"Career development is a maturation process that begins very early in life"

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  • 05/02/2020

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Elnaz Kashefpakdel, Directora de investigación e impacto en la consultora británica de orientación y educación The Skills Builder Partnership
La investigadora británica Elnaz Kashefpakdel tiene una amplia trayectoria llevando a cabo estudios longitudinales que buscan demostrar el impacto de la orientación académica y profesional en la Educación Primaria, que en Reino Unido se denomina Career-Related Learning.  Es doctora en Políticas Económicas y Educativas de la University of Bath y ha participado en diversas investigaciones de referencia sobre orientación académica y profesional y el denominado Career-Related Learning. Sus investigaciones, artículos y libros son todo un referente para el mundo de la orientación y han sido continuamente utilizados en los informes y estudios de organismos internacionales como la OCDE y la Comisión Europea.

Actualmente es la Directora de Investigación e Impacto en la asociación británica The Skills Builder Partnership, y ha ocupado este mismo puesto en Education and Employers, una organización que desarrolla programas educativos para conectar a las escuelas y universidades con voluntarios del mundo laboral.
 
 
What's the difference between career guidance and career-related learning? How are these terms related?

Many teachers in primary schools are well aware of the importance of expanding each child's awareness of the work that adults do and of challenging their attitudes about gendered work roles. As a consequence, many primary school teachers engage their young students in learning that could be described as career-related learning. The term ‘career-related learning' (CRL) is used as this encompasses early childhood activities in primary schools designed to give children from an early age a wide range of experiences of and exposure to education, transitions and the world of work. However, career guidance includes services intended to assist people at any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to manage their careers.

This is a period largely of exploration and children's aspirations should, rightly, be tentative and imaginative. Yet there are a range of attributes, skills and behaviours that can be instilled in this stage of child's life that will leave them in the best possible position as they begin their transitions to secondary education and to future life. The focus should be on broadening horizons and giving children a wide range of experience of the world – which includes the world of work. So, based on my research, I recommend to use Career-related learning (CRL) instead of guidance.
 
Why is it important to introduce career guidance at Pre-Primary and Primary Education? How can it be introduced?

Career development is a maturation process that begins very early in life. It refers to the ongoing process of a person managing their life, learning and work over their lifespan. It involves developing the skills and knowledge that not only equip children for the next stage of their lives but also enable them to plan and make informed decisions about education, training and career choices. Children actively explore their worlds and begin to construct possibilities for present and future selves. These life stories include a sense of self (self-identity), life roles, skills, and knowledge, and are shaped by everyday events and experiences. They are also often shaped, moulded and restricted by gender stereotyping, socio-economic background and the role models in their surroundings. Many children often do not know enough about the world of work to have realistic ideas of what jobs exist, but they have absorbed enough to believe there is ‘men's work' and ‘women's work'. This has been evidenced in numerous recent studies. Holding biased assumptions and having narrow aspirations can, and does, go on to influence the academic effort children exert in certain lessons, the subjects they choose to study and the jobs they end up pursuing.

Much of the work related to primary education is focused around educational outcomes for young people. There are also provisions designed to enhance children's understanding of jobs and careers. In considering enterprise education, engagement can be seen to offer means to secure additional learning outcomes to the usual diet of provision—providing pupils with the opportunity to explore and practice knowledge and skills (such as problem-solving and team working) demanded by the modern labour market

What objectives should career guidance/career-related learning pursue in each of these educational stages?

To improve education outcomes, greater awareness of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, developing knowledge and understanding of key concepts about organisations, risk, and change; developing skills such as the ability to make informed decisions, manage risk, and make presentations; growing attitudes, including self-reliance, open mindedness, and pragmatism, and qualities, such as adaptability, perseverance, determination, creativeness and flexibility. Broadening and raising of pupil career aspirations; increased confidence and motivation; better understanding of the links between education, qualifications and careers, and decreased gender stereotyping.
 
"These CRL activities help children have greater understanding of different careers and be challenged on any pre-existing assumptions and gender stereotyping".

What skills do Pre-Primary and Primary students develop with career guidance/career related-learning interventions at early ages?

There is now widespread agreement about the importance of connectedness and the benefits of actively developing intra-and inter-personal skills. But equally children need to be equipped with broader essential skills. Children growing up in the 21st century will be seeking careers in an environment characterised by change, chance and uncertainty. They require skills to support them navigating through a complex society and labour market. As framed by The Skills Builder Partnership there are now eight essential skills that everyone needs to succeed; Listening, Presenting, Problem solving, Creativity, staying positive, Aiming high, Leadership and Teamwork. A consensus is being created to embed these eight essential skills in the curriculum.

What works in career guidance in Pre-Primary and Primary Schools? What would be the key career guidance content to work on in these educational stages?

At a local level, the most significant drivers of career-related learning in primary schools have been school leadership teams and teachers. Primary schools' approach to career-related learning varies significantly. The key factors include parental involvement, the connection with the world of work and encounters with employers, quality assurance and accreditation. CRL has to be embedded in the curriculum, one off random career activities without being linked to any subject or wider school strategy does not drive change. Also impact monitoring and evaluation is important; it is extremely valuable to see how any intervention is contributing to the objectives (outcomes) outlined above.

Primary Futures project, in which you were involved as researcher, could be recognized as a good practice on career guidance at Primary Schools? Why?

Primary Futures is a great program designed by teachers for teachers. It is a free online platform where schools can invite local volunteers to engage in a range of career-related learning activities. Through Primary Futures, teachers can arrange a number of different activities throughout the year involving employers from a wide range of backgrounds and seniority levels and industries. We know from research that these CRL activities help children have greater understanding of different careers and be challenged on any pre-existing assumptions and gender stereotyping. The more children are exposed to realities beyond classroom the broader their aspirations become. You can't be what you can't see.

What other good practice do you know about career guidance for Pre-Primary and Primary students?

There are a number of great organisations around the world including The World of Work in the US, The Skills Builder Partnership, National Literacy Trust and Learn by Design in the UK. I am also aware of many organisations who are doing activities in the STEM area such as Engineering UK.
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