ROUND UP A step change for careers advice in schools


he recent announcement of a trial of fleets of driverless HGVs on Britain’s motorways is yet another reminder of the rapid pace of the digital revolution and its impact on the world of work. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will lead to the automation, not just of repetitive manual tasks, but of roles in a whole raft of sectors such as accountancy, banking and law.

Ensuring young people are prepared for jobs which don’t currently exist is a challenge. What skills do young people need and what information, advice and guidance do they need to prepare them for a jobs market where they compete with robots?

The Edge Foundation is an independent education charity; we believe that practical and technical skills and knowledge are as important, and as valuable, as academic learning. We believe all young people should have the opportunity to study art, drama or Design & Technology. Not just because creative and technical subjects are an essential part of a coherent and holistic education, but because they enable young people to develop the skills which robots can’t replicate – such as communication, team-building, resilience. The careers landscape is increasingly complex and difficult to navigate, which is why Edge

launched Career Footsteps in 2015. Working with our partners, the Education and Employers Taskforce, who deliver the very successful Inspiring the Future programme, we match schools with professionals who can talk about their jobs and careers, and share their experience and insight with students in the classroom. Our focus is on professionals who have experience of practical or technical learning; such as an apprenticeship, qualifications through Further Education or perhaps going into work and then completing a degree apprenticeship. A Career Footsteps event might have a ‘speed dating’ format or for younger children something like ‘What’s My Line?’; most importantly it gives ‘children an insight into different career paths’.

“It offers a wealth of fantastic industry experience for schools to engage with, introducing a range of career opportunities and ideas to our students. We know that interactions here may well change the course of our students’ futures.”

Last year, 331 volunteers with experience of professional or technical learning took part, representing a wide breadth of sectors: architects, CEOs, civil servants, planners, project managers, medical staff, finance analysts and a Formula 1 mechanic. They connected with over 17,500 young people in primary and secondary schools across the country broadening horizons and young minds. Over 82 per cent of teachers said they found the event useful or very useful and 100 per cent said they would do it again. Young people who have first-hand careers information make more effective transitions into further or higher education, an apprenticeship or employment. Furthermore, research shows that each opportunity for profound employer engagement, such as a talk from a professional, will equate to an extra 1.6 per cent on that person’s salary in the future.

For young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, it can help to compensate for the

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lack of social capital their better off peers benefit from. For the majority of students, it will show that they have a range of options, many which they probably would never have heard of.

“It was inspiring [for them] meeting a successful professional and listening to her own personal journey to success.”

The Careers Footsteps’ service is free and schools get all the help and support they need to host a successful event. Teachers tell us their students benefit and events can be the focus of a careers information, advice and guidance programme.

“It was most useful having a diverse range of professionals who are engaging, know what is happening right now in their sectors and can pass on employability skills.”

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