Let’s be clear from the start.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your students knowing what they want to do when they enter the world of work. If you have a student who already knows that it’s his/her calling to be a nurse, or a teacher, then that’s great, and they should be actively encouraged to take the next steps to find the right training or post-secondary path to get them there.
But for many students, the journey to finding the right career path is a lot more complex. As they proceed from middle year education and into the final years of secondary school, a young person’s hopes, dreams and ambitions will be constantly in flux, or may still be in the process of being formed.
And that’s okay. The Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said “the only true wisdom is in admitting you know nothing”. If your students are starting their career journey from a place of knowing nothing about their future profession, that’s a perfectly respectable place to begin. If they need more guidance, there are a few insights you can offer them.
Reframe the question
Instead of asking students to consider “what do I want to do?”, encourage them to think about the question “what am I good at?”. A career path defined by a core personal skill set is likely to be far more rich, life-affirming and, perhaps most importantly, open to adaptation and change in later life.
If your students are led by their strengths, skills and interests, then this can help to inform what subjects they choose in their later years of secondary school, especially if you are dealing with a curriculum where there is a greater or lesser degree of specialisation (e.g. IBDP or A-levels). This in turn will give them valuable insight into the right post-secondary options for them. Who knows? The right career path might present itself when they’re least expecting it.
Your Career Might Change
A recent European Commission report entitled ‘The Future of Work’ predicted that “people will have to increasingly learn new skills to remain employable throughout their working life…they will be increasingly likely to change employers, jobs, employment status and professional status numerous times”. This same report also found that young graduates are increasingly likely to stay in a job role for a shorter amount of time, and concludes that future graduates could have “15-20 jobs in a lifetime”
And whilst it’s true that moving jobs is not the same as drastically changing career path, there is general consensus that your students are entering a job market where reskilling and retraining are going to be fundamental to their future. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a job for life.