Let’s talk careers education!

Recent reports have suggested that 65% of primary-aged pupils will be employed in jobs that don’t currently exist. In light of the rapidly changing employment landscape, we sat down with a careers education and employability expert – Tracy Walters from CareerWave – to discuss what we can be doing to help bridge the gap between education and employment.

careers education

In your opinion, how and why is the employment landscape changing?

“I’ve been a Careers guidance professional since 1992 and my approach to helping students navigate the employment landscape has changed considerably.

In the 1990s -2000s I would say I talked more about specific ‘occupations’ whereas now the discussion is more about career management skills. This is because the employment landscape of now and the future is quite unpredictable. Things change, it’s a fact.

From the days humans were hunters and gatherers through to the industrial (and now digital revolution) the human race has to adapt to a fluid world of careers. The main ‘external’ catalyst is technological and digital advances, but I would also say that students entering employment nowadays, have ‘internal’ catalysts – that is, their mindset and desire to succeed is on another level.

Students are exposed to rather savage and competitive cultures that encourage a desire to go beyond their potential and because the world of work moves with a ferocious velocity, students have to be nimble and adaptive.

In the past 30 years I have seen ‘en vogue’ skills such as communication and organisation take prevalence as the old faithfulls of transferable skills. Now, the new work environment demands a new set of skills to ensure employees achieve peak productivity as the working landscape changes.

If students are to thrive in their kaleidoscope careers then it’s skills like resilience, determination and cultural awareness that will rule the roost.”

How should this translate into what employability skills children and young people are taught?

“For me, careers guidance ought to begin from a young age. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not talking about the old ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ question, but more about exposing young children to a world of possibilities, aspiration and hope.

This means connecting education and work better and more effectively. It doesn’t matter how the exposure occurs, but I know in my experience, the most ambitious and aspirational young people have often had many encounters with the world of work, before they are even in secondary education.

Humans tend to covet what they see, so it stands to reason that the more children are exposed to aspects of working life the more able they will be to manage it and achieve their full potential.

These encounters can take many forms – from inviting employers or alumni students into a school, to travelling and experiencing different cultures, to having a mentor in a successful corporation, to making career mistakes and learning from them. It doesn’t matter, so long as they are exposed to the potential difference a career can make to their lives.”

What can schools do to help bridge the education and employment gap?

“A great place to start is to develop a careers programme in school. There are many tools out there to help educators do this. One of the influencing approaches is that of the Gatsby benchmarks for good career guidance. These provide a set of exceptional benchmarks that (if implemented well) can make a significant impact on the eventual career destinations of students.”

What are your top three tips for parents to help them set their children up to succeed?

“As a parent myself, I am a big believer in ensuring my children have been able to access experiences outside of education. This doesn’t mean taking them on expensive holidays, but more about helping them to experience (and sink their teeth into), the world around them.

Encourage them to go out to parks, museums, libraries, science fairs, try different foods and do something for another person. Encouraging children to be curious, to challenge and be nice human beings are my top three tips.”

GXC Careers is a new way to deliver careers education in schools across the Middle East.

Developed in partnership by Gabbitas Education, CareerWave and Xeed it aims to support schools to deliver high-quality, impartial and sustainable careers education for all students.

For more information, get in touch on admin@gabbitas.ae or +971 (0) 445 16933.