My Irritation With Careers Days

Part of the day job is to attend careers days and provide workshops to local schools. One of my biggest bug-bears is the lack of information given to young people about their options. As a matter of fact I have a bit of an issue about the amount of time jobs, applications and careers actually gets within the curriculum but more on that later.

Generally we are invited to speak to year 10’s (14-15 year olds) because year 11 they are getting on with their GCSE’s – fair enough I normally say BUT year 11 is the point where they actually have the realisation that a summer job is actually a good idea and the only way many of them will be able to fund their summer antics.

Put aside what I consider bad timing, what I mainly notice at these ‘careers events’ is the lack of local companies attending. So you can imagine my annoyance when companies complain they can’t get apprentices or new blood. NEWSFLASH PEOPLE if they don’t know you exist and don’t inspire them then no, no they won’t be applying and yes your skills gap will be getting ever wider.

Schools have a tendency to guide all kids toward A-levels and university. The reality check is that it’s just not for everyone. I did well academically, but my interest at 17 was earning money. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up (as does 98% of year 10’s) so how could I choose a path? Many of us fell into our careers, had a couple of jobs, worked out what we were good at and liked and molded our life around this. So why can we not say this is good enough for today’s kids? Why can’t we tell them that it’s ok to hit university at 30 when you’ve chosen your career path? Essentially what I’m getting at is why make them think college and Uni is the only option? 

We surveyed some young people and found many of them thought apprenticeships are for those who struggle academically. No one seems to have told them they can earn while achieving the same qualifications they would at college. No one seems to say that apprenticeships are available up to level 7 (post-grad) in so many specialisms. And that now you can be an apprentice at any age.

Creeping back to my initial issue of teaching them how to apply for jobs. Schools have lost so much funding these non mainstream curriculum issues are being dropped, cut back and as one teacher recently told me these things are being taught by teachers who have never held any other type of job, where there is a limited route and generally they have a very limited knowledge of the job market and employment trends. I’ve seen schools and colleges tell young people to put their date of birth and national insurance number on their CV ‘s… WHY?? So they can be discriminated against? So that they can have their identity stolen by unscrupulous people? So…

Schools – please teach them how to identify their skills. That being a sports person actually translates to having good communication, organisation and team player skills. Explain that quirky hobbies help us recruiters to remember them. Teach them to not publish their CV on the local job group on Facebook (err hello? Online safety?!). Teach them what we want to see on a CV those things they think are insignificant (like being a washer upper at the local cafe – it shows me they are willing to graft and have enthusiasm to actually get off their ass and work (a quality that almost ever employee I meet wants to see!). And most importantly if you don’t have the expertise ask someone, many of us will do this kind of thing for free.

Parents – don’t expect the school to teach any children of this, encourage your kids to look online for CV guidance, there are plenty of workshops around so point them in the right direction. The schools can’t always fund these lessons.

Employers – get involved and offer services to your local schools and colleges for free! Offer to go in and talk about the company, get HR to offer seminars on CV writing and how to apply for your jobs. Create an apprenticeship programme to create skilled staff (if you are a levy payer use the funding don’t lose it. If you’re not a levy player then look st the future, how are you planning on keeping the skills alive?) make it clear what you want from young people to get into your programmes. New Standards allow for greater flexibility and employer led programmes. They need the inspiration, if you don’t tell them about these jobs they won’t consider it as an option!

I really do believe that everyone is employable and there is a role for everyone. If in doubt get off your behind, contact local companies and ask them what they do and if it interests you ask how to get on board.

Nothing ventured. Nothing gained!

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