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Why a focus on careers education is more important than ever

By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education

By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education


The pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the education of young people around the world, and severely depleted work experience opportunities for students. A skills supply mismatch is also being magnified by the rapid pace of innovation, and as technology continues to permeate an increasing number of roles, there is a widespread need to ensure that those entering the employment market are equipped – as much as possible – with the skills needed to tackle talent shortages.

How Hays Inspire can help

In response, in partnership with schools and leading employers such as Amey and Computacenter, we have launched Hays Inspire, a free-of-charge learning programme that will provide pupils with an informative and realistic insight into possible career pathways, with advice from leading employers regarding the skills needed to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.

The lesson plans – consisting of comprehensive guidance notes, video content and student worksheets – are initially targeted at year groups 6, 9 and 10/11, helping schools to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks and deliver effective, unbiased information to pupils on their post-16 opportunities. We hope that by harnessing the potential of the collaborative role educators and organisations can play in providing career insights for future generations, students will be armed with the knowledge they need to make informed choices, avail themselves of opportunities and realise their future ambitions.

So what can educators do to foster inspiration amongst students regarding the world of work, and how can careers education be used to empower positive change?

  • Contextualise the work students do. Students are much more likely to engage with teaching if it is given some wider contextual meaning. The link between what they are learning and possible routes into the world of work is not only motivating, but will help them understand how theoretical concepts can be applied to practical, real-world contexts.
  • Ask students about their aspirations. Needless to say, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not the right fit when it comes to career guidance, and the aspirations and dreams of all students will be different. Approaching the subject individually with learners should take the form of open questioning, and could include questions such as:
  • What do you feel you’re good at, and what do you enjoy?
  • Have you thought about what job you’d like to do in the future?
  • Would you like to find out more about your intended career?
  • Emphasise different paths. To make careers education as inclusive as possible, and help learners envision themselves in a job, you should make it clear that there is not always one route or pathway to the career they aspire to. It’s important that students don’t feel alienated by conventional routes to work, and there are a multitude of non-academic possibilities, such as vocational courses, apprenticeships and internships, that they can take.
  • Soft skills are key. The knowledge and capabilities we develop throughout our time in early years education are not necessarily those that will bring us career success. Much of the time, our education helps us to develop the competencies needed to perform certain tasks, such as mathematics or foreign languages. While these are extremely valuable, the most prevalent gaps often lie in the development of ‘soft skills’, such as critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Break it down. Try to incorporate careers education into the curriculum wherever you can, even if it’s for ten minute ‘bitesize’ sessions. Hays Inspire was created specifically to be easily adapted to a range of timeframes and audiences, whether for a short video watch for Year 6, or a 45 minute lesson, including worksheets and plenaries for Year 11.

Hays Inspire is a completely free platform available for all primary and secondary school’s – with a number of schools and MATs who have already signed up.

Leading infrastructure services and engineering company, Amey, who have already signed to provide content for Hays Inspire, say: “Amey are proud partners of Hays Inspire, to help provide career advice, inspiration and insights into our world of work. We see the true value and importance of bringing education and employment together, to help solve the engineering skills shortage and inspire our next generation. As a large Engineering and Infrastructure company, we have an important role to play in giving young people direct exposure to the innovative and thriving engineering industry, promoting the various career paths and ultimately for young people to aspire to work in this industry”. – Sarah Hale, Social Value Manager, Amey

To get started with Hays Inspire and begin raising aspirations and inspiring future careers, visit our Hays Inspire page or reach out to your local consultant.

Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education

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