However, lockdown also provides an opportunity to encourage students to think about and prepare for their future. No matter what entry route to work a student is planning on taking; whether that’s leaving school to do an apprenticeship, going straight into work or attending university and then seeking internships and graduate jobs, they must be equipped with the skills to thrive in the future of work as well as the skills to get through the hiring process, which will be a novel and scary experience to many. Now is the perfect opportunity to prepare them for that.
So, how can schools and teachers encourage students to engage more with early careers and build their confidence in the future?
1. Involve the parents:
Parents hold a big influence over your students and you can definitely use this to your advantage. Keeping parents informed and supplied with useful resources can help with reaching students and encouraging them to engage more with early careers. Some ideas on how to go about this would be:
- Sending an email out to your parent contacts with a list of helpful early career resources
- Sharing informative articles to help parents understand the early careers market so they are in a better position to provide advice.
2. Utilise digital resources:
Early careers recruiting has become almost fully digitalised. Gone are the days of handing in physical CVs to employers. Employers now look for candidates who have invested in themselves before applying for an opportunity and now is the time to encourage students to build their online presence to get ahead.
A huge number of companies have now converted their once physical offerings to digital ones. Make use of sites with resource libraries to help you explore and digest exactly what’s on offer. We’re all aware of how much extra time students will be spending on their phones now they’re working in less supervised environments so why not encourage them to use their phones more proactively? If your school has a policy that doesn’t allow students to use their phone in school, now is the ideal time to engage them with helpful career and employment apps and tools.
Providing a variety of resources is also key to keeping students engaged. ‘Digital exhaustion’ and countless reading tasks can cause students to disengage rapidly. Recommend podcasts they can listen to away from the desk and direct them to informative videos for a change of pace. Live online events have exploded in number since lockdown began - you could even encourage students to attend virtual workshops that do the teaching for you!
3. Use a personal touch:
Don’t underestimate the power of a personal check-in with your students. If you haven’t already, contact them and ask them directly how they are feeling about their future prospects and what they need from you.
One idea suggested by a young person is to create focus-groups of students with similar ideas on what they want to do after school (i.e. college, apprenticeship, university) and encourage them to have weekly online meetings to support each other with applications.
4. Make the most of the platforms students are already using:
We know that young people love using apps like Instagram to connect with their peers but also to learn new things. Why not encourage them to spend some time following career-related pages or employers that may be of interest to them? Companies are using these apps more to showcase days in the life of employees, what their cultures are like and how sustainable and inclusive they are: things that are increasingly appealing to young people when making career-based decisions.
Most importantly, when guiding students through the turmoil of having to decide on their next steps in an uncertain future, communication is key. Be open, understanding and honest with your students. They will be the ones shaping the post-COVID 19 future.