Author: David Wine - CM Rubin World | Date: 16 May 2019
The future will be about pairing the cognitive, social and emotional capabilities of human beings with machines. The ‘Drawing the Future’ report (a collaboration between the OECD and the UK based charity, Education and Employers) was published in Davos this year. It featured 20,000 children aged 7 – 11 from 20 countries sharing their opinions about what they want to be when they grow up. According to Nick Chambers, Chief Executive of Education and Employers, the kids’ perspectives were often based on gender stereotypes, socio-economic backgrounds, and TV and social media. He notes that “36% based their career aspirations on someone they knew, 45% because of TV, film or radio, with only 1% learning about a job from someone visiting their school.” Gender and socio-economic stereotyping had a lot of impact with 20 times as many boys planning “to have a role in the armed forces or firefighting services” as compared with girls who “aspired to be involved in the fashion industry.”
Primary Futures, developed by the National Association of Head Teachers and Education and Employers, get volunteers from the world of work to go into primary schools and answer questions from children about jobs and career paths. The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Nick Chambers to talk about his organization that is inspiring children to look at their future without gender bias by introducing them to employee volunteers during their primary school years.
Nick, in what ways have you revolutionized the way young people interact with the employment network? What are the strategies you are personally proud of?
We have worked with schools, employers and the government to create the state-of-the-art match making service. Inspiring the Future connects volunteers from the world of work with schools – it is used by Primary Futures. It makes it very easy for employers to connect with schools and vice versa – for free. The growth of this network, which now stands at more than 50,000 volunteers, 80% of all secondary schools and 4,000 primary schools, demonstrates just how much this service is valued and something of which I am proud.
What can other organizations around the world learn from your work in nurturing social capital at an early age?
At Education and Employers, our work in connecting young people with the world of work is underpinned by robust and renowned research. We have made a compelling case that the quality and quantity of employer engagement experienced by young people while in school and college make it easier for them to navigate the increasingly difficult move from school to sustained, successful employment. It helps them to compete more effectively, make more informed decisions and makes a significant difference to how well they do in the world of work in early adulthood.
Our research found that respondents who recalled experiencing four or more career talks with employee volunteers between the ages of 14–16 were 25% less likely to be in Not in Education and Training (NEET) than their peers who did not take part in the activity.
The early years of a child’s life are a key time in the formation of their attitudes and expectations. Our research has shown that children start to rule career options in or out at an early age and girls and boys hold stereotypical views about male and female careers by age seven. One way of tackling this is to make sure they meet professionals of both genders who work in a variety of roles and sectors. Primary Futures has developed activities that work particularly well for primary school children to inspire them, broaden their horizons, challenge stereotyping in career aspirations and make the link between what they learn at school and work.
One of your key findings is that “those young people who have most to gain from employer engagement currently have the least access to it”. How are you bridging the gap? How is technology helping?
While organizations to assist linkages between secondary schools and businesses have existed for over 30 years, much of the work to bring employers into both primary and secondary schools has been done using informal local or personal connections. Using the Primary Futures online platform designed for teachers to broker these connections can help formalize arrangements, ensuring that schools can facilitate meaningful interactions at a fraction of the costs involved in traditional brokerage.
Inspiring the Future and Primary Futures are based on the simple premise that if asked, very many people – from all walks of life – would be willing to help young people and schools. Technology allows us to do this at scale.
By working very closely with the main teaching unions, leading employers and their related professional bodies, as well as government departments, we can identify key areas of need. In that way, who you meet does not need to be about who you or your families know.
For the first time ever WEF Delegates attended a Davos primary school and spoke to children about their jobs and career paths. What did the children learn from this experience?
I think the best way to answer this is to share our video clip from the Davos school.