The most effective careers programmes are those that have a careers strategy and a whole-school approach to delivery. While the role of the careers adviser and supporting team are critical in shaping and enabling much of the programme, teachers also play a key role in delivering great careers experiences.
Careers programmes should encompass all areas of career development – education, information, advice and guidance – known as CEIAG. Many people focus only on the last three – information, advice and guidance - and, while these lie at the heart of great careers experiences, students will be missing out without the inclusion of careers education.
Careers education comprises three distinct elements – lessons specifically on careers, embedding careers in the curriculum, and gaining experience of the world of work. There has been a lot of focus on work experience over recent years, with two of the Gatsby Benchmarks in England directly related (5. Encounters with employers and employees and 6. Experiences of workplaces). The new curriculum in Wales includes Careers and Work-Related Experiences (CWRE) as one of five cross-cutting curriculum themes and similar expectations are held in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
But what of embedding careers in the curriculum? There is growing support for this to be a much stronger area of focus, benefiting not just students and the careers team, but also teaching staff and the school more widely.
Essentially, it is about linking what is taught in the classroom to careers and the world of work. When developing classroom studies and teaching materials, teachers can embed references to, discussions about, and experiences of a range of careers. The reasons for doing this include:
- relating what is being taught to future career opportunities so students see their relevance
- exploring different careers to widen students’ perceptions of the careers available
- challenging stereotypes within different careers
- enabling students to prepare for career discussions by having a better understanding of where different subjects could lead them
For example, when teaching maths, what careers could different topics relate to? From construction to computing, insurance to engineering, accounting to health services, there is a vast array of careers where different aspects of the subject has relevance. How can you draw that out in the classroom – could you ask how an area of study may relate to different roles? Or ask how a selection of roles may find the subject useful? And bringing in people who work in different roles to share how they work is invaluable – students love hearing from those directly using the knowledge and skills they are learning.
There is benefit to teachers too. When students see the relevance of the materials, they are more likely to be engaged with the content and are better able to decide whether further study is right for them. That means you get the right students following on to higher levels of education.
There are many ways to embed careers in the curriculum and I’ll be exploring some of them in a workshop with Catrin Isaac from Careers Wales at the UCAS Teachers and Advisers Conference on 6 March. Careers Wales do excellent work on embedding CWRE into the new curriculum and Catrin will be sharing how that has made a difference.
I hope to see you there.
The CDI is the professional body for those working in all aspects of career development. To learn more about the work of the CDI, please visit our website.