As parent, career advisor or tutor, what career guidance for teenagers can you give that’s useful, encouraging and honest? Today’s teenagers will have to make their way in a very competitive world.
Sensible career guidance for teenagers will encourage them to work for the best “A” Level grades (or their equivalent – eg BTEC or NVQ3) they can. High grades at this stage keep their options open. This is important when you consider a quarter of the teenage job seekers can’t now find any job, let alone a job with good prospects. If teenagers stay in full-time education, they still face a future where one in five graduates is unemployed.
Some of the better employers – eg accountancy firms – that previously recruited graduates now recruit “A” Level students instead. These employers put their new recruits through university, saving the students (and their parents!) up to £100K in tuition fees and living costs. They’re offering students a very good deal and naturally they’re only interested in employing the best and brightest of candidates.
Teenagers wanting an apprenticeship to kick-start their careers need to realise employers can afford to be very choosy (1,000 candidates applied for 100 apprenticeships recently). Employers want people who are bright and work hard so they’ll be more impressed by good academic grades than mediocre ones.
Until very recently, the most commonly given career guidance for teenagers to all bright pupils was to study for a degree (“career prospects are better as a graduate”). Parents and students increasingly doubt this (there are too many unhappy graduates living on unemployment benefits) but places at conventional universities are still massively over-subscribed.
What’s the right career guidance for teenagers wondering whether degree study is for them? Students and their parents should push tutors and specialist career advisors as hard as they possibly can for one to one assessments of the teenagers’ developing academic potential (ideally based on both their course results and good psychometric information), their personal strengths and their career interests.
The best advice here is to put on the pressure early – career guidance for teenagers is a neglected, under-funded public service and it may be very difficult to get an appointment with a professionally trained careers advisor. You may wish to consider paying for career guidance from a private-sector provider – there are many good ones.
What about career guidance for teenagers panicking they may not get a university place? Advise them to first think long and hard about the value of a degree to them (is it more than £100K?) and how likely it is that they’ll get a 2.1 degree in their chosen subject. Persuading teenagers to focus in a cool, rational way on what’s in their best interests should calm them and may even prompt a re-think.
Good quality career guidance for teenagers will also help teenagers investigate the many different ways of achieving their goals (eg a rewarding adult life, a professional job, etc) beyond those which require study at a conventional university. Options here include gaining a degree with the Open University; completing the relevant professional training programme organised by national bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development; and undertaking degree-equivalent work-based National Vocational Qualifications (at levels 4 and 5).
Finally, career guidance for teenagers mustn’t forget the importance of personal development and having fun during this stage of life. Investigate student exchange programmes and local town twinning arrangements and encourage your teenagers to see something of the world and its peoples while they’re still free to do so.