THE BLOG
02/01/2018 10:55 GMT | Updated 02/01/2018 10:55 GMT

What Career Guidance Do You Give Your Kids These Days?

The kids have been back at school, or college, for a term and the first teachers’ reports of this academic year have been received and noted.

Younger ones started their first school or nursery.

GCSE’s and A levels exams are out of the way for another year.

Sixth former’s started back and older students have had their Christmas break from University.

But when people start to ask them what they want to do with their lives, what do they say? What career advice are they getting? Probably not a great deal I’m afraid.

What career advice can you offer your kids these days?

The days of a job-for-life have long since faded away. Ask anyone in the banking sector!

It is often said the likelihood is that for many of the youngsters in education the job they will end up doing at the end of their education doesn’t even exist yet!

When the ‘gig economy’ is plastered all over the news with some item about Uber, Deliveroo or any of the other ‘virtual’ businesses it’s difficult to consider anything other than working at multiple roles.

Charles Handy’s concept of ‘portfolio careers’ from his book Understanding Organisations springs to mind.

Many youngsters now consider trying several part-time jobs as soon as they are old enough to work. Some even consider starting their own business whilst studying.

They work on the basis they may not make a success of whatever career choice they make and will already have a plan B with their own business. Who knows what the business may be, but at least they are demonstrating an entrepreneurial side, which should hold them in good stead for the future. And for some it is a way of trying to help fund their education.

Is there anything from our own experiences we can offer as guidance? I’m not the best person to ask on this having been made redundant seven times in the past 19 years! But then that is part of the issue.

Unless youngsters want to go into something specific and long term like accountancy, or become a doctor, or lawyer, then there should be some longevity. Though perhaps not always in the accountancy profession.

However, from a general employment perspective I would encourage them to learn continuously and not to rely on others (except family).

The issue I see is the school curriculum needs to deliver skills in their students to be able to do the jobs - rather than industry currently relying on an aging but “adaptive through experience” workforce.

Not long ago, the majority of people I worked alongside within IT were all in their 20′s and 30′s. Now they are nearly all 50+ so there is an apparent lack of new blood to fill the skills gap.

One piece of advice may be to not to chase jobs, but rather pursue a vocation. Exams only get you to the next stage, so don’t sweat it. Ensure you take A level and degree subjects that appeal to you, that interest you.

Education debt is a significant factor now and could be perceived as the killer of ambition. It is therefore even more important to make the right choice. Don’t fritter away freedom of choice by buying into stuff that isn’t needed.

I love the phrase I heard recently – ‘always paddle your own canoe’.

I advise my kids to get as much experience as they can. Try different things. Go the self-employed route if they feel it’s right for them. Don’t feel constrained by external factors.

I have learnt that whatever you chose as a job make sure it will make you happy before it makes you rich financially!

I believe we are seeing the return of the Jack of all trades…

Yes, I know, it should read ‘Jack of all trades… master of none!’

Well, that’s the traditional use of the term.

The original phrase was just the first part and taken to mean the person was a generalist. The ‘master of none’ bit was added later to imply the person had no expertise in any one area.

But, is it still true?

Does it still resonate in today’s ‘gig economy’? Does it fit with ‘portfolio careers’, if that phrase still pertains?

I firmly believe that ‘Jack of all trades’ is now a niche occupation in the new economy, and something our multi-talented kids should be aspiring for.

What do you think?