We are all FutureSurfers, surfing into the future with a backpack full of strengths and passions.

Preparing for Future Careers

on August 22, 2012

How can we best help young people to prepare themselves for success and satisfaction in their careers? In the majority of schools and colleges around the world, pretty much the same approach is being used that I remember from my school days nearly 30 years ago. So much has changed in the world in that time, can ‘career guidance’ still be what young people need? In fact, was it really what we needed even then?

Can we really guide the young?

We can help young people understand themselves better, through administering tools that illuminate their personality type like the MBTI, and inventories and other tools such as card sorts which help them to clarify their preferred skills, interests and values. We can encourage them to be aware of the variety of work options available to them, with some great free online resources available to us, like the O*net. We can even offer training to develop skills in networking, social media, interviewing, and resume writing. But is it valuable to ‘guide’ young people on their future careers? Isn’t that based on the assumption that a) future careers are predictable and broadly similar to those of the past, and b) that we know better than they do what they should be doing with their lives?

Wouldn’t it be better to inspire them instead?

Just imagine if instead of telling young people what we thought would be a good career match for them, we asked them what they thought. And if they said they didn’t have any ideas, we didn’t believe them but threw a few crazy ideas at them anyway and asked them to experiment with them? Then we asked them what they had learned from that experience. What had surprised them? What confused them? What would they like to try next? And that all along the way we built up their self belief and confidence through exercises in goal setting, visioning and other cool stuff…

Revolutionary or evolutionary?

From my experience so far, many Education practitioners are fearful of change in this area. And let’s face it, how much do schools and colleges have to gain by changing their Careers programmes? After all, they are measured by the academic results achieved, not by students’ long-term success in life and career. Luckily a few brave teachers, who like me, care about their students’ potential, are willing to experiment with me.

And the thinking is not all that new actually. It’s based on the principles of coaching, which have been developed over several decades. Some of the pioneers in this field include Sir John Whitmore, Mark McKergowPeter Szabo and Anthony Grant. The corporate world has already embraced coaching as a developmental tool, now it’s time for young people to benefit too.


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