Teachers & Careers AdvicePosted: 11th of May 2015 by
The Education Act of 2011 required all schools to offer careers advice and guidance to their students. However, with some schools lacking dedicated careers guidance professionals, teachers are often called upon to step in, but what level of advice can you expect from your teachers? Are they really able to help students make the right decisions for them, or are they being forced to fill a role for which they are simply not qualified? The role of teachers in providing careers advice has caused some concern, but when they work with other professionals it is clear that they can still provide a good service to their students.
Firstly, let’s look at the good things that teachers can bring to the careers guidance equation. Having built up relationships with their students, teachers will have an insight into the personalities of their students that is far greater than that of any outside careers guidance agency. This will allow teachers the unique position of being able to provide personalised advice to their students, and let’s not forget, as adults, teachers have had to make their own career decisions to get where they are.
This basic adult careers knowledge can be useful as a teacher will be able to use it to inform their students. However, it must also be tempered with a realisation that while going into teaching worked for them, it may not work for their students. Plus, of course, if a teacher went straight from school, to college, university, and into teacher training, they may not have built up a broad view of the labour market. It is here that they need to work with careers professionals in order to provide a balanced and inclusive view of work and the opportunities available to their students.
While the pastoral duties of teachers as trusted adults that students can approach with concerns will help when it comes to offering guidance, this should not be confused with genuine professional careers guidance. However, teachers can, perhaps use their subjects to provide an insight into the working world. Relating their subjects to the world of work is one way to do this, relating knowledge covered in the curriculum to workplace skills can help bridge the gap between school and employment. These skills can be specific or more general, such as writing and communication skills.
The key seems to be in recognising where teachers can act and when they need to refer their students to a more professional level of careers guidance. With the ultimate goal of teaching being to prepare students for when they leave school, there is definitely a role to be played by teachers in providing guidance and careers advice. This role may be to use their relationship with the students under their care to guide them towards a professional level of advice.
As trusted adults, teachers can certainly help students when it comes to making decisions that are right for them, so long as there is also a synergy with professional careers guidance. It is, of course, the duty of senior teaching professionals to make sure there is an established route from school into work advice that will suit each student regardless of their aspirations.
While teachers cannot replace or replicate the knowledge provided by trained career advice professionals, we should not discount the integral role that they can play in using their own skills and relationships to guide students towards the right path for them.
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