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Graduates regret following careers advice, survey reveals

Author: Nicky

Twelve PR Co-founder
Graduate hat toss

Schools are only too aware of the need to provide independent careers advice, and also the yawning gap in funding for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG).

An article in The Telegraph 18.8.15 highlighted exactly this situation:

One in 10 adults regret basing study choices on poor career advice while at school, the YouGov poll showed. The findings of 2,076 British adults also revealed that one of the biggest regrets about schooling was picking a subject or course without a career in mind.

Instead of defending the failure to provide good careers advice, the organisations invited to respond to criticism just gave a metaphorical shrug and said  “yes it’s awful,” followed by  “there’s no money for it.”

What can schools do, without spending money, to provide better independent, impartial careers advice?

Now I wouldn’t normally offer operational advice to a school, as a governor I know my role should be strictly strategic, but careers advice and guidance is an area in which I happen to have some experience

I have spoken to hundreds of school children at careers events; listened to numerous careers talks and watched children complete a variety of online psychometric tests; administered these types of tests myself as an employer; provided many school work placements and undergraduate internships, and worked for a number of specialist providers in this field including the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE), Graduate Prospects and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).

So what can schools do to help themselves?

  1. Find a member of staff who has worked outside of education to be in charge of coordinating your careers activities.
  2. Bear in mind that school children only understand four types of jobs: teacher, fireman, hairdresser or doctor.
  3. Most children and young adults don’t want any of these four jobs, and not knowing what they want to do makes them feel a bit miserable.
  4. Help your students to learn for themselves about different types of jobs – cheer them up.
  5. Show them how to look at something and wonder how it is made, and then to think about the jobs that might involve. Organise themed careers talks – try an imaginative approach – “Car Night : How many different jobs are needed to make a car or a computer?” or “Fashion Night / Film Night etc.
  6. Mine your parent body / governor body / friends / family to find people who can come in and talk about what they do in these areas.
  7. Give your invited speakers a very good brief, which includes running at least one interactive activity as part of their talk.  Keep the talk to around 15 minutes unless they are amazing.
  8. Help your students to recognise the skills they have. Explain what skills are.  Many teenagers feel bad about themselves and don’t think they have any skills at all.
  9. You may need to find the smallest thing in them to work on. For example do they like drawing? Organising? Chatting? Building things? Tidying up? Playing sport? Helping people? Gaming?
  10. Make sure every student sees the following statistics several times before they leave school:
    • You are three times more likely to get a job if you have work experience
    • The more times you have contact with the world of work, the more likely you are to get a job.
  11. Take an interest-first approach. You’re going to work for a long time, better enjoy what you do.
  12. What do you like? So you love animals / planes/ music / photography etc  – here’s all the jobs people who love music could have….

To summarise, the best careers advice I ever heard:

“Know thyself”.

Careers Guidance and Inspiration for Schools, DfE

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