“What got us here is not necessarily what will get us to the next stage.”
The world has changed. Jobs have changed. Schools are changing. So why can’t the way we deal with “Careers” be reimagined to reflect the world today’s and tomorrow’s graduates will find after they leave school.
As part of our educational remit we are charged with the duty of preparing our students for post-SCAS success. In the 20th century this would have involved hiring and supporting a Careers Team at the school – a team that would guide our students into the training and education that would lead to a job, suited to their talents and goals.
Because the structure of work is always changing, it’s important to consider your career as a lifelong journey, rather than a destination. It is no longer enough for students to ask, “What should I do?” Now there are more questions to ask.
We have to be able to assist our students with questions like:
- Where do I ultimately want to be in my life?
- How should I do it?
- How does this fit with my life values and goals?
- What could be my next step?
- How can I prepare for the next change?
“In order to create employment for those who are graduating, it’s important for us to review a system that has become antiquated. Even more critical, however, is to note that our current models of education, career planning and job searching are not just in need of a facelift – we need a major paradigm shift in how we think about training our emerging workforce and the skills they need to have to be relevant, let alone have a chance at being wildly successful.” (How to Prepare Young People for Jobs of the Future, Jennifer Kushell, 2014)
So why doesn’t SCAS have a Careers Advisor?
We believe the old model of careers advice is a leftover from a rapidly disappearing or no longer existing world. As educators, we must constantly strive to prepare our students for the “real world” that exists and will exist around them. We teach them how to read, write, and calculate. Then we work to develop the less tangible skills; such as how to work in a team, think critically, and be curious about the things they encounter each day. We must work to prepare them to lead productive and successful lives once they leave us and enter into the realm of adulthood.
Job for life – pretty much gone. Long term employment in the one job – rapidly diminishing. Old industries and roles disappearing, new industries and jobs being created. We must acknowledge that the old way of career advice that worked in the past is no longer suited to the circumstances our graduates will face.
The employment realities our student graduates face/will face include:
Reality #1: The Rise of Self-Employment
Reality #2: Rapid Job Switching
Reality #3: The Rise of the Robots
Reality #4: Work Going Mobile
Reality #5: The Employee as Brand
“Schools are not constructed to meet the realities of today’s modern learners and workers. Schools were built for a time when access to knowledge, information and teachers was scarce, restricted to what we could and in our local libraries and communities. But with the advent of the Web and our growing abundant access to all of those things, the form and function of schools is now in question as the needs of our students begin to shift in some dramatic, important ways.” (Next Generation Leadership)
We are determined not to be the kind of school this quote references. We can and must do better for our students and that means making changes in what we do and how we do it.
The essentials of Career Guidance/Education at SCAS that will address the rapidly evolving world of our graduates will be:
- A focus on skill and knowledge development, with particular emphasis on literacy and numeracy
- Acknowledgement of the nature of the changing workforce and the skills needed to access success
- Embedding the skills needed for success into the wider curriculum
- Provision of accurate, thoughtful and up-to-date information to students in regard to the post school world and their options
- Access to persons of demonstrable knowledge and skill to provide information and guidance in regard to the above
“In order to be successful in the world of work you’ll need to have skills that are in demand, but you may end up working in occupations that don’t even exist yet! So how can you prepare? You can prepare by identifying things that are constant across the world of work and then develop skills or qualities based on those constants. This way, you’re prepared to step in any direction the future takes you.” CareerCenter.org.
We may not know exactly what lies ahead for our students in the future, but we have the advantage of knowing what skills they will need once they get there. Here are the 7 survival skills of the 21st century:
So we are planning.
Plan #1: Ensure the development of Literacy and Numeracy skills in all SCAS students. Upon completion of the compulsory years, all students should have experienced a curriculum that supports them to:
- be able to receive, retrieve and express increasingly complex ideas and information in visual, written and spoken form
- be highly competent in assembling, manipulating and interpreting numbers and other mathematical constructs
- listening, reading, writing, viewing and speaking, and presenting information in a variety of forms using a variety of media
“Literacy and numeracy skills have an important place in senior secondary subjects regardless of the pathways undertaken by students beyond Year 12….The Melbourne Declaration highlights the need for students to have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy, as a foundation for success in all learning areas.”
SCAS will work to:
- Place an ongoing emphasis on systemic and appropriate teaching of literacy and numeracy K→ 10 in its curriculum design.
- Employ/appoint staff with the specific responsibilities of guiding and working with teachers to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes of all students.
- Require all teaching and classroom support staff to undertake such professional development as is required to ensure effectiveness in teaching these key areas
- Allocate a high priority to the development and use of educational data to inform effective Literacy and Numeracy teaching by all teachers K→ 10.
- Ensure that assessment structures and processes are developed and used to ensure that student performance and progress can be tracked effectively.
Plan #2: Embed the “survive and succeed skills” our students need into the curriculum. Instead of leaving preparation for work to the “careers person”, every teacher at SCAS, through their professional practice, will embed the identification and teaching of the other essential skills our students will need into multiple facets of the formal and informal curriculum.
The basic survival skills we will develop include:
- Skill #1: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Skill #2: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
- Skill #3: Agility and Adaptability
- Skill #4: Initiative and Entrepreneurship
- Skill #5: Effective Oral and Written Communication
- Skill #6: Accessing and Analyzing Information
- Skill #7: Curiosity and Imagination
Plan #3: Expose students to information about the changing world. Before we launch our students into the “real world” we will make sure that they have access to what it is really like “out there”.
- Develop a range of industry and tertiary education/training partnerships as resources for information and action.
- Access and utilise speakers such as futurists, entrepreneurs and policy-makers to inform the school community.
- Actively develop a cross-curricular program of visits by carefully selected speakers from the “real world” to give staff and students perspectives on post school life.
- Develop a program to inform students of the issues they will potentially confront after leaving school – housing, financial management, health, social interaction etc.
- Encourage, through work experience, work placement and industry experience programs, opportunities for students to gain real life experience of the work world.
- Communicate with parents the steps we are taking to lessen any perceptions that the school is not active in supporting the development of students in this realm.
- Where possible and appropriate embed aspects of workplace evolution and knowledge into everyday curricula and activities.
- Support the use of graduates in returning to SCAS to expound on their experiences – positive and negative – in their post school life.
Plan #4: Ensure students (and their parents) have access to relevant and accurate advice.
Preparing students for their future cannot be one-size fits all, nor can all knowledge and responsibility for this be invested in one person. It is imperative that students have access to multiple sources of information from multiple platforms.
There is no doubt that the current and future students who are more digitally literate, attuned and dependent than their predecessors will find digital sources of education about tertiary education, career development, training etc. (This has already proven popular with students but not so much with parents, whose attitudes often see them longing for the style of advice they received in the past).
However, there is no substitute at times for a respected, knowledgeable and available adult to bounce ideas off, ask questions of or provide reassurance. The aim will be that SCAS will be able to provide a “bank” of such adults. Once again the idea will be to provide a range of persons so as to overcome any “personality issues”, absences or limited information/experience. Therefore,…..
SCAS will work to:
- Ensure students have access to effective and up-to-date online career/tertiary education information and are trained in its use.
- As a priority, develop a training program that allows Year Patrons in Stage 5 and 6 to be aware of and able to comment on workplace development, career opportunities and tertiary options.
- Select other persons on staff of demonstrable knowledge and experience in areas related to post school options to be available to students for questions.
- Ensure that the parent body is fully informed of the school’s actions and the availability of staff to work with them, as well as students, to provide information and reassurance.
It’s going to be interesting out there!
Is this approach radical? Not really. Controversial? Maybe.
Need to learn more (or disagree with me)? Feel free to call or meet so that we can talk.