocational training, college courses and work. Effective meetings for students are thought to be encounters with older students at university or those in further training or work.
It allows current secondary school students to actually visualise the path they could take towards their future academic and occupational aspirations.
Although online careers help can be useful to students, it simply isn't direct enough as career advice in schools should be. Secondary schools should understand the individualityof different students’ abilities, attributes and hobbies and guide them towards a respectable career, training or higher education path.