Their Job When They Grow up

by NDFAuthors

  • May 12, 2014

Children sometimes have the funniest ideas about their future career prospects (ice cream seller and Wimbledon ball girl were amongst my own aspirations!).

They often choose something vocational with a workday that they can imagine – doctor, nurse, teacher or train driver. Yet looking at some of the most common jobs in 2014, why do you never hear these answers – digital marketing specialist, Zumba instructor or data scientist? Out of 259,000,000 LinkedIn members these top jobs in 2014 barely existed in 20081. This is the current reality of the job market and yet children are living in an outdated world view based on vocational careers. If the world of work has changed so dramatically in the last eight years, how do we prepare children for a future we cannot imagine 15 years down the line? How too can we make their day to day school studies relate to some of these future jobs to motivate and inspire them?

At the same time as coding makes its way into the primary curriculum, Primary Futures aims to go some way to answering these questions. It is an extension of the hugely successful Inspiring the Future programme which has got 75% of all state secondary schools in the UK to sign up. 13,500 volunteers have offered their time to go into schools and give pupils a glimpse of their day to day working lives. These volunteers may plant the seed of a career in an area previously unconsidered and most certainly raise aspirations and widen horizons. Hopefully too, children will see the supreme importance of numeracy and literacy skills in any sector of employment. Russell Hobby, the General Secretary from The National Association of Headteachers has given the programme their backing:

For children of primary age, making a connection between what they learn in the classroom and how it relates to the world of work isn’t easy.   Primary Futures is intended to change that. It is not about specific careers advice, or fixing on one path for the future at age 11. It is about raising and broadening horizons about what can be achieved. Children also benefit from understanding the practical requirements of the working world so they can be motivated to improve their literacy and numeracy.” We need to give our children and young people a vision of the opportunities available to them, so that they understand the value of learning and in doing so raise aspirations. It is never too soon to start this. We also need better connections between schools and the communities and businesses they work with.2

Given that the children are so young and their work lives still seem so far away, what sorts of activities do these volunteers do?

  • Talk about their jobs and the range of opportunities there are
  • Talk about their backgrounds and the journey they took into their chosen job.
  • Read to children or listen to children read and talk about the importance of literacy skills.
  • Talk about some of the numeracy skills they need and set an activity for groups of children to try.
  • Act as judges in school competitions

The future seems ever more uncertain and this will be the world our children inhabit. How can we best prepare them and how can we provide them with an array of choices and opportunities? Schools do not exist in a bubble protecting our children until that time when they are let loose into the big, wide world. They face the constant battle of trying to equip children to cope with not just the present but the future too both in terms of subject content and in skills. What can you do to help? If you are interested in registering as part of the army of volunteers going into schools, please find out more here. In order to believe in their dreams, we need to give them choices to dream about. Resources: