In May, I shared the article Career Connected Learning: Innovations in experiential learning from New Brunswick. Since then, I have reflected on whether our increased efforts to provide innovative career-connected learning may have been influenced by global events of the past two years. As we begin down the post-pandemic road, it is becoming more and more evident that we need to support learners in reaping the benefits of more frequent career-connected experiences.
Why? Considering the anxiety provoked by a global pandemic, and how this continues to plague hope for the future, it is imperative that we leverage career-connected experiential learning to its greatest potential. Its power and reach have yet to be fully realized in schools.
All youth are not the same, but they have collectively experienced a traumatic event that has spanned two-plus years. It would be almost foolish to think our children will not need additional support and resources in the aftermath of disrupted education, economic turmoil and transformed workplaces – not to mention the increasingly difficult job of navigating a world that has been forever changed.
As stated in my previous article, now is the time to be innovative and dream big in how to take career-connected learning opportunities to the next level.
Let’s imagine our schools as ships setting sail for the future:
- The Captain: Career-connected leaders – What would happen if every high school had a career-connected leader? Someone who understood both education and career development. A specialist working within each high school to support educators in the integration of career-connected learning across the curriculum. We need someone to take the lead.
- The Ballast (balance): Career counselling – A career counsellor would be an integral part of the service provision of the education support services team, such as offering presentations, group counselling and/or individual career guidance. Career guidance is an effective positive mental health intervention. It provides hope for the future. Could it make a difference in “steadying” the ship as students reset in rough waters?
- The Compass: Career education framework – What if New Brunswick had a framework that served to guide career provision across the whole of the curriculum and school life? It could include an easy-to-understand rationale for the importance of career development and how it can be delivered most effectively and equitably. It could acknowledge and address known barriers to effective transitions, through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion. While the focus of the framework would be on expectations of student learning outcomes, consideration could also be given to how schools can intentionally integrate career-connected learning into their instructional practice.
- Ahoy: Career culture – What if all schools included the CMEC for Successful Transitions benchmarks in their school improvement planning and assessment process? The benchmarks and assessment indicators would provide a process for schools to assess their current strengths but more importantly, to set goals for improvement. School staff – “the crew” – need to be part of the move toward building a culture of career development. Further, school principals need to value the role of career development and support the use of best practices across the curriculum.
- Buoy: Equitable access to career development – Every adult in a student’s life is a career influencer. Family members and educators are some of the most influential. This does not mean that they feel confident to support the reflective process and decision making that surrounds today’s complicated career planning. Let’s throw these highly important career influencers a buoy. This is where a digital career/life planning tool, such as myBlueprint, can support both the influencer and the learner in making informed decisions together. Providing an online career development tool for all students and educators levels the playing field when we consider the historical inequities surrounding career development.
Let’s transform our schools into these amazing career-connected vessels, propelling youth toward the life they want to live. It is possible to enter into this new world with optimism, excitement and hope!