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5 tactics career advisors at school need to start adapting

By Emilly Parris

The subject of what to do after school is a tough one for many hopeful graduates. It involves much more than simply choosing whether you want to pursue further study or enter the workplace after you graduate. With more career options and alternative pathways available, school career advisors could be doing more for students to help them prepare for the future.

According to a recent report, career advice in schools is “stuck in the past” and needs to be re-examined and updated to better suit the needs of today’s students.

SkillsTalk will cover 5 tactics career advisors need to start adapting to keep pace with changing employment trends and Australia’s current labour market.

5 things career advisors at school need to start doing

  1. Examining the labour market.
  2. Identifying new pathways from school to work.
  3. Building career planning into the school curriculum.
  4. Regular meetings between career advisors and students.
  5. Teaching students general capabilities to help them successfully enter the workforce.

1. Examining the labour market.

The labour market in Australia has changed dramatically in the last several years. According to the principal of Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College in Sydney, Mr Patrick O'Reilly, career advisors should be analysing the labour market and telling students where the gaps are.

"We want careers people in schools looking at the labour market. At the moment, all skills gaps are more vocational and training than they are related to a uni degree,” he says. 

Understanding the key industries and their role in the economy can help students make better, more informed decisions relating to their career. It makes sense for career counsellors to acknowledge developments in the Australian labour market and provide students with more detailed and up-to-date knowledge.

2. Identifying new pathways from school to work.

teenage boy studying

The changing employment landscape as well as the many new opportunities that have opened up in recent years, means that there is more than one way for students to enter the workforce or start their university degree. Mr O'Reilly points out that only 25% of students accessed university with an ATAR.

"We should be looking at early adulthood as a period from age 17 to 21. Young adults should do micro-credentials and create a portfolio of skills,” he says. This can give students the confidence to pursue employment since they will have the experience to impress employers.

Today, there are more pathways to work or further study than ever before and they are much more accessible even to those living outside of metropolitan areas. From taking on an internship, to pursuing part-time work or taking an online training, career advisors should address every avenue that is available to graduating high schoolers.

3. Building career planning into the school curriculum.

Annette Cairnduff, one of the authors of the report, says career planning should be built into the school curriculum. “[During high school] you might be lucky and get a bit of work experience. But basically, you are isolated from the idea of work.”

Schools should be doing more to help prepare students for the workforce. There are many transferable skills that can be implemented into the school curriculum which can give students a solid foundation to start their careers with greater confidence.

4. Regular meetings between career advisors and students.

teacher with student

"At the moment, students meet the careers adviser in year 9 and again in year 12. It's a one-off experience,” says Ms Cairnduff. Regular meetings can help bridge the gap between what students want to do with their future and the strategies to help them get there.

Young people should not be expected to know whether they want to be a lawyer or a doctor while they’re in high school, but they should understand how to apply for a job, how to write their resume and how to interact with a potential employer.

5. Teaching students general capabilities to help them successfully enter the workforce.

Today’s generation of workers do not enter into a career for life—they may change careers multiple times throughout their lives depending on what stage they are in. It is unfair to expect students to enter a career for life, instead we should be exposing them to skills that will help them navigate today’s dynamic working environment.

High school is the ideal time to teach students critical and creative thinking, literacy, numeracy, personal, social and ethical skills. These are all important skills required to enter the workplace or further study and adapt to the working world. 

Looking for an alternative pathway to university?

Upskilled offers over 80 Nationally Recognised courses providing students with a pathway to further study, while also equipping them with the skills and opportunities to start their career in the field of choice. 

Upskilled’s online courses cover Australia’s most in-demand industries including Health Care and Social Assistance, Technology, Retail and Leadership Management. Have a chat to one of their education consultants by calling 1300 009 924 to learn more.
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