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Know the facts

Below are some ideas to help discuss careers and the world of work with your child including, why developing key employability skills is important.

Know the Facts: Careers and Employability Skills

On average people spend around one third of their life at work so it is important to do something that you enjoy. There are many different roles and industries to work in ranging from an astronaut to a zoologist, so your children can be sure that if there is something they enjoy there is probably a way that they can do it for a living.

With so many careers to choose from there is a lot of information out there about the working world including, the types of responsibilities in each role, the qualification and skills needed and information about salaries and role progression. By talking openly about careers and employability skills children and young people will develop a better understanding of the options available to them, allowing them to make informed decisions about their school subject choices, whether further education is for them and ultimately where they see themselves in the future.

The difference between a profession, career and a job

  • To be a professional you need to have been educationally trained to do something, for example medicine or accounting is a profession and so a doctor or an accountant is called a professional.
  • A tradesman is the term given to skilled manual workers who have knowledge of the practice and theory of their work. A hairstylist, butcher, carpenter, plumber or a jeweller are all considered to be tradespeople.
  • The word career comes from the Latin word 'carrerra' meaning 'race'. This is where the expression 'rat race' comes from which is sometimes used to describe excessive work or a lack of work-life balance. As in any race you need to be able to compete with others, therefore equipping your child with the skills necessary to be in the working world allows them to be 'fit' for their career. It only becomes a 'rat race' when they have not used their skills properly to achieve a work-life balance.
  • A career is normally used to define a period of progression in either education or work so is a little more than a nine-to-five job without any development and progression into more senior roles.
  • A job on the other hand is normally used to simply mean paid work (although other types of work can also be called 'a job' such as volunteering). Some jobs might not be considered careers as they cannot take the individual any further up the employment ladder, however, not everyone wants to have a career so a job is perfect for some people.
  • Work or employment is used to describe doing physical or mental activities in exchange for remuneration (payment).
  • So as you can see there are lots of words and descriptions given to different aspects of employment!

Key employability skills

In addition to education and experience, employability skills are really important in any job. Employees need to have a lot of skills to be truly employable. The ten we have identified as most relevant to most careers are:

  • Problem Solving
  • Literacy and Communication
  • Business Awareness
  • Numeracy
  • Responsibility and Dependability
  • IT and Technical Skills
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Positive Enthusiasm and Commitment
  • Organisation

But remember there are lots of different skills needed to succeed in work and different roles will need skills specific to them, so find out as much as you can about your chosen career in order to make sure you succeed in achieving it.