IN: Is careers advice in schools up to scratch?

“I have always been a very ambitious person. From a young age I appreciated the importance of working hard and valuing my education. I believe that for me, a lot of that came from having very supportive parents and grandparents – especially my lovely grandpa. In a way I always felt that if I worked hard, I would be able to achieve what I wanted.

As I got older the classic question “So what do you want to do when you grow up?”started to crop up more and more. For some youngsters even the thought of growing up is extremely daunting. In the past, the question implied that you had to make the decision and stick to it. Once you have decided your career path, that’s it. That’s your whole life planned out. Now it is much more common for individuals to have a career change, some even plan for this in advance! My mother for example was a city lawyer for 20 years before taking the brave decision to start her own business in an entirely new field.

I only really remember having one ‘appointment’ which was meant to help me decide my career path. An external party came into school to talk to all of the year 9’s. We were put into groups of 3-5 and asked to fill in a form detailing our skills, interests and career ideas. It then got converted into a kind of points system where we were then allocated a big catalogue type book with all the jobs that suited us. At the time I found it quite exciting, but in reality I can barely remember what job or industry I was ‘best suited to’. I think that in itself indicates how helpful this was. The only other advice I remember receiving was a website link, you had to sit down for a good hour answering lots of questions and then at the end it would tell you what job would suit you. A very boring and uninspiring process.

My secondary school was an extremely good school, ticking all of OFSTED’s boxes. But employability and life skills weren’t really on the priority list and unfortunately I don’t think this is an isolated case. For me, I think that is really worrying. I believe that every school should have real careers advice and information accessible to every student, not just leaflets and posters with web addresses.Students often need to talk through their career ideas and have the right information available to establish what they need to do to get there. A lot of young people I know now have had to figure it all out on their own. This is particularly a problem for students that don’t wish to go to university. I believe the real question we need to think about is what is the point of education? It is now a legal requirement for young people to stay in (some form of) education until they are 18. Many young people are leaving school and college with impressive grades but little understanding of what skills and experience you need to be employable.

I believe every option that is out there in terms of working, apprenticeships, training, universities, colleges, evening classes and Open University courses and so on should all be explained in detail. They should be explained in a way that makes them all equally appealing, with no bias leaning towards which is ‘better’. Everyone is different and the education system should make sure that everyone is prepared for their own journey, allowing young people to access the career path that they truly desire.”

I’d love to hear your experiences of careers advice at school, tweet me your thoughts to @maldrichwincer!

Don’t forget to check out Inclusive Networks’ website here and follow them on Twitter @incnetworks.

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