With the new academic year fast approaching, I have been thinking very deeply about how I can offer our students a career service that is not only empowering but more so inspiring. My experience over the past years has shown me that career discovery is not an element of a student's academic journey that is consciously considered until the university bells begin to ring for them. Both parents and teenagers across the world are more focused on getting the grade with the aim of attending a high-ranking university than they are considering the bigger picture.... employability and career empowerment. This blog is dedicated to every parent, guardian, teacher and teenager who will either impact or be impacted by the limitations that simply focusing on the grades will offer them.
Depending on your belief system about career discovery for teenagers, you may fall in to one of two categories. The first being the category of people who say, 'In my time, I did not know what I wanted to do and look at me now, I found a career. Let teenagers figure it out when they graduate from university'; or you may fall into the category of, 'I wish someone was able to guide me with career discovery because I could have been so much more successful today if I had someone guide me when I was a teenager'. Either way, here we are enjoying the pleasures of advanced technology and yet still preparing young people for future careers in the same fashion as we did in the 80s! It is my belief that in order to prepare young people for a thriving career we are failing them by only offering them academic tutoring and support.
My passion for supporting young people stretches far further than the school gates. In fact, the school gates, in my programme, are complimentary to the numerous strategies that I implement in partnership with the local and global community. From meeting individuals in the corporate world to discuss their concerns and needs from future talent to inviting professionals into the college to share their career tips and career journey with young people and everything in-between. Career support is not about sitting students in a classroom environment and teaching them content that may or may not be relevant. Career support is about bringing work to school and inviting students to the work environment.
If you have been in the audience of one of my talks, you will see that I am very passionate about the work that I do, but more so, you will walk away understanding that as a global community, we are responsible for supporting young people and their parents with career knowledge and understanding. There is no room for our personal opinion about careers for the future and there are definitely no wins in putting career pressure on a young person to do something that we wish we could have pursued when they are not the right 'fit'. I am a firm believer that an academically successful student is not an indication that the student will be employable and successful in their career. The skillset required for each differ greatly. In fact, the most common complaint that I have heard from graduates who have started their careers is that they were ill prepared for the realities of a work environment. They did not learn the 'street smart skills' that are expected in the work place which are never taught in the classroom. As educators, our role is to ensure that the curriculum content is taught with the aim that our students are able to thrive in their exams and achieve the highest possible grade. As employers, our role is to ensure that our key performance indicators are a clear indication that our team members are achieving their highest potential to reign in the highest potential profit for the organisation. Can you see the disconnect between the two worlds? The gap is vast but not impossible to merge. The big question is how do we merge both worlds without sacrificing the pleasures of being a young person before they enter the realities of adulthood?
You may be reading this while stating that the education system is what it is and there is nothing that we can do to change it. On the one hand, I understand this thought process; however, on the other hand I ask you if this was true, would we have experienced iconic global movements such as rights for women, freedom from slavery, LGBT rights and so many more. Since the beginning of time, humans have created change and change doesn't happen by sitting back and stating that we must accept the system as it is; but rather that our one voice can make a difference. The time is now to begin encouraging your children to discover careers. Encourage them to learn about labor trends in the country that they aspire to work in. Guide them with career research, the standards of living and the realities of work in the real world. The world of work is not something that we join after university but rather it is a world that exists in parallel to our lives as students. We must immerse our young people with this world as early as possible. Talk to your children about your careers. Discuss how you made your career selection and together begin to discover their potential future career. Studies are now showing us that it will not be uncommon for a young adult to change their career seven or eight times before they retire. Gone are the days of a job for life. Are you familiar with this concept? Pensions, retirement and life span predictions are heavy indicators that young people are facing a very different future to the one that our parents prepared us for. Sit down with your children and discuss the realities of life as an employee, an employer and even an entrepreneur. Share what you understand work to be about and discover how the world of work is changing for them. Choose a school like Dubai English Speaking College who support your children with career attainment and encourage the world of work to partner with education. Make the school that you select for your child accountable. University is a platform towards skill preparation for future careers, but it is not the final destination for a young person. Stand up with your child and help them make their careers aspirations a reality.
Do you feel prepared to support your teenager with career attainment? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to help your child thrive and not simply career survive