As part of our efforts to show students the links between languages and the wider world of work (our school has language college status), we decided to organise a language focus careers evening. I spoke to about 100 organisations in the area, looking especially for those who valued language skills in the work place and who could get across the message that language skills matter.
I used contacts we already had and found others through the Yellow Pages, the West Kent business partnership and jobs advertisements. We had about 30 exhibitors, mostly local companies with a few government organisations and further and higher education institutions. We invited our own students and parents and also those from other local secondary schools. Around 300 people turned up for the event,and we had display stands in the school hall and in classrooms. Participants included representatives from professional areas such as accountancy, media, law, finance, the Army, engineering and advertising.
Many companies were doing increasing work with Europe. They gave our young people information about overseas opportunities, professional development and how languages could be useful in many of their companies. Students said it helped them see the links between languages and other subjects, for example, how you could use maths and languages in accountancy, and that they now recognised that language skills as a key factor in employability, not only in the travel business, as interpreters or in teaching.
Hazel Allan, connexions coordinator at The Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls, Tonbridge Kent