Schools Training

Teachers do know about work, but careers advice is for specialists

12 MAR 2014

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Teachers, according to Vince Cable, are the “underlying problem” with poor careers advice in this country because they “know nothing about the world of work”. His comments were guaranteed to infuriate teachers, but they also betray a fundamental muddling of what is meant by the “world of work” and careers advice.

It’s insulting to suggest teachers don’t know about work. Every day they demonstrate the employability skills that relate to any job: timekeeping; meeting deadlines; giving presentations; writing appropriately for different media and audiences and so on.

But careers advice is more about understanding what options will be available in the future and how to prepare. Teachers should be able to explain to their students why the subject they are studying is relevant to achieve their long-term goals: why, for instance, the creativity involved in studying art can be useful in careers such as manufacturing. But asking them to have a full and comprehensive knowledge of all careers in all industries is unreasonable, especially without any support, training or guidance. That is a role for a careers adviser.

Clumsiness aside, Cable does recognise there is a massive problem. He admits: “There has been argument in government about how to get the right careers advice in schools and successive governments have frankly messed this up.”

He’s right. Michael Gove made it clear in his evidence to the education select committee that careers advisers should be treated with derision and that Connexions was a disaster, but provided no viable alternative. Throwing the baby out with the bath water has resulted in the blame game we’re now seeing played out in public.

So who should be responsible for guiding our children to ensure they take the qualifications required for the career path they desire?


Read full article: The Guardian