“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that all children will hear at some point in their early childhood. Typical answers usually include astronaut, firefighter and ballerina. However, with the odds of becoming an astronaut fairly low, eventually your students will begin to wonder – what other careers are possible?
As students develop their skills and interests, and prepare for the world outside of education, teachers have an important role to play. You have the opportunity to share the wide variety of jobs that are out there, and help your students to develop the skills they will need for successful careers.
Of course, your teaching curriculum is often tightly organised – but there are ways to make some room for career guidance. Here are five simple activities to get students thinking about the world of work.
1. Organise career guidance activities
Often students aren’t aware of the vast array of professions out in the wider world. Introducing some career guidance activities into your classes is a good way of exposing them to the diverse world of work. These could include:
- “Discovery workshops” – these workshops comprise a series of activities aimed at facilitating career discovery. Students engage in small group discussions, are introduced to a wide range of careers, and learn how to pursue them by the means of further education or apprenticeships.
- Class presentations on new professions – ask your students to research a profession that interests them, create a presentation about this and show it to the rest of the class.
- Work simulations – work tasters in school include workshops, fully equipped kitchens, industry related projects, working laboratories and more. The aim of these is to provide a ‘taste’ of different occupational areas.
2. Develop students’ skill sets
Teaching students both soft and hard skills is important for increasing their chances of securing a job after finishing formal education. Hard skills are usually more job specific, such as project management, using computer software and writing skills. At a classroom level, hard skills are taught in specific subjects. For example, IT provides a good basis for using software such as Microsoft, and English classes can develop writing skills. Giving students choice and autonomy over their learning will teach them project management skills.
However, soft skills for the 21st century world of work are equally important. These include interpersonal skills, leadership, work ethic and communication skills. They are vital for the workplace and highly sought after by employers. These can be incorporated into the students’ learning through:
- Developing their ability to speak publicly
- Promoting personal reflection and self-awareness
- Encouraging problem-solving
- Making time for collaboration and cooperative learning
3. Link subjects to professions
Another way in which classroom teachers can offer career guidance is by linking subjects they are teaching to the world of work.
For example, science classes can be used to highlight the scientific processes in research and the science industry. A chemistry experiment could be linked to chemical engineering, biology could be linked to healthcare, nutrition or medical research. Likewise, English classes are a good way of exposing students to the field of publishing or journalism. And language classes could be linked to translation and language teaching.
By linking these subjects to specific roles, you’re giving your students an understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to pursue these careers.
4. Interview preparation
Students can brainstorm questions they may be asked in an interview, and practise answering these in pairs or groups. By doing this, you are directly helping your students to prepare for this future obstacle. It will develop their confidence, build their self-esteem and ensure they are well equipped to make a good impression in an interview situation.
Succeeding in a 21st century marketplace also means knowing how to write a CV and cover letter. You could offer workshops on CV and cover letters, allowing you to break the process down and explain the type of information your students must include in a CV; transferable skills, interests, education and experience.
5. Inviting professionals to class
By bringing local professionals into the (virtual) classroom, you’ll be giving your students an opportunity to gain first hand advice and information about real life careers. This opens the students’ eyes to a much broader range of professions in the world. From tourism to fine art, engineering to technology, students can learn a lot more about the array of opportunities available to them. These talks could be offered as workshops or after school activities, depending on the timetable available.
Learn more about the employability skills your students will need for their future and get practical tips on how to develop these skills.
The Pearson Global Learner Survey offers some fascinating insights into the future of education and work.
This blog has some useful advice on encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers.
Finally, the Future of Skills tool is a look at the world of employment in 2030, which uses a data-driven approach to predict which skills learners will need when they join the world of work.