Today’s world offers an array of possible career options for students, and the choices seem more plentiful than ever. However, it also doubles the responsibility of career counselors and schools, as students have to choose wisely in order to start preparing for their future careers as early as possible.
The initiative of having career assessment services in schools brings numerous benefits to students and should ideally be standardized in every country and educational establishment.
Even though there is still a long way to go, schools and universities can already start introducing minor changes in order to facilitate smart career choices for their students.
The benchmarks of efficient career guidance by Gatsby
The Gatsby Charitable Foundation set in 1967 covers multiple areas of interest, including education. Thus, it is interesting to know that Gatsby came up with eight career guidance benchmarks that are recommended for any organization and establishment that aims to provide career guidance services:
- A stable careers program
- Learning the latest information from the labor market
- Addressing the needs and interests of every student
- Linking school program to careers
- Meetings with potential employers (and employees)
- Real working experience
- Meetings with representatives from universities
- Personal guidance for the students
As can be seen from these benchmarks, Gatsby formed a clear vision of a solid and efficient career guidance program that can be implemented by any educational establishment. But is it really needed? Let’s have a closer look at the benefits that career guidance brings.
The link between school programs and real-life careers
The biggest problem of almost any school program is the gap between provided material and real life. For example, many former students can confidently tell you they never really needed in-depth knowledge of the plant-cell components in their life. And this is just one example.
While more and more schools have been adjusting their programs, the issue of irrelevance is still a concern. With this in mind, schools that wish to provide valuable career guidance should start linking the programs to real-life careers.
An example would be teaching about writing business correspondence in English classes or learning useful calculations related to accounting in math. The main point here is that the students should understand the importance of the classes and realize that the school material will be useful in their further work.
Assistance in understanding goals and interests
As mentioned above, the large number of possible career options may confuse a student, especially if he or she does not yet know what they’d like to do in life. Thus, career guidance can assist in understanding their interests and goals for the future.
During the meeting with the counselor, a student can learn about their own strengths and weaknesses through assessment tests, discover all the future possibilities, and gradually form a vision of what he or she would like to do.
Career guidance can become a great starting point and help a student understand what kind of subjects and knowledge will be needed in the future. As well, a student will get an evaluation of their personal traits and skillsets to see whether they match a desired career.
Insight into the labor market
The labor market changes at an incredible speed, and students need to be aware of these changes in order to choose relevant occupations. This is one of the benefits that career guidance brings – the insight into the labor market and its requirements.
Career guidance provides students with information on in-demand skills and knowledge that different industries require. The better the students are prepared for the industry demands, the earlier they can start getting ready and planning their future steps (i.e. the choice of extra subjects or activities).
To provide students with real-time information on the industry, schools and universities can invite industry representatives such as employers and employees so students can meet them and ask questions in order to learn first-hand experience and get valuable advice.
Guidance through the possible options
When students think about the future, some may only have vague ideas about their possible options. Career counseling services are aimed at helping students understand all the possible options and choose the most suitable one.
For students, it is important to understand that there can always be a “plan B” and there is more than one option. Career counselors can also remind students about the possibility for internships in order to obtain practical experience in the industry and see whether it fits their interests.
Assistance with career-related activities
While a school program may have accounting and business English classes, it usually does not teach students what to say during an interview, what to include in a resume, how to dress for an interview, and how to watch body language. So career guidance is aimed to close this gap and assist students with real-life career-related activities.
A career counselor should invest time and effort into helping students understand some of the core business processes, assist with writing resumes, and conduct interview simulations. In this way, a student will be prepared in advance and will have much higher chances to succeed during a future interview.
Career assessment serves both as a source of valuable information for a student (i.e. unveils one’s interests and strengths) and as an assistant that helps prepare for the future work by learning the insights from the industry, meeting the industry representatives and linking the knowledge obtained in school with the labor market demands.
Thus, every educational establishment should consider implementing and standardizing career guidance services. However, it is not enough to just launch a program – counselors themselves should be genuinely interested in helping young people finding their perfect career and in guiding students towards their goals.