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Skills that teachers have no words to describe

If you want to jump ship, the craft you've learnt in the classroom may be your springboard, writes Phil Revell

Changing jobs is never easy, but many teachers are reluctant to consider the benefits of moving on. "I'd love to," they say. "But all I can do is teach." Such an attitude ignores job reality. As the recent Price Waterhouse Coopers workload study revealed, teachers do considerably more than just teach.

"We should recognise that it's now a management job," says John Scott, a director with Manpower, the recruitment specialists. "Teaching requires management skills - it's about time that was presented as a positive."

In a typical day a teacher is an administrator, police officer, social worker, mentor, counsellor and manager. Teaching sometimes has to be slipped in around the edges.

"Teachers have great presentational and promotional skills," says Mel Wilde, a former deputy head of a sixth form college. "We're comfortable with standing up in front of a crowd - that's a skill. We have publishing skills too - copywriting, proofreading, editing. Teachers learn how to multi-task and they can handle a great deal of stress."

In industry the key management skill is managing change. "But what else have teachers been doing for the last 20 years?" she asks.

What is missing, say recruitment specialists, is the vocabulary to describe the skills teachers take for granted. Employers are interested in things like project management, budget responsibilities, recruitment drives, experience of promotion and marketing. "Teachers do those things," says Ms Wilde. "But they don't necessarily label them like that."

Teachers looking to dip their toe in another world need not fear the consequences. If the worst came to the worst they could always return to teaching, where, as the headlines remind us, there's something of a shortage.

But which job? Which career? People looking for advice on this one might be advised to wander down to the careers library. Every secondary school will have one and a well- equipped one is likely to have a copy of Kudos.

"It's the most common piece of careers guidance software," says Adrian Mateo from Cascaid, which markets the program. It offers job information, with video clips, photographs, active web links, salary details - but the core of the programme is the profile questionnaire. This takes about 20 minutes to half an hour and asks questions about your interests, likes and dislikes. It then produces a print-out of career paths you can look at for more information.

Kudos is aimed at pupils. If people are serious about looking beyond their job they should book an appointment at their job centre or careers office and look at Kudos's big brother, Adult Directions.

"People sometimes do it for confirmation," says Mr Mateo."They wonder whether they are in the right job. Sometimes it's challenging: jobs will come up in the print-out and people will say: 'I'd have never thought of that'."

Six years ago I did a lunchtime Kudos session that suggested journalist, outdoor pursuits instructor and teacher as the first three ideas for me. I'd taught for 16 years, I enjoyed canoeing and walking and, as a teenager, I'd wanted to be a journalist. The program seemed to know what it was doing.

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