How do we teach our students about careers? What are we doing to engage them in their future?
One of the reasons why I failed school the first time around, was because I never knew what the end game really was. I thought I would be a professional footballer and the rest would be history. There really was no means to an end. I found it very hard to connect with anything that I was learning. At 15-16, I felt it was part of the makeup of growing up. I never brought school into it and that was evident from the GCSE results I achieved. That was not fun.
From the impression I got the other day, nothing much seems to have changed regarding careers advice since I was at school (1998). Fast forward a few years and the experience learners received when I was an Assistant Headteacher at my last school wasn't all that different in all honesty.
The only way I can describe it is "Dry".
Not all things can be dynamite and exciting, but career advice and services really should! It's so important to love what you do and that should be something to get learners really excited about. Most people are in jobs they hate or in a job purely to pay the bills. At 15-16 onwards, it is an incredible opportunity to inspire and get learners to think about the endless opportunities that will present themselves in the coming years.
We have every right to be optimistic that today, by the time learners leave school, will in fact be creating jobs themselves for industries that probably don't even exist yet. With the speed at which change is happening, maybe Careers Services in school lack the confidence, knowledge, ideas and even the passion to make it an integral part of helping learners connect the dots through school. Maybe they do not have the budget, or support from the Senior Leaders, but whatever it is they need, they should get it - because it's just so important. It's a pivotal role in school and requires evangelism and raw passion!
As a Classroom Practitioner, and now CEO & Founder of Satchel, I've been at both sides of the table from a teaching, as well as a hiring, perspective. I've not been able to see the significance until I've really had this opportunity to be an employer. One of my biggest challenges at the moment is hiring and building the team to support our growing number of teachers, students and parents.
I've heard and read about CEOs of larger multi-nationals who talk publicly about the skills gap and difficulties of hiring young people. It really is challenging.
I have a few different points of views I'd like to share. Firstly, I don't believe learners are at fault in any way. I believe it’s our fault for not making it abundantly clear what it takes to get a job in the real world and what skills are required. It takes a lot more than just a GCSE in English and Maths. You need character. The market is competitive, it is demanding and there are no short cuts. This is even more poignant when you are just starting your career. Beyoncé didn't get to sing in front of 50,000 people on day one at Madison Square Gardens. Beckham didn't play in the United First Team on day one. The newly appointed CEO, Satya Nadella, didn't become CEO on day one, he spent 18 years paying his dues and working hard to build his reputation at Microsoft. My point is, in order to succeed there are no short cuts and there seems to be a myth about the reality of being able to earn £50k a year and having a big job title from day one.
I heard a quote from Lord Young's speech at a TechStars event recently and he talked about how the UK Government specify SMEs as a 200 person organisation. The reality is 95.5% of all SMEs are between 5-15 people. The skills needed to work in a 5-15 person team are very, very different to just being a number in a 200 person team.
With the stats balanced like this, we really need to think about equipping our learners with the skills they need to succeed in these small and growing SMEs. This is where the opportunity really is for future employment.
At Satchel, this is what I look for above anything else. The names of the people in brackets are famous footballers who, in my opinion, exhibit these qualities (we hope).
- Work ethic (Lampard)
- Good values (Scholes)
- Integrity (Gerrard)
- Humility (Xavi)
- Good attitude (Lineker)
- Honesty (Neville)
- Courage (Ince)
- Empathy (Beckham)
- A zest for learning (Mata)
- Passion (Pearce)
- Team Player (Messi)
One quality missing from this list is resilience. It seems to be fashionable right now, but it is a common trait for success. Quite often in professional and personal relationships, the journey ahead is never as smooth as one hopes it to be. Hiccups and difficult times are part of the experience and it's key we encourage learners to realise that this is part of the life.