How effectively do schools prepare young people for employment?

2016-05-03 08:00:33 | Uncategorized

This week we have a post from guest blogger and MINT young person Sophie Burrows. Sophie has chosen to write about a topic relevant to her that she feels it is important to have discussions about.

‘I’ve found in recent years that schools seem to be more positive when it comes to preparing students for employment, in that they all seem to want to portray it as one of their strengths. But the question is: Is what they’re doing enough?

Times have changed since even the youngest teacher in a school was in secondary education and the competition for employment is as fierce as ever, something I feel is not quite drilled into students enough. It’s alright to be told by teachers that it’s ‘hard’ to get a job and that there are sometimes hundreds of applicants for every position, but students need to be shown this in some way to truly understand.

When I was in years 10 and 11, the only job application process preparation I was given was in a class called ‘Preparation for Working Life’. I think all schools should have a class like this in their curriculum, however I feel like the class content needs to be widened. I feel like students in my year (including me) didn’t take this class seriously enough, and saw it as an opportunity to catch up with their friends or to mess around.

As for identifying possible career paths, I remember being told to go to helpyouchoose.org and doing a quiz to find out which job I would be best suited to. While this may be a bit of fun, it wasn’t beneficial when I was trying to find a career path that interested me, as I ended up being recommended jobs in sectors that I have no interest in. That was about as far as it went for helping me find a possible job interest. That includes trying to help me identify any possible strengths I may have that could lead to finding what job I may be interested in.

When explaining the job application process we were told about the basic ‘apply then interview’ process. What we weren’t told was how many interchangeable parts of the process there were that companies may or may not use. For example, telephone interviews, group interviews, tests in interviews. All of which came as a surprise when I experienced them for the first time when trying to get a job. Even when trying to explain the basic interview we weren’t told what type of questions would be asked or how many people would be interviewing us or really anything that would give us a good idea as to what to expect in an interview.

It’s all very well and good to complain in a blog post about how I was prepared for employment, if you can call my experience ‘preparation’. But schools need to be told what they can do to improve. In my opinion, the main point is that schools need to be more thorough in just about every aspect of their preparation. Students need to be guided towards trying to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are (and how to work on these). They need to be properly shown what an interview will be like and what they can expect to happen. This means more than showing a YouTube video of an interview.

I think it would be good to have a Q&A session where students ask any questions they have to teachers that would be answered in front of the class. Students should also be made to practise interviewing with each other (and to make sure they’re actually doing the task rather than talking about the upcoming weekend). It would also be a good idea to have help with making a CV, as at that age the students are not likely to have any work experience and may be confused as to what they can put on it.

I think it is so important to prepare students for employment so they know what to expect when applying for jobs, as I remember how daunted I felt when I realised I had no idea what I was doing when applying for jobs. Hopefully the employment preparation provided in schools will improve so the future generation of students are more knowledgeable than I was going into employment.’

We’d be really interested to hear your views, so feel free to email astra.richardson@ccn.ac.uk or tweet us @mint-norwich.

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