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Developing skills, when & who should do it?

November 20, 2018


Skills are being spoken about more and more.  Although it has been raised in the news for quite a few years that there is a skills shortage, and it is preventing employers filling the vacancies; it has only quite recently really started to make a real impact, and for changes to start happening across the UK to acknowledge this.  Could Brexit and the highlighted need to develop our own talent be that push to get things going?

My teenager told me recently that they are doing work on different skills, like resilience at school.  Which was great to hear, but I do feel that there should be clearer definition in where the teacher’s role is in teaching life skills and employability skills.  As last year when my teen took their options the Drama teacher advised her to take Drama as a GCSE as it would help her in job interviews.  However she is a very sociable and confident person so doesn’t need to take a subject to help her become more confident.  Granted having a mum that is careers professional has helped when she took her options, as I know which subjects would suit her better and ensure that she takes the right subjects for her future career.  Looking back at my own work in schools; students found it quite stressful when taking options, as a lot of teachers were putting their own thoughts in, and students felt quite overwhelmed and very confused about what was right for them.

However another way of thinking about is that in an ideal situation, parents should be helping children to develop skills from birth: from physical skills like sitting up and walking; to learning how to speak and feed themselves.  Personally, I have taught my children from being toddlers how to deal with conflict, appropriate language and communication skills; fine motor skills like putting the right shape in the right hole and building blocks; and learning different skills in sport activities (good sportsmanship being a key one) like working as a team and hand eye coordination.

Subsequently the ‘Youth Employment UK’ released a report earlier this year on the roles of family in social mobility.  It outlines that: “families are important for fostering trust, attitudes to work and ambition and passing on the networks that lead to better paying job.”( The key point is that it is families, not just parents. 

On a personal note, my father has always made a point of being well paid to my children.  Therefore it was no shock when I looked at some job profiles with my teenager that she was drawn to the average salary.  Obviously as a careers professional, I also try to encourage thinking about careers that interest her and link with her own skills and abilities.

Nevertheless it also outlines in this report that “the rest of the community can step up and help those who do not have the family resources to support them.”  Although I interpret this as being about the families financial circumstances; rather than the families knowledge of careers and employability and where to look for it.  I do see the value of looking at the community to become more involved and supportive in helping young people to become ready for the world of work, not just schools, employers and parents.  Furthermore, it is quite interesting that I have recently been networking with ‘parenting takes a village’ ( ); who bring a whole range of professionals together to offer advice and support to families, including career guidance (amongst much, much more).

Ironically research recently released from CBI outlines that half of young people feel their education has not prepared them for the world of work. 

Leaving us with the question on why we are not pulling the community, families, schools, employers and professionals together to develop the skills and knowledge of young people to make them ready for the world of work.  Quite importantly that a careers professional should co-ordinating this work; along with providing careers education, information advice and guidance (CEIAG). As a group make a bigger impact than an individual.

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