17th November 2022

Guest blog: FED Learners’ Council on how to support children and young people into their dream careers

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet the Learners’ Council for the Foundation for Education Development (FED). I was so impressed with what I heard from these young leaders that I’ve asked them to share their thoughts on the future of skills. I want to see all children and young people getting the support they need to enter the world of work with the skills and information to match their high aspirations. 

Justin, 16 – Oasis Academy Hadley

Since young people can build and construct their futures from a young age when they have time to develop abilities, I believe it is beneficial for them to have support with their future occupations. 

I believe that schools should promote more clubs and extracurricular programmes that are centred on future careers that young people desire to enter and learn more about as they view it as a possible career path for them. In order to provide young people a better sense of their potential careers, they can also offer workshops of their choosing. If put in place, students now have greater choice of occupation since they can choose the careers they want to learn more about and gain experience for the jobs they desire in the future. 

Youth clubs may host events or activities that are career-focused and invite professionals in a particular field to speak to young people about professions. For young people to explore employment alternatives, businesses should also host open days and give a tour of the company to young people and an overview of the industry it represents (finance, economics, law, etc.). In general, more possibilities for young people to be helped with their future occupations should be in place because it offers them a head start and advantage to that dream job they want to pursue in the future. 

Esther, 16 – Fair Education Alliance Youth Steering Group

One way we can inspire and support young people into their dream careers is through offering them a wide range of courses and practical opportunities. The Conservative government has spent the last 12 years making cuts to the arts in state education, indicating the worrying lack of value that the government holds to arts qualifications, which has a tangible impact on young people across the country who are passionate about creativity through the arts.

By improving funding for subject areas such as music and drama at all schools, it would inspire young people to follow their passions, hopefully leading them to a career that they love and can thrive in. Further, by demonstrating to young people the plethora of job opportunities available within the arts, they might be more able to recognise that an area they are passionate about and find joy in, can become a career.  

Jumi, 16 – Fair Education Alliance Youth Steering Group

Young people are starting to become more unique and a new generation of a mix of different careers are starting to evolve. Nowadays in school there has been more emphasis on children progressing through STEM pathways, barely providing any input or information on creative industries. 

Students can gain an insight into their dream field of work through connections with major companies via work experience or Q&A sessions. This gives the young people a chance to listen to stories of successful careers and influence their own strategies to fulfilling their Ambitions. Most importantly, understanding the options available is crucial. An example of this would be career plans, this gives a clear picture of their future. Encouraging young people to take risks and be bold boosts self-esteem as well as fulfilling their dream careers. 

1-1 mentoring programmes have helped thousands of young people across the country in the past year. These included career advice, job research, networking opportunities etc. Mentors assist young people develop their self-confidence and take the initial steps towards accomplishing their aspirations by encouraging them to believe in themselves. 

Ultimately, young people would be best supported through concepts that encourage them to fulfil their full potential in their dream career. 

Elijah, 17 – Careers & Enterprise Company’s Youth Advisory Group

Young people are more aware than anyone of the new opportunities that technology can create, particularly in providing a window into the workplace and raising career aspirations and opportunities. Despite this there are still barriers to technology being used by those that need it most. 

Young people in alternative educational provision are often told they can do nothing more than scrape by. Many young people outside of mainstream education are not taught how to utilise resources that exist for them and aren’t expected to plan for the future or have high aspirations. It’s important we challenge these barriers and open opportunity for all. 

As I completed my GCSEs, I was aware of lots of schemes that could enable me to achieve my goals, and technology that could make this an easier experience; but I quickly found most resources available were geared to those with a typical educational experience in mainstream schools. Programmes I felt would greatly benefit me had entrance requirements I was unable to meet, through no fault of my own. 

 The chance for all young people to be ambitious and achieve their dream career will only be possible with a greater appreciation of what people that experience alternative education will need in order to be on a level playing field with those that experience mainstream schooling. 

Sumaiya Mohbubul, 20 – Foundation for Education Development Learners Council

Whether it be teachers at schools, parents at home, or companies who want to help the future generation, we all want to find the best way to support children. We try our best to provide exposure, we try our best to help those who are disadvantaged. We do what we can to ignite a spark in children and to show them their future possibilities. However, we can only do so much when we, ourselves, lack information on the vast opportunities that are truly out there. Children must have opportunities that they can take to help them secure the career they want and if we do not have that information, how can children? 

Hence why I think children should have teachers or advisors who are able to provide them with such information. The same information about opportunities that students in private schools might get. Information such as knowing that spring insights exist, STEM hackathons, poetry/literature competitions, various trade courses, all exist. Whatever a student is interested in, nurturing these interests are so vital. Sometimes we are so focused on solely passing exams that we forget learning can be enjoyable and rewarding. We forget that there are great opportunities out there. If us adults can do something so simple as searching up fields a child is interested in, sending a link to a child about an opportunity, and helping them apply to take part – it truly can open doors for that child.  

Thank you to Justin, Esther, Jumi, Elijah, and Sumaiya for sharing their thoughts – after all, young people are the real experts on where they want to go and what help they need to get there.