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'How teachers can bring the world of work to life for young people'

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Do you remember the careers advice you received at school? Did you receive the guidance you needed to make an informed decision? Did you understand all of the opportunities and paths available to you? A recent survey found that young people increasingly prefer to consult social media networks and Google for advice on their future – but is this the best route open to them? Are these new methods providing young people with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their future or will they end up more confused than ever?

It is encouraging to see young people taking charge of their futures and finding new ways to discover careers that interest them. However, these new methods need to go alongside professional and active advice and support, and teachers must continue to take responsibility for being one of the key sources that students turn to for guidance.

Of course, this is no mean feat, and teachers already face immense pressures. That is just one reason why I think we need more partnership between education and the world of work. We need modern models of careers education that are fit for the 21st century and ensure that students better understand the world of work and are supported in their career choices.

The expectations of business and employers need to become a regular element in school life, rather than something that young people discover only once they enter the world of work.

We will not be successful in developing the next generation of skilled employees that our economy needs if there is no connection between what young people learn in school and the world of work outside the school gates.

Young people need to understand and be inspired by the exciting options available to them, as well as receiving the advice and guidance they need to build a successful career. One method teachers can use is to create opportunities for businesses to engage directly with the workforce of tomorrow, to bring the world of work to life for young people and inspire their career choices and future route to employment. By working actively to ensure that young people fully understand the world of work, we can make sure that they have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their future careers. 

Bringing these two areas together will be no easy task, and it is something that educators cannot do on their own – it calls for a nationwide campaign that will build strong links between business and education. Events like The Skills Show, which give young people the opportunity to talk directly to a broad range of employers of all sizes, are a perfect example of the two sectors working closely and effectively together.

Teachers can also take responsibility for expanding their own knowledge of the wide range of options available to their pupils in the modern economy. Whether students want to become plumbers, engineers, designers or chefs, or have yet to find their career inspiration, there are a variety of paths to consider, both academic and vocational. Teachers need to be aware of the options available in the world of work today and those predicted for the near future, and tailor their advice and guidance accordingly.

Delivering careers advice may now be a statutory requirement for educators, but it need not be an onerous task. The Skills Show, the nation’s largest skills and careers event, takes place at the NEC Birmingham from 19 to 21 November, and is expected to host 75,000 visitors over three days.

Its unique format, which combines the opportunity to try a number of hands-on experiences in a broad range of skills with the chance to meet employers, staff from FE colleges, training providers and careers professionals, has been proven to inspire young people and help them to make the career choice that suits them best.

The Skills Show provides teachers with the opportunity to improve their own knowledge and understanding of the world of work. The Staff Room is a dedicated space within The Skills Show which is there to offer educators free advice, resources and seminars.

Teachers who are looking to ensure their careers advice is relevant and has real impact do not need to face the challenge alone. The Skills Show is the ideal resource to support teachers in delivering effective careers guidance in schools, and ensure young people are well prepared to take their first steps into the world of work.

To book your free place for this year’s show visit:

Carole Stott is the chair of the Association of Colleges (AoC) and Find a Future, and can be found tweeting at @CaroleStott

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