Careers in the Curriculum
Link learning with life
Connecting classroom content with career pathways engages students and prepares them for their future. Enter your email below and we’ll send you a copy of our report:
Curriculum prepares them for their lives
But they may not be able to see that for themselves.
If we want young people to understand the point of their education then we need to be clear about how what they are learning in class today will prepare them for their future lives.
Embedding career-related learning within the curriculum can make it easier for students to understand how the skills and knowledge they gain at school will be used once they graduate.
Relevance + Meaning
We need to show them the point
Young people are keen to learn and give themselves the best start they can, but the lack the skills to link their learning to a future life they can’t quite imagine just yet, which is why we need to do it for them.
Making lessons relevant can improve student engagement and avoid the creation of a generation of ‘robo-students’ who show up, do the minimum required, but are cognitively and emotionally disengaged from their education (Conner and Pope, 2013).
Two thirds are disengaged
In fact, research shows that over half of all students, including high-achieving students are not ‘full-engaged’ in their schoolwork, and embedding careers within the curriculum can improve engagement across the three areas of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural engagement (Assor et al., 2002).
Embedding career-related information makes lessons relevant
The curriculum is often tackled as disconnected and discrete units, and, without context, students can find it difficult to understand how the isolated skills and knowledge gained through their work could ever be applicable in the real world.
The problem is not that the curriculum content is irrelevant, in fact, the topics covered in the curriculum have been reviewed and assessed extensively and scaffolded to ensure students are prepared for a range of career paths.
But teachers are not career development professionals, and they may not have the knowledge to understand how their own subjects may lead to the careers of the future, which makes it difficult for them to make their lessons relevant to the real world that students will enter once they graduate.
Our report goes into depth about the possibilities of embedding career-related learning within lessons, enter your email and we’ll send you a copy:
Relevant classroom content engages students
Self-Determination Theory gives us a framework to understand how students are motivated to learn and the factors which impact on their engagement (for more, visit this link).
In a nutshell, students have three basic psychological needs which impact on their motivation; autonomy, competence, and relatedness. When learners feel like they are in control of their learning, that they are capable of the work, and that they are supported by their educators they are more likely to be engaged.
Connecting the curriculum with careers meets all three psychological needs:
Relating classroom content to the real world helps students to understand where their education is leading, giving them an increased sense of control over their learning.
They are also better able to link their abilities with future pathways, as they develop a stronger understanding of what those pathways might look like and how they will fit in.
Finally, teachers who help students understand the point to their learning show that they are invested in their student’s futures, not simply there to deliver content.
We want to know where we are going
No one likes being left in the dark, but we often ask our students to trust that their work will help them in the future without explaining how, when, or where.
It’s important that we give students choice about what they learn and how they learn it, but we also need to give them information so that they can make informed choices.
Show them the way
Connecting content with a range of career pathways and giving students visible examples of how this works in the real world gives them the opportunity to make choices that they can take ownership of.
People are catching on…
Embedding careers in the curriculum is not really a new idea – we all remember those teachers who helped us see the point of our learning from our own time at school – but as more educators and education-related bodies begin to talk about how we’re preparing our young people with the skills they need, the conversation is starting to grow.
For example, the fourth Benchmark of the UK’s Gatsby Report is Linking Curriculum Learning with Careers – this is a clear call for all teachers to consider how they link their lessons with career pathways and the world of work. In other corners, policy and educational institutions have been looking at ways they can use exiting frameworks to embed career-related learning, such as in the Australian Future Ready report.
Enter your email and we’ll send you our report, which covers our approach and suggests some adjustments for all schools:
Ideas for schools
A suggested approach
We need to bring educators and career development experts together to harness their combined knowledge and deliver resources that are easy to embed, and easy to understand.
And while there are a variety of approaches we could take, it is important to keep the following front-of-mind when developing any interventions…
Learning should be stage appropriate
Children and adolescents are growing psychologically, as well as physically, and any intervention should consider the students ability to relate information to themselves and hypothesise about their future.
We should work with industry and employers
Drawing major employers and industry bodies into the discussion ensures the intervention is linked to the current labour market and broadens the student’s understanding of possible pathways.
In-school Career Leaders are our champions
The Career Practitioner in each school brings both expert knowledge of career development and a deep understanding of their educational environment, and interventions should champion their role and knowledge.
Teachers are key career influencers
After parents, teachers are the most significant influence on career pathway decisions, and their power in this role can be harnessed when they understand the careers their subject leads to and the skills their subject delivers.
Professional development builds capacity
In order to keep teacher knowledge about career pathways current, teachers should undertake relevant professional learning delivered by educational career experts, which will build their capacity and reinforce any classroom based interventions.
Building career mindset in schools
Linking lessons with life sparks conversations which can build an awareness of career pathways and a willingness to discuss the future – it can build a ‘career mindset’ within a school community. This mindset gives young people and their families the space to ask their questions and undertake the work they need to make informed, confident decisions about their future.
Outcomes of embedding career-related learning within the curriculum
The potential outcomes go far beyond student engagement with their lessons.
Engaged students who want to learn because they can see the future benefits for them as individuals perform better academically and socially, which leads to improved outcomes for school-based KPIs such as the number of students continuing on to higher education.
They are also less likely to leave school early, and are less likely to be disruptive in class.
Students can also align the skills they are building with the pathways these skills will unlock, which means they can make better decisions about their post-school pathway, in turn reducing the length of time it takes them to secure meaningful work that meets their needs.
They spend less time ‘trying out’ a variety of career pathways, because they leave school with a stronger understanding of their capabilities and how these prepare them for certain roles.
Engaging industry and employers within this process also helps to build pipelines of engaged potential future employees, and increases the rate of students which are able to accurately align their expectations with the realities of the labour market.
In short, embedding careers in the curriculum delivers benefits for the student, the teacher, the school, the industry, and our society.
Want to learn how to embed career-related learning within your school?
There is no one-size fits all approach, but we’ve put together some ideas which you could use to start your own planning journey. Download the scoping document below:
Careers in the Curriculum is an initiative of Study Work Grow – we’re a social enterprise, based in Australia, and focused on supporting schools to deliver engaging career development programs that improve the outlook for our next generation.
Copyright 2022 – Study Work Grow Pty Ltd