Chris Jeffries, CEO at Dev Clever

The argument that students must be helped to enter the correct career from the outset extends beyond personal success; 12 million people could be caught in a skills gap by 2024.

This would come as a result of millions of low-skilled workers entering a job market with numerous high-skilled jobs available and a lack of people qualified to fill them.

This skills crisis could result in £90bn of economic growth being lost, making it vital that we ensure students are entering the best possible careers in the first instance, and are aware of what skills will be required.

For this, we need improved careers advice in schools.

For the vast majority, careers advice at present remains woefully inadequate. Most advice still provides little to no structure or guidance, but instead relies on students making decisions based on their own limited encounters of adult professions.

This is frequently supplemented by basic advice from a ‘career councillor’, limited careers tests, and snippets of advice from parental figures and/or teachers- none of which takes into account elements of a student’s personality or skillsets.

In addition, careers advice at home is beset with further obstacles; over a third of parents are scared of providing the wrong advice to their child, with half worrying that their understanding of the current career environment may hinder their child’s future.

Moreover, relying on family figures to deliver careers guidance means socio-economic background continues to play a major role in impacting children’s careers; a recent report from the OECD international economics thinktank found that by the age of seven children are already facing limits on their future work aspirations.

Most of 2030's Jobs Haven't Been Invented Yet

Compounding the fraught issue of careers guidance, the rapid advancement of technology and the speed of change facilitated by this means that up to 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 11 years haven’t yet been invented. This means that the skillsets required for different careers are changing rapidly, as is the job market itself.

While the Government plans to place more available resources into primary and secondary schools, giving them the means to reach the mandated criteria of achieving the GATSBY benchmarks by the end of 2020, more change is still required to improve careers advice in schools.

Today’s students have been raised surrounded by digital experiences in every area of life, from entertainment platforms like Netflix to social media such as Instagram, and music platforms like Spotify. Students consequently expect better uses of tech in all aspects of their education - so why should careers advice be exempt from this?

Gamification boosts engagement

Gamification is everywhere too; from learning a language to brushing your teeth, gamification has been seen to help engage users more effectively. In 2018, for example, 85% of people said they’d spend more time on an app or software because of gamification elements.

Consequently, schools must take advantage of new technologies to bring gamification elements into careers advice and utilise tech to create immersive careers guidance experiences for their students. It is more important than ever that parents and schools are provided with the tools and technology to better guide and encourage children to make good decisions on next steps towards their futures.

Fully immersive virtual reality careers guidance experiences

Some success is already being seen, with a number of schools across the country now using VICTAR and Launchpad, a fully immersive virtual reality experience that guides students of all ages through the decision-making process.

Based on the Myers-Briggs indicators, it goes through different questions to understand the student’s personality traits and then matches those traits to an appropriate career choice. From there, pupils can access Launchpad, an online platform supported by credible resources to learn more about the career matched to them.

The platform helps them to understand salary bands, career progression and what course to take to get them into their chosen career— whether that’s an apprenticeship or a particular course at university.

Such an immersive experience also serves to remove pressures from the environment around the student, such as fearing being incorrect in front of peers or the teacher. It permits students to be more honest about their personality and interests, thereby assisting the student in making a more accurate decision about their preferred career path.

Technology is transforming industries at speed, revolutionising the way we live our day-to-day lives. Education is no exception, with innovation being seen through the development of recorded lessons, the introduction of laptops and tablets to schools, and the use of interactive whiteboards - but it’s time that careers advice itself embraced such innovation.

If the younger generation are to prepare themselves for the jobs of tomorrow, we must give them the tools to reach their goals.

Chris Jeffries, CEO at Dev Clever

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