As part of Colleges Week 2021 – a chance to celebrate and shout about all of the brilliant things that colleges do, day in and day out, to build communities, boost businesses and support individuals, we caught up with Jordan Swift, Director of Marketing and School Partnerships to find out more about why and what Cheshire College is doing to help young people navigate and enrich their career planning. Here’s what she had to say…
“Like many colleges across the country, last week marked the much anticipated first on-Campus Open Evening in nearly 2 years.
As much as we have embraced the benefits of digital recruitment and know that we could not have navigated the last 18-months without it, I do need to confess that I was relieved to finally be in a position to meet with prospective learners face-to-face.
Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) now has digital streams running through its core. It was clear to see at our Open Evening the impact the Covid19 pandemic has had on current Year 11s in their access to experiences that support and enrich their career planning.
Like many careers teams across the country, our approach and innovation has been fast-tracked and all colleagues worked tirelessly to support young people in navigating their careers decisions at a time when the job market, university offers and Apprenticeship provision were changing at the speed of light.
Don’t get me wrong, for all of my working life in education, young people have walked through our doors at an Open Evening and looked petrified to say, “I have no idea what I want to do next!” This is always the most common response from 15-year-olds. What was concerning, when delving deeper into conversations, is they had no toolkit to help them navigate their way and no experiences to draw upon to start to fine tune their career options.
Within my team, I am fortunate to have some very experienced, and skilled Careers Advisors and between us we have over 80 years of experience. Despite this, collectively we agree that we’ve never been busier at an event!
During our de-brief the next day, our focus shifted to why and what can we do to help.
We came to 2 conclusions. Whilst we know locally, across the Cheshire region, many people have switched to Zoom video calls with employers, online Q&As and virtual work placements, all of which are a valued part of any careers programme… they don’t always work in coordination with access to experience, time to explore, reflect and review skills and strengths, the opportunity to, on occasion, put yourself out of your comfort zone, to feel the experience of walking into a workplace, greet a stranger and have access to one-to-one careers advice. One quite simply doesn’t work without the other.
So, what next? Similar to other teams, resource and time are precious commodities, so we have to think smart, whilst still ensuring we have an impact. After much discussion, we landed on 2 new initiatives:
- Develop bitesize videos aimed at parents supporting their young person to explore jobs. Many parents come to us, wanting to help but just not knowing where to start and what resources to use.
- Introduce twilight, group careers guidance sessions for Year 11 pupils, aimed at 3-6 young people each evening exploring careers resources, asking questions, identifying skills and likes.”