A recent study by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills highlighted the huge discrepancy between the career aspirations of 13-16 year olds and what the future job market will offer. I am sure this survey has validity, but really? Did anyone think that there would really be a queue of 13 year olds dreaming of one day working in a call centre? But it does get you thinking – how many of us really achieve the career aspirations we held when we were younger?
When I was very young, I wanted to be a cat.
I then realised that the pension options were unliveable and moved to wanting to be a vet. I did some work experience in a vet’s and spent most of my time carrying sacks of dead pets to the freezer for disposal. This didn’t feed my love for animals, so I thought I should try my hand at something else, so I thought about being a lawyer, but then someone bought me a book on becoming a lawyer and I realised it would mean a lot of reading, so I thought about becoming a chef. I told a teacher at school that this was my plan and he threatened to hurt me if I didn’t go to university and so I ended up here.
It’s an inspirational story I know, but I wonder how similar it is to others’?
The fact is that I had no idea what I wanted to do and it was only by doing some work experience that I realised that I didn’t want to be a vet. What little guidance I had was given menacingly and at that time, I was expected to make choices about what GCSEs, A Levels and degree programme I wanted to do.
The fact is that most people don’t understand what the purpose of a careers office is – their remit and approaches have changed, but opinions on them (mostly derived from other people’s opinions) have not.
The purpose of a careers service is to help give you the skills needed to make the right decisions for you and to support you in getting relevant knowledge and experiences to enact those decisions. We are working with employers – locally, nationally and internationally and usually have excellent contacts to help get you some work experience. Interestingly, 20% of employers that don’t offer work experience have never been approached to offer it. This means that they may not be offering experience to people simply because they have never been asked.
In summary, get some advice and experience, or you too could be dragging Fluffy to the freezer.