Do you ever get the feeling that careers education should cover more than it does? I was in a meeting recently when it was pointed out to me that what I was suggesting was an “old school” view of HE careers work based around helping people manage careers over their life span. The world had moved on I was told and now we are all about employability and destinations, getting students in to graduate level jobs within six months of graduating. I’ve been thinking in light of this about some of the things I feel that either society or individuals would benefit if careers education (at any stage) were to cover but currently tends to veer away from. I have a list of 10.
1) Ethics – I feel often we talk about values but not ethics. Values tends to be about what we want to have in life while ethics is more about what we should do or what we shouldn’t have. But I feel part of development is gaining a sense of right and wrong, we tend not to pose this question in careers education irrespective of how a student may answer it.
2) Understanding Economics- Where do jobs actually come from? When we say we are in recession what does that actually mean? And what would it mean for me? I feel that these and other economic are vital questions and that economics can help students understand and demystify the world around them.
3) History of Work – Has a job always been what it is today? In what ways has it changed? are these changes good or bad? Like economics History helps us understand and more than this helps us participate in discussion about the future. Economics and History of work together would help students be active members of society articulate about what work should be like.
4) The Environment – My fear for my children and potential grand children is that they will look at my life and be disappointed about how ignorant I was about the environmental impact of my life. I feel that part of making realistic decisions should be thinking through what effect our jobs may or may not have on the world around us,
5) Trade Unionism – Encouraging students to join a union may seem a bit biased and political to some but what I want to advocate is more helping students understand trade unionism and come to an informed decision about it. Trade unionism is an important source of support for many and students should consider how they want their careers to relate to this movement.
6) Employment Law – Shouldn’t educated young people going in to the workplace know their rights? It seems to be me very obvious and just part of a responsible education that students should know legally how they are obliged to behave and how others are obliged to treat them.
7) Spirituality – Spirituality and education tend not to get along and yet the belief in something or someone beyond ourselves which effects our lives is a part of many people’s lives. How spirituality may effect and enhance our careers seems like a worth while discussion. Robert Pryor and Jim Bright have written an excellent chapter on this in their book “Chaos Theory of Careers.”
8) Civic Engagement – Increasingly we encouraged students to see civic involvement as something that can forward their career through gaining experience, skills contacts etc. But why do we not also ask how could our careers forward civic society. Responsible citizenship, being a good neighbor, seeking the good of the lace we live in through employment are not really currently covered in careers education.
9) Life Long Learning – Do we learn to gain or learn to learn to learn. I was recently struck by a quote from Alvin Toffler “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” I feel there is a growing danger careers is about getting a result rather than equipping people to keep on learning.
10) Death – Death seems like a bit of heavy subject to slip in to careers development with young people but death is the greater leveler. It is the great certainty and the great uncertainty. In some ways you could argue that any attempt to grapple with career development without grappling with death is less than it should be.
I guess what I feel unites this 10 things a desire to see careers work as being broader in its focus and longer in its scope. It is personal development and life long learning in the biggest sense. It is focused on helping us becoming who we can be in a changing society in a way that embraces all of society.