There are many interesting routes into any career path and anyone who is successful in their job will spend their entire working life learning new skills whilst they work. Just as you do when you're a parent - it is all about learning how to adapt, evolve and grow together.
Like every parent, I'm passionate about giving my children every opportunity to be successful. Of course I want my children to have the same opportunities I had but that doesn't necessarily mean I want them to have the same journey as me. I cannot recreate my life experiences for them, that's just not possible, they cannot follow the same path because as my life has changed so has theirs. My own career began when I joined a hairdressers to sweep the floor. It wasn't a job that on paper I wish for my daughter, though the skills I learnt there put me on the right path.
In today's uncertain economic climate and job market, young people are facing more challenges in starting their careers than my generation ever did. I have a teenage daughter, Sophia, who will soon take her first steps into a career. It is clear that there have been many changes in the workplace since I was in her shoes and Sophia will go into a more representative workplace. But the sheer competitiveness of finding work is a serious challenge for all young people.
It's vital we do more to help young people understand the skills they'll need to be successful in work, the jobs available and what they're good at (or what they need to develop). This can be done simply: by offering high quality work experience. I am fortunate that I can offer my own daughter work experience but its incredibly important to me that I can offer someone else's daughter work experience, someone whose parents are not in a position they can help. I want to do it for my daughter, but also for yours.
Those under 25 realise this. Latest research from the LifeSkills Youth Barometer shows 9 in 10 14-25 year olds think that work experience should be compulsory. That there is currently a market for paid work experience shows the scale of demand amongst young people.
My belief in the importance of work experience led me this year to become an ambassador for LifeSkills which aims to create 50,000 work experience opportunities this year alone with companies large and small across the UK. It's about democratising access to opportunities to get ahead in the world of work. None are paid for and what's great is the LifeSkills initiative is linked to free, interactive resources to help young people translate their experience into tangible skills.
Every young person wants to get ahead in life, but every parent wants that 10 times over for them. The best way we can support our children is by making sure they are provided with the skills they need to succeed. Self-confidence, an understanding of what employers expect and even basic tips on interview techniques are all important to pass on.
Parents know that our role is to encourage our children in learning as much as they can. We can help them with the journey from school to work by making work experience something they can access.
I, like every parent, want my children to achieve more than I can imagine for them. It's why we need to ensure we send them into the working world with their eyes open and some experience under their belt.
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