Post School Education and Training: Tips for the Part-time Careers Advisors
When a small child is asked what they want to be when they grow up, they rarely miss a beat before giving an answer and happily continuing with whatever they were doing, as likely as not each new day can bring a new answer. Do the same with a teenager and as often as not they freeze like a deer in the headlights, then their eyes dart around with that let me get out of here look. This is a hard question, the answer likely to evoke a judgement or require some detailed justification, the agony of being a teenager!
Parents and teachers wanting to help students pick the best course, whether VET or Uni, have an opportunity to be a great help provided they don’t, inadvertently, do the exact opposite.
Let’s not forget that a path directly into employment from school can be exactly the right choice
Tips for teachers
I think the keys are in being affirmative, reflective, accurate, imaginative and connected.
In many settings careers education has not been strongly resourced in recent times as leaving ages get later and other initiatives prove more attractive in the funding fights. Much of the advice from teachers comes from those who simply have a good relationship with a student, and it is often given on the fly.
Be Affirming: I never want to be the much-quoted educator who confidently judges that so and so will never amount to anything. Teachers are in the privileged position to be affirming, to acknowledge talents and skills.
Be Reflective: For the student you know well you can help them review earlier decisions around course selection and the consequences of these. Most importantly as a teacher you are in a good place to reflect with a student on what type of learner they are and look at the courses being considered.
Be Accurate: Relatively few teachers have had a VET or TAFE experience and their university experience is limited to one field. It is easy to do more harm than good when your knowledge is out of date.
Be Imaginative: Teachers can be a wealth of knowledge and have an ability to look outside the square when it comes to exploring all options. If the eventual work goal involves animals there are hundreds of options between dog groomer and Vet, the same is true in so many areas. Share what you know.
Be Connected: Referring a student to other students you or they have known with similar interests is a great strategy to bring quality information into the conversation.
Tips for parents
These around dialogue, research, responsibility, reflection and openness.
Dialogue: The small child I mentioned in the opening doesn’t suddenly turn into the teenager. Discussions about jobs, vocations and career paths used to be staples at family meals and straddle all ages.
Put the devices away, turn off the TV, sit down and talk on a regular basis from 5 years of age and up, it’s never too early to try to be at ease with such topics.
Research: TAFE and Uni open days, two or three semester schedules, transport options, starting and eventual salaries, accommodation, course times and allied work opportunities, entry requirements. All these things can be researched and change rapidly. When the research is shared the accuracy improves.
Responsibility: Who is really making this decision? Who is paying and does this have a bearing on the previous question? Better think out loud about these ones before going too far down the track to a choice.
Reflection: The type of learner your son or daughter is in their senior years of schooling is unlikely to change the following year, course selection should reflect what you know here. How does the institution stack up? Hopefully when you chose a school you considered how it supported faith, how inclusive it was, the quality of education, respect for the individual, service and social justice. Moving into the post school scene much of this is nurtured outside the institution but these are still worthwhile lenses to look at them through.
Openness: Like it or not the reality is that most young people today are embarking on just the first of several careers, each requiring new training. That your children are considering careers that you have not is most likely a great affirmation that you have succeeded and they are on their way to adulthood. Be supportive and take a bow.
Written by Michael Egan, Principal, LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown