Career Exploration – What can it do for a child’s future?

When it comes to career exploration and asking students ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ the answers they give usually stem from extravagant to cliched, yet these replies are somewhat limited. Astronaut, Teacher, Footballer, Popstar and Spiderman are the usual go-to dream job descriptions which children want to work towards, but what does this mean for their future? These career paths seem to be heralded throughout childhood as the go to jobs for occupational success. TV, Films and Books aimed at children glamorise these positions, and although this is not a negative notion, it could be argued that it can detract the attention from thousands of other opportunities that a child could excel in. This leads to the idea that we should be teaching about progression and career explorations in school to help students be prepared for their future and think outside the box when it comes to job inspiration.

There are many ways in which you can help increase awareness and create opportunities for the less popular jobs and it doesn’t need to take up an entire lesson to mention them. As a quick task, you could list a few lesson related job titles, this would help cater to different interests and help individuals decide what they aspire to be when they leave education. For example; if you were teaching a History lesson about the Bronte Sisters, you could relate this topic to writers, historians or librarians.

Many of the jobs children wish to have when they grow up tend to have a strict skill set, including the position of a spider-bitten super hero. Although having a strong and strict skill set is not something to lean away from, it can leave some students feeling unworthy and demotivated when these said skills aren’t easy to acquire. Once a student expresses an interest in a certain career path, it would be beneficial to advise them as to what skill set they would require for this. This can help them feel motivated in lessons they may have previously not had an interest in. This career exploration will not only help them with their academic path, but will also be an advantage for their social skills. Preparation, motivation and excitement for the future are only a few essential attributes that will increase and improve throughout the notion of career exploration.

One of the most effective ways of helping children understand a professional work environment is through experience. Problem solving, team work, creativity workshops and more can all be implemented in role play lessons. You could set a different task each week for your students to follow that would require them to embody a variety of job roles to help them experience the working lifestyle. When you switch round these roles week by week, students can become aware of what they excel in and what interests them. You can also create personality and career assessments for children who are struggling to find any job opportunities that interest them.

Many students also prefer taking a ‘hands-on’ approach to learning new things. Visiting places of work, museums and other eye opening environments can help children understand working environments and gain first hand experiences in the world of employment. Without career exploration children are unable to fully realise their potential or research alternate professional sectors that they may be interested in. A lot of ‘behind the scenes’ job roles are forgotten about when discussing the future, this can make finding these positions difficult for children and young people from the start. Change what children are exposed to when it comes to their future, broadening their horizons may make it easier for them to find a job in their preferred sector. Also, as young people would grow up knowing the vast range of positions that are out there, not everybody will be after the same thing. When it comes to talking about the future with your students you should aim for positivity, this way we can get children excited for their future in the professional work place, rather than dreading Mondays!

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