When I left the crazy world of ad agencies to focus on my growing preoccupation with children's Career Development, I thought people would get it. I thought people would say ‘wow that’s an amazing area to get into, it really needs to improve’ or ‘yep, with the looming tidal wave of automation, we absolutely have to change how we prepare our kids for their lives’....
Instead, I saw initial confusion followed quickly by the polite but unconvincing smiles normally reserved for opening awful presents. On prompting, people vaguely remember sitting in the back room of the school library, filling in a form that gave them their hilarious career ‘answer’ which appears in most cases to have had as much value or influence on them as asking a Magic 8 ball. People seem to have just accepted that Career Development for children and young adults is of little value and are happy to have their unique and cherished offspring stumble through the system one decision at a time, dictated not by themselves or their flourishing interests and strengths but by when the education system says it’s time to decide.
Career Development professionals that I talked to were equally bewildered at why I was leaving the glam world of ad agencies with our cool sneakers, funky warehouse spaces and jetsetting lifestyle. Most of the people I studied Career Development with were teachers, restricted in their role by a lack of resources at best or more worryingly a lack of passion as they’d been pushed into the role for other reasons.
2016 was a year of explaining my move to a lot of people. I thought summarising it would be a good place to start 2017. This is what I said.
I believe that for children and adolescents, thinking about their role in the adult world of infinite possibility should be the most exciting and inspiring thing they can think about. We don’t make it that way.
To successfully navigate 21st Century careers, children and young adults need to learn to broadly explore the changing world around them and their changing self and bring these two together in creative and unique ways to create potential futures that they can get excited about, test out and refine throughout their lives as the world around them and they themselves continually change.
We know from research that children who can conjure up a positive vision for themselves are more engaged academically and socially as well as achieving better educational and vocational outcomes later on. It’s like a hook they can use to pull themselves through the tricky years of exam and social pressures. It’s also widely recognised that the primary school years are the critical foundation period for acquiring these skills. Despite all the evidence, most countries still focus on a one off, just in time decision about the single step after school. Too little, too late.
The latest academic research and theory in Career Development is solid and progressive but it’s not reaching children fast enough. Knowing how fast technological waves are breaking over whole industries, it’s absolutely crucial that we step this up. We can’t, and shouldn't, leave it to schools while they’re evaluated primarily on test scores.
I started BEcoME to close the gap between research and practice, building inspiring products and services that make the Career Development experience enjoyable and create more valued, more relevant outcomes. BEcoME will help schools and parents raise kids who are ready to successfully ride the inevitable waves of change.
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Posted by Liv Pennie.