Career guidance supports young people to acquire the skills they need to earn a good living doing something they like, and are good at, doing. Young people tell us they would like that guidance to start in primary school, but most students around the world don’t get it all – and if they do, it’s often very rudimentary and unhelpful. A recent study in Tanzania found that only 0.2% of high school students had any kind of career guidance during their school career. Schools that offer career guidance stand a better chance of motivating students to excel in school careers designed to help them to achieve their goals. At the very least, career guidance helps students understand why they are at school. If youth have no idea why they are studying what they are studying, it should be no surprise to educators that many of them drop out.
Career guidance is often done very badly by teachers. Often, they are not paid for it, so, for them, it is just an additional chore. Many are trying to raise standards: the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (IAEVG) has a global mandate and, in the UK, Futurewise, Youth Employment UK and Adviza are doing the same nationally. In the USA, the National Career Development Association does the same, and in Australia, the World of Work Programme has inspired thousands of students.
Career network support: Bridge for Change (B4C) recognizes what has long been understood in OECD countries: that career decisions are among the hardest – and easiest to get wrong – that any child or parent faces. Given the almost total absence of career counselling in LEDCs, B4C saw the potential of peer-to-peer career counselling that would be basically free as it would be run by students themselves. Now piloted in seven schools in Dar es Salaam, it has proved extremely popular among students. It organises workshops where successful doctors, bankers, politicians, business and self-employed people explain how they managed their education to achieve what they did. Their stories are then published on the B4C website.
Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI): Because career guidance is often done poorly by teachers, CDI plans to build on B4C’s idea and create a ‘Connector Network’ of youth to connect schools with industries seeking recruits locally and encourage employers to appoint ‘connectors’ to their local schools so that each can know better what the other does.