“What do you want to be when you’re older?”
It’s a question everyone is faced with throughout their childhood and can, for some, fill them with dread. While some quickly know what they want, many do not, and how can children decide their career path when they are unengaged with the advice that’s out there?
When at school, jobs and a career seem so far away and a low priority. Often, it’s excelling in certain subjects and falling behind in others that can dictate what career someone chooses, especially if there’s no understanding of how each subject could correlate to what they study after school.
Career advice in schools is failing our young students. Typically, it takes the form of a teacher asking the student what they want to do, with students responding with what they feel they should do. These short meetings are uninspiring and don’t engage with young students.
Additionally, there are still hurdles to jump over at home. When it comes to careers advice, over a third of parents are scared of advising the wrong thing to their child, with half worrying that their understanding of the current career environment may hinder their child’s future. It’s hugely important that parents and schools have the tools and capacity to encourage and excite their children to make a sound decision that suits the child best.
Young people have been completely immersed in digital experiences from an early age and, as such, are accustomed to the highly engaging and quality content around them. Gamification is everywhere, too; whether it’s with learning a language or brushing teeth, gamification has been proven to engage even the most disengaged. So, why aren’t schools taking advantage of such a method and the technology around them to help advise their pupils on career options?
Poor decision-making in careers doesn’t only cause upset through emotional strain and stress for the person involved, but also has a wider impact on the economy. Research from the Local Government Association has revealed that, by 2024, 12 million people could be caught in a skills gap and, as a result, cost the economy £90bn of economic growth. This gap is anticipated to be caused by millions of low-skilled workers being unable to fill the surplus of high skilled jobs available. It’s vital to tackle this by getting students into the best possible careers in the first instance, and to ensure they understand what avenue to take to learn what’s required to fill these high-skilled jobs.
What is positive is that the Government is finally recognising the importance of innovation in careers advice. The Government’s careers strategy, published at the end of 2017 – and other statutory guidance for school staff, published in 2018 – has set out the plan for a “high-quality careers system that will help young people to achieve”. The Gatsby Benchmarks “define all the elements of an excellent careers programme” and schools are already working towards meeting them, with a deadline of implementing them across the country by the end of 2020. These benchmarks will be added to schools’ Ofsted reports and contribute to their overall grade. Technology, like immersive career platforms, can help support schools in their journey to meet these benchmarks.
It’s great to see that schools are finally recognising the domino effect of consequences faced when pupils aren’t given sound careers advice, and that they are working together to tackle this issue. Technology is changing industries at a rapid pace, revolutionising the way we manage our day-to-day lives. And education is no stranger to innovation, when we consider recorded lessons, laptops, tablets, and interactive whiteboards. However, careers advice in schools hasn’t felt these advancements in technology, remaining unchanged since my schooldays. For the younger generation – aspiring to become a vet, game creator or engineer – it’s imperative that our school system provides them with the tools to achieve their ambitions.