Careers, where do you start?
For me it was a bearded chap in his fifties with a tweed jacket and well-worn elbow patches who said, “Have you thought about the RAF?”
Thankfully, times have changed but careers advice is still a mixed bag. Research last year found that careers advice received at school is neither relevant nor at a pace with young people’s demands.
In many cases, careers advice is outdated, relies on stereotypes and hasn’t adapted to the changing world. New jobs are emerging all the time and there are opportunities on the horizon that weren’t there just a few years ago.
Thankfully careers help for schools is plentiful and there are a number of careers software programs available to support students make sense of the arrows and road signs.
A very exciting educational resource that really is worth knowing about comes from U-Explore and their fantastic online careers learning tool called Start. It’s a bit of a head-turner and it’s free.
When students have registered and created an account they have the whole world in their hands.
At the top of every page of Start is a navigation bar which takes users directly to Home, Profile, Explore, Study and Logout.
Taking the tour makes perfect sense to start and from here students can then personalise their profile with important particulars about their skills, qualities, interests and work preferences and Start will create job suggestions corresponding to their personality.
They will then be able to map an educational pathway to their dream career and see live job and apprenticeship vacancies. This self-inventory best match approach is like online dating or a colour profiling test but for jobs.
There is a search box within the program that can be used to navigate straight to jobs that interest them of find ideas based on a key word search.
Results will take users to a page of job profiles and these will ordered by relevance and there is an option to display these by suitability.
All job profiles provide comprehensive information to help users get inside a particular role, understand how they could move into the role and whether their profile matches them as appropriate for the job. This will help students decide whether the job is for them.
If they wish, students can explore the world of work independently of completing their profile by looking at a page of 32 job and the 1700 job profiles contained within which contain an impressive amount of data from top tips to excellent icould videos.
Students can also find out about all the qualifications available to them within a devoted section divided into academic and vocational sections.
All they need do is select a qualification from a list and they will be able to find out more. There is also an interactive map to help students find learning providers, apprenticeship providers and training providers.
Students need reliable, professional information, solid support and up to date guidance that will empower them to make educated and assured decisions about their future.
Start provides this by the bucket load and helps students understand that a job is the most valuable asset they will ever have and developing a livelihood needs careful planning. Like the Knights of the Round Table, students have a quest to find their holy grail, what kind of life they want and their place in their world.
To help teachers in this quest Start comes with a very helpful Key Stage checklist which provides an ‘at-a-glance’- guide for using the software from Year 7 to Year 13 and there is a marvellous activity pack available packed with engaging activities.
These are 20 minutes to an hour long and are designed to be delivered with student access to Start with each key stage following three themes: Who am I?, What’s out there? and How to get there.
These resources all take students on a voyage of understanding regarding their talents, abilities, interests and work preferences and then educating them on the openings available to them.
The website is slick and sophisticated under the bonnet but it has been kept extremely user-friendly on the outside so that it is appealing to look at, simple to explore and a joy to hop from one lily pad to the next without getting confused or lost. This is no mean feat because the website has to be engaging and want to make a user stay on it and explore. Start does this extremely well.
A useful feature of this software is the dyslexia mode where at the foot of every page you can turn on a function replacing the font used with OpenDyslexic. In this mode the font changes so that letters have weighted bottoms to help dyslexic users recognise direction. The font also has wider spaces between each letter.
U-Explore’s Start is a job well done and provides teenagers with the opportunity to access the most up-to-date advice and support there is for discovering, reflecting, exploring and planning.
Quality careers advice needn’t be rarer than red squirrel or a black fox if you know where to look which is why I’m recommending you press your nose against U-Explore’s Start.
It will help students get their bearings, identify their strengths, target a work sector and plan a path to get there with focus and ambition.
U-Explore is pro-active and practical careers management skills advice at its best using unique profiling technology for helping make big decisions simpler.