It’s National Careers Week in the UK, as well as National Apprenticeship Week #NCW2019 #NAW2019, and my thoughts have been turning to careers advice and provision. There has been much discussion on #edutwitter about when is the optimum time to talk about careers with children and young people. The ASPIRES report suggests that we should certainly be doing this before the age of 11, and research also indicates that children are starting to rule out job areas from the age of 8. Why then is so much careers advice focused on secondary school students?
It is obviously appropriate to be talking about careers and next steps for young people making decisions about their futures, but it is also imperative that we start to expose children to a wider sphere of influence at earlier ages. If you don’t know what different jobs and careers exist, how can you possibly decide if it’s for you or not? I’m not suggesting that this is yet another item to add on to the already overcrowded primary curriculum or to be yet one more thing for primary school teachers to be responsible for. Like so many other skills and experiences we want our young people to have, this is everyone’s responsibility: parents, teachers, grandparents, school leaders, companies and organisations, communities and the wider society. We need to raise aspirations and, more importantly, to widen aspirations, influences and exposure to the big, wide, exciting world out there; to inspire children and young people to explore their interests and strengths, to experience new ones, and even to create new roles for themselves and find fulfilment in the wondrous world out there. I would obviously advocate that an interest in science can lead to many exciting things, but there are valuable and rewarding niches for everyone – if only you know about them!