How well are schools preparing kids for the workforce?

by Robert Ballantyne08 Jun 2016

Preparing young people for the workforce they’ll enter after school is crucial, but are enough schools succeeding in this area?
A recent survey of Australian counsellors by a major career planning provider, Hobsons, found that only 5% of Year 7 students are receiving exposure to tertiary education and careers, where as in other countries education programs are being developed for this age group.
David Savill, Hobson’s vice-president of advising and admissions APAC, told The Educator how the company’s K-12 college and career readiness platform, Naviance, is improving students’ engagement in their learning.
“We believe it is important that schools devote more attention to career and tertiary study readiness helping students understand themselves and aspire to careers that match their strengths,” Savill said.
“Attention should also be devoted to helping students set goals, understand the connection between school and these aspirations, and finally select the best next step after leaving secondary school.
Savill added that Naviance was built around this very process.
Naviance is designed to connect students, and their parents, to their school’s careers advisor/teachers who help that student throughout the process of understanding themselves, then selecting careers of interest and finally a tertiary study destination, such as TAFE, university or a private provider.
“We are seeing improved post-secondary participation upwards of 60% in low socio-economic areas, and we know that one way to help address this is to bring careers education to younger students,” he said.
“If we were to choose one thing, bringing this awareness to younger students would surely make a difference.”
Schools urged to reflect on their curriculum
Skilling Australia CEO, Nicholas Wyman, told The Educator that there are too many children not reaching Year 12, and even when they are, they’re not doing very well academically.
“We need to ask ‘whose fault is this?’ Schools need to look at the way deliver their curriculum and ask whether it is engaging and suitable for all students,” he said.
In March, Wyman travelled to the US where he visited six schools in four states. He said many employers in Australia and the US share a common problem: they can’t find people with the skills they need to fill modern, technical jobs.
“These are jobs that require academic and technical training in specific fields – such as healthcare, IT and even finance – but also require workplace skills such as problem-solving, creativity, commitment, reliability, communication and teamwork.”
Not just another ‘self-guided careers resource’
There are currently close to 200 schools using Hobson’s services throughout Australia, a number Savill expects to grow thanks to its
“Naviance is unique in the Australian marketplace, and perhaps globally, in that it seeks to be more than just another self-guided careers/education book or website,” he explained.
“While we think these are valuable resources and will continue to have a place in the market, we feel there is something missing in K-12 schools to help drive the careers education process.”
Savill added that Naviance can become a platform which is used to integrate careers outcomes into the school’s curriculum and provides a delivery engine for that content.
“We know that integrating careers into the curriculum is the best outcome for students, but this is often not done due to the lack of a platform to centre this activity around,” he said.
“Naviance fills this need while also providing rich content alongside its career and education development tools.”