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When can parents and teachers talk careers with young people?

In the classroom teachers can by relating classroom learning to career opportunities. These conversations can be as simple as saying "did you know that (name relevant job) uses these skills and knowledge in their job". Students can be helped to make the link between their subject area and careers by visiting the myfuture website at http://www.myfuture.edu.au and do a search for 'Bullseye Posters' and explore occupations by school subject.

At home or during pastoral care, form group meetings or in the playground are also times when a casual conversation can lead to career questions from the young person. The 'Assist your child' section of the myfuture website (see the menu at the top of the home page), has helpful strategies for parents and teachers can use to make the most of casual career conversations.

The dos and don'ts of talking careers with young people. The world of work has changed since we were at school - no matter how old you are!

The dos:

  • Listen – talk with them, not at them.
  • Talk about careers – They have little life experience and don't know much about career options.
  • Refer them to the guidance officer, senior schooling HOD/KLA head, career counsellor or administration where appropriate – you are not expected to be an expert.
  • Find positives in every student! They undertake huge personal and physical development during their teenage years and need to 'grow into themselves', their career awareness and decision-making.
  • Discuss career options with them – they live in a world of questions in the classroom that have right and wrong answers. They close down if asked questions that they have no answer to or feel uncomfortable trying to answer.
  • Be inclusive – it's their conversation about them. Your role is more that of a helper in the discussions around career opportunities.
  • Conversations are ongoing – it takes time to listen, process, research and formulate ideas and options.
  • Owning decisions – to achieve happiness and success, young people need to own the process. There is no right or wrong answer but many opportunities. It is their journey.
  • Encourage research – research career opportunities, pathways and tertiary courses in a timely manner, and talk with the career counsellor, guidance officer and/or VET Coordinator when appropriate.

The don'ts:

  • Don't give advice and/or your opinion – it's just that, your opinion. Remember it is their journey.
  • Don't 'sell' subject/s. Subject choice should be appropriate to their individual career plan.
  • Don't 'sell' your personal career path. If you are a good role model they may just follow your journey and not discover their own (it's easier!).
  • Don't allow students to sell themselves short. Always encourage them to aim high because they can always rearrange their plans. If they aim too low they may not achieve their potential.
  • Don't be negative - even if the student is the most challenging in your class! A career conversation is always a serious conversation for a young person no matter how casual the circumstances may be.
  • Don't deliver 'throw away' comments even in humour or frustration. They remember these comments the most.
  • Don't bring your own values into a career conversation. What suits you may not be appropriate for others.
  • Don't be judgemental. We all change as we learn more about ourselves and about life.
  • Don't try to have all the answers – no one does! Refer to those with more expertise.

Parents and teachers of young people, form significant persons in a young person's life. They listen to everything you say, how you say it and, just as importantly, what you don't say. They value your opinions and your life story, especially if you have a good rapport with them. It is important that parents and teachers encourage career conversations at home in the classroom, playground and at sport and cultural events. Give purpose to both academic and life learning experiences and relate these learnings to jobs. Don't be afraid to talk careers with young people. Having conversations with lots of people will help them process and decide.

Mr Chris Campbell - Assistant Principal - Curriculum