I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school, having only received 1 session of careers advice. The session consisted of a short interview whereby Mr Careers Guide asked me a series of questions, then wrote down my answers verbatim on a planning template (this was 2002, after all). At the end, I had a sheet of paper that formalised the mixed up thinking that was occurring in my head; the session had been a waste of both of our time. The only step missing from the action plan was “throw this sheet of paper in the bin”.
The one thing my school told me was compulsory was a university education. This was the destination of choice for the sort of people who wanted to “make something of their lives”; not the other sort; the ones who got funnelled into some watered down half-brother of education, consigned to the scrapheap of aspiration, never to make anything of themselves (many of whom are now making more money than their university brethren). University was a must. I subsequently defaulted and travelled to Australia, to play cricket and learn to stand on my own two feet. Feeling isolated in my career decision making process, I had done my best to avoid the issue. Upon return to the UK, I was more independent and had matured, but was still none the wiser in my aspirations and how to achieve them. However, I followed through on the university dream, achieved a First Class degree in Chemistry and graduated at the top of my year. I was therefore (more mature, but hugely naive!) puzzled to find that I was still struggling to be noticed by graduate recruiters. The whole process was soul destroying.
The world of careers guidance and support has been turned on its head in recent years. The responsibility of career services’ funding and provision has shifted to our educational institutions, with services such as Connexions becoming obsolete. Inevitably, this has led to a disparity across the country in the robustness and quality of provision. Heads of establishments are grappling with how best to administer careers services as an integral part of their students’ education, whilst still dealing with the pressures of delivering their core curriculum. It is hard to do careers education full justice when the responsibility falls on staff who have little training in careers and already full timetables.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) announced, on the 24th March, a 6 point plan to overhaul careers guidance in school and colleges, thus ensuring that the provision for our young people is of high quality and fit for purpose. The plan stresses the importance of placing the young person firmly at the centre, with their needs considered above those of the institute. The plan outlines means of addressing aspiration, social mobility and range of choice. The points outlined are as follows: –
· Careers education and advice should be part of the curriculum and be led by a senior leader.
· Partnerships should be built with businesses to give young people work experience and other opportunities to help better prepare them for work.
· Young people should be given opportunities to speak to the full range of education and training establishments, and employers, so they can make the best decision on what is right for them.
· Parents and carers should be encouraged to participate in the decision-making process by inviting them to activities and events such as option evenings and careers fairs.
· Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds should be given help and support to raise their aspirations, confidence and skills, through access to role models who can provide information and advice, and opportunities for work-related learning.
· Staff providing careers information and advice should receive regular professional training to keep them up-to-date with labour market information and qualification pathways.
This code resonates strongly with us here at Kloodle, as the points echo our founding principles. We created Kloodle to give young people the chance to showcase and evidence their skills, qualifications and extra curricular achievements, in order to access career opportunities they thought were beyond their reach. We are creating a network that allows young people to access a world where, at every turn, they exclaim “I didn’t know I could do that!”
By following (on Kloodle) and engaging with a wide range of the country’s most prestigious employers, as well as local SME employers, students gain information about a wide range of careers they did not know existed. We are building a platform that allows educational institutions to seamlessly integrate employers into their careers education processes, incorporating both employers with which the college or school has an existing relationship, and those who have stand alone profiles on the site. Kloodle provides college students a place to interact with potential employers; a channel through which young people can access opportunities and help them to fulfil their career aspirations.
We know that our schools and colleges are working endlessly to deliver world class education to our young people; providing access to extra curricular activities that engender soft skills and employability. We also know that employers are looking for students who possess soft skills such as team working and problem solving in addition to academic qualifications. Too often, students do not realise that the teamwork skills they build through playing school sport can be as important as the A* they achieve in their Physics A Level.
Kloodle supports students to develop a”skills mentality”. Our students’ profiles enable them to showcase these skills through blogs, photos, videos and work documents. At every turn, they should be cultivating their employability and showcasing themselves to future employers through their Kloodle Profile. For example, by snapping a presentation they give during class on their iPhone and uploading it to their Kloodle profile, students can continuously reinforce the soft skills they are developing on their course. By evidencing such skills in a strong and meaningful way, we provide young people with a means to tell their story, a means to stand out from the crowd.
Increasing numbers of colleges, for example Holy Cross College in Bury, are integrating Kloodle into their core curriculum.Their students are encouraged to upload information to their individual Kloodle profiles, so that they are continually evidencing their employability. In addition, their students have access to careers information posted by organisations on Kloodle, for example, a video on how to pursue an apprenticeship with Balfour Beatty, a blog written by the college on how to be great at an interview, or a status from a university alerting them to the next open day for a rage of courses.
By creating a network where careers stakeholders rub shoulders, we aim to fuel aspiration. We want to encourage young people, regardless of their background, to think “I could do that job!”, the attitude to “just go for it”. There is much talk about the challenges around Social Mobility, whereby young people, regardless of their economic backgrounds can aspire to climb the career ladder, if they have the gumption, skills and work ethic to do so. A Kloodle profile allows young people to evidence to future employers that they have got the skills, aptitude, work ethic and drive to succeed.
Many employers who use Kloodle are as in interested in the skills and extra curricular achievements of students as they are in the students’ exam grades. These two are not mutually exclusive, but there is a call from employers for young people to demonstrate that they are capable of thinking creatively, solving problems, innovating and working as part of a team. Employers are greatly enthused by students’ stories, told through blogs, photos and videos. This information provides employers with insights into a young person’s characteristics, personality and their future potential as an employee.
The Foundation Code produced by the 8 member bodies is music to Kloodle ears, we share the same vision and aspirations for our young talent. We believe that careers and employability should be a cornerstone of our education system. We believe that employers, students and education institutions should be rubbing shoulders in a dynamic community designed to fuel aspiration. We believe that, despite the dedicated and talented professionals who inhabit our schools, diversity in background and opinion of the people who offer career advice is key to getting to the crux of what our young people want to do. The greater number of options we can expose them to, we increase our chances of finding something that resonates strongly.
The Code represents a blueprint from which a world class careers education system, supporting the UK’s emerging talent, can be developed, implemented and become the envy of the EU. The use of Kloodle by FE colleges will facilitate these values…… and add a little more.
You can download a copy of the Code here http://www.ascl.org.uk/utilities/document-summary.html?id=C893DB30-3C43-4131-99E7D90050BCC6B6