• Ian

Marking National Careers Week – how employers can do their bit today, tomorrow and for years to come


The annual National Careers Week, which runs in 2022 on 7th-12th Feb, was created as a celebration of careers guidance in education across the UK, helping young people leaving education to pursue rich and rewarding careers.


This year’s theme is “Empowering Positive Change Through Careers Education” and companies and educational bodies across the UK are running events and programmes to engage others and show their support.


We believe strongly that career education shouldn’t stop the day a person leaves school, college or university. Rather, it’s the duty of an employer to create a training programme and pathway for each and every employee to help them carve out a successful career. The first job an individual takes might be completely different from where they end up but if an employer gives their staff opportunities and learnings from day one, every step on the ladder will be beneficial.


To mark our support for National Careers Week, we’ve drafted this guide for employers on how they can help support every member of staff (new, existing, young, old) in developing the skills required for the workplace of the future.


The organisers of National Careers Week, alongside Economics teacher Mark Preen, have produced a report called The Future of Work Guide. This is an incredibly insightful document and one we recommend all employers read.


In the guide, it discusses several key skills and traits which they believe will be crucial in the future for fostering successful careers. We’re going to go through a number of these and how employers can help.


Computer or “tech-savvy” skills, such as coding


If you have school-aged children, you’ll be aware of the lessons they’ll be having in coding and programming. This is incredible learning that wasn’t available to us when we were at school.


This education will provide a great starting point for school leavers but there is more an employer should be doing in this area to help young employees further their knowledge and abilities.


  • Make sure the systems and tools your business uses are fit for purpose and that proper training is provided to all staff who use them.

  • Create a committee for young employees to oversee company IT (mis)use, foster greater security knowledge sharing and to uncover new tools and processes to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Include IT options in the training courses offered to employees to let them pursue their passions.


Data literacy to use and understand the “big data” which machines produce.


Data literacy is defined as the ability to read, write, analyse, and communicate with data. So many business decisions these days are data driven, from marketing and sales to employee engagement and more.


The use of data is only going to grow and having tomorrow’s workforce already equipped to understand how to interpret and use data will be incredibly valuable.


As an employer, you can benefit from this by understanding what the school and university curriculum covers in terms of data literacy and then shaping your approach in the same way. This will ensure that new starters can hit the ground running with a tried and tested form of data analysis, rather than trying to learn a new way of doing things (that might be quite new to you too!).


Emotional intelligence


For many companies, developing the skills of their staff is a low priority. Perhaps the perception among line managers and business owners is that training employees in social and emotional competency will not improve their work performance. However, this largely unfounded assumption couldn't be further from the truth. Recent studies have found that there's a strong link between improved social and emotional skills and increased performance. Staff who know how to interact with each other and deal with stress, conflict and changing priorities will be more successful in their roles than those who don't.


We’ve said before how important emotional intelligence is for the managers and leaders within your business to help in retaining talent and clients. And, with young people now learning at school how to collaborate effectively with others, this could leave those in the middle of your workforce in urgent need of some emotional intelligence training too.


Employers should develop the people skills of their employees through a structured programme that nurtures personal qualities such as empathy, self-awareness and self-control.


Cultural and global awareness


Thanks to increased globalisation and technological progress, the workforce of the future is highly likely to be working with people from around the world and are therefore encouraged to learn languages at school and be more aware of cultural differences.


They will therefore be looking at employers’ cultural diversity and inclusion programs when determining where to apply so it’s important that you as an employer has such a thing in place.


A good way of testing this is by running an employee survey to understand the demographics within your workforce and how your staff feel about your diversity and inclusion policies. It could be you have a lot of work to do.


The next step would be to establish a taskforce, led by HR, who can look at making improvements and championing cultural diversity.


Resilience


As covid-19 has taught us, change is inevitable and it is how we respond to it that determines our success.


By developing resilience, one can handle challenges more effectively, reduce the risk of burnout and have better relationships with colleagues. It’s therefore easy to see why young people in education are learning about resilience, in particular how to cope with change and manage a smooth transition from one task to another.


As an employer, it’s your duty to foster resilience across your workforce and it can be done with the following steps:

  • Encourage SMART goal setting so that all employees are set realistic targets

  • Conduct Myer Briggs analysis to identifiy whuch personalities are more prone to challenges and stress, and to enable employees to work better with each other

  • Offer coaching or confidential mental health support

  • Assign everyone a mentor or buddy to discuss problems or issues they don’t feel comfortable discussing with their line manager

  • Foster a culture of accountability and teamwork


Networking


Educators have recognised the value in introducing the skill of networking to young people before they start work to help in securing a job and making valuable contacts as they embark on the career ladder.


It’s therefore vital that employers can put this energy to good use and ensure that their workforce’s ability to communicate, collaborate and build relationships isn’t hindered by technology or old-fashioned policies. Introduce cross-division events, sports teams and societies and ensure that your leadership team makes the time to walk the floors getting to know the people that work for them.


The future of work will be an exciting place because we have an ambitious, inquisitive, sociable and smart generation being primed to start their careers. Make sure you do your duty as an employer to help them to continue to thrive once they start work.


For more information or support in elevating your company culture and people management programmes, please get in touch.

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