Building the skills to thrive in the future
All of us involved in education want our pupils to have a positive future – a future that’s aspirational and exciting, that leads to happy, productive, fulfilled lives. I’ve long believed that career education is a key to securing that aspirational and exciting future for our young people. During my time in education – as a teacher, a head teacher and now as a Head of Service Education – I’ve seen too many young people grow up with a narrow view of the world of work. Their aspirations become limited, often restricted to what they see their parents, friends and family doing. In a world where opportunities are ever-changing, young people need to know what and where those opportunities are to guide the decisions they make. They need to understand the world of work. We need to help them be ready for it. That’s the reason I got involved in the review of career services commissioned by the Scottish Government through its Young Person’s Guarantee. Over the past year, an independent programme board established and supported by Skills Development Scotland has worked with school leaders and teachers across the country, listening to their experiences of current services and how they could be improved. A wide range of young people, employers, parents and carers, teachers, careers advisers and other organisations across the country also contributed.
The evidence tells us that much of what we’re doing is working; Scotland has an all-age career service which is internationally recognised for its quality and impact. But it’s also clear that if we’re to really address longstanding issues like child poverty and inequality, we need to rethink how we’re working. At the same time, major societal issues like climate change, disruptive technologies and shifting demographics are transforming the world of work. These issues bring huge opportunities to reshape our economy and improve productivity, but also carry significant risks of widening and deepening inequality. Scotland’s career services need to help young people navigate and thrive in this uncertain and disruptive future. The Career Review is the most comprehensive review of career services in a generation. Informed by in-depth evidence, its recommendations were co-designed with young people, teachers and a wide range of career influencers. The importance of career education is a recurring theme. Career education is fundamental to developing learning. It makes learning relevant, enabling pupils to see connections between what they’re learning in classrooms, the skills they’re developing and how they’ll use them in the future. This can’t happen through episodic, standalone activities. It needs to be weaved right the way through the curriculum in our schools, colleges and universities. There are many examples of where at a school or authority level, great progress has been made but we haven’t yet reached the point at which career education is consistent in every setting and for every pupil. The Career Review recommendations represent an ambitious redesign of the career system in Scotland and come at an incredibly exciting time as we approach major change in our education system, aligned to the OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence and the review of senior phase qualifications. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to build careers right into the heart of those changes and, probably for the first time, join up all the different developments to give a coherent package to young people. The Scottish Government has welcomed the findings of the Career Review and has accepted all of its recommendations. Ministers have now asked the independent Career Review Programme Board to lead the design and development of an implementation plan to make them happen. This plan will be co-designed with those delivering and experiencing career services. I’d encourage teachers, head teachers, directors of education and anyone else who cares about supporting young people’s career choices to take some time to learn about the work of this review and consider its implications. As we move to implementation, we’ll need your support in making these changes. If we can work together to deliver them, we’ll have taken a major step forward in securing a positive future for all our young people, and for our country.