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How lockdown may affect career choices

by Huw Lloyd

If, like my family and many other families up and down the country, you stood every Thursday at 8pm for 10 weeks and gave a round of applause to our key workers, you may have been asked by the younger members of your family, as I was, why you were doing it. The same may have been asked about the cascade of rainbows adorning windows up and down the country.

As I began to explain why,  it hit home how little emphasis and respect has been placed on and given to key workers in the past. Everyone who has helped keep the country functioning during lockdown deserves all the appreciation we can give them.

For me this shouldn’t stop now the Thursday night clapping has ended, or when the rainbows are taken down. As educators we have a responsibility to ensure young people see the value in all career paths and, when giving advice and guidance, recognise the impact this lockdown may have had on the popularity of certain professions.

Raising the profile

With the raised profile of key worker professions, we have to accept that more young people may now be drawn to the professions and careers which we have quite rightly been celebrating so passionately over the last 13 weeks or so and amend our advice, guidance and even curriculum to reflect this.

How many times have we heard a young person discouraged from a career because they should aim higher, or they can achieve a better job than that.

We all want young people in our charge to maximise their potential, however we may now have to change our perception of what bigger, better or more important is. After the last 13 weeks, what has been more important than a care worker, refuse collector or nurse?

We may also have to consider our curriculum design in schools, with the potential for an increased popularity of more vocational careers for our learners, it would be remiss of us to not offer more vocational style subjects to meet the requirements of their future career choices.

This may mean a move away from the more academic EBacc subjects for learners, which would affect league tables and progress scores, however surely it is more important to offer our learners the courses they want and the courses required to meet their chosen career aspirations.

New pathways

How inspirational would it be for a learner to follow a course in nursing, specifically designed to meet that career path, to have involvement from the NHS in the planning of that course and a clear pathway designed for learners to follow to access the career of their choice.

We often hear in the press that industry complains that learners are unprepared for the world of work, let’s create courses that give them the specific skills required.

Likewise, let’s remove the stigma of some jobs which have been referred to as ‘unskilled’ in the past and teach the skills required for these unskilled jobs. Let’s ensure the people who want to do these jobs are prepared for them, guided towards them without prejudice or discouragement when they are discussed.

Covid 19 and lockdown has had many negative effects, however we have to take what positives we can from it.

Let’s take this opportunity to reset and look at what advice and guidance we are giving to young people; let’s hope we see an increased level of importance placed on careers previously looked down on or dismissed; let’s consider how our curriculum prepares them for the world of work and the skills required and hopefully form a more balanced society where mutual respect for all is prevalent.

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