It’s National Careers Week – a week to encourage students from colleges and schools to explore future careers. As professionals that started their careers on placements and a business that has taken on several students in the past, we understand the importance of engaging with young people and preparing them to be successful in their careers.

In addition to the relationships we’ve built with students, we work closely with clients who work in industries that are becoming increasingly reliant on the younger generation for their skills. This is particularly true for the rail and technologies industries but can be related to most sectors.

Because of our extensive experience working with rail clients, we are acutely aware of the industry’s ageing workforce and serious skills shortage. This, combined with the fact that the industry is undergoing rapid digital change, presents a potentially serious problem for the future, particularly when we already know that there will be new roles we aren’t even aware of yet.

The jobs that currently exist in rail will be considerably different in a few years’ time, so it’s becoming increasingly important to nurture talent from a young age, equipping them with the right skills they need to enter the workforce. Using practical means to educate young people about their possible future careers and the options they have is absolutely crucial.

The skills deficit applies to other scientific and engineering fields too, with the UK’s STEM skill shortage being well documented. Research from revealed that in 2018, lack of uptake in STEM careers was costing businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.

Despite there being a widening skills gap, engineering industries tend to be recession-proof fields that offer an abundance of opportunities to upskill, scale the career ladder, travel the country and earn a decent living. Joining forces with colleges and schools is an ideal way to empower young people and prove to them that STEM-related jobs are highly rewarding. Doing so is the only real way we can truly grow the future workforce and help bring young people closer to successful jobs.

Awareness campaigns like National Careers Week are essential in gathering momentum and bringing students and businesses together. So, in light of the event, what can employers do to arm students with practical insights to prepare them for life after education? One way is to make sure you talk to the young people you know about the options they have, rather than just showing them the after- effects of going to and coming home from work. To help reach bigger audiences, we’ve rounded up some ideas below. 

  1. Skills bootcamps

Some governing bodies deliver bootcamps whereby they partner with colleges and enlist the help of employers to run training programmes that are designed to boost students’ employability skills and give them valuable work experience. It’s worth checking out what’s going in in your local area to see if there are any upcoming skills bootcamps your organisation could get involved with.

  1. Job shadowing

Job shadowing can be an effective way to give students direct experience in a working environment they can picture themselves belonging in, while also providing them with a useful network of contacts for the future. Job shadowing also has the benefit of being reasonably easy to set up.

  1. Mock interview sessions

Job interviews can be a pretty daunting prospect for a young individual who has absolutely no idea of what an interview might entail. Organising mock interview sessions with students from colleges and schools can be a great way to help them feel better prepared for the future.

  1. Host talks at schools and colleges

There are often significant barriers to overcome between the younger generation and their ideas of the workplace. A practical way to break down these barriers is to host a talk in a school or college that focuses on your job position or invite other experts within your organisation to speak about their experience first-hand in terms that chime with a younger audience. 

  1. Mentoring

Connecting with young people in schools and colleges through a mentoring scheme is an inspiring way to support individuals with their next steps towards a rewarding career. Identifying their personal strengths and guiding them through potential career paths can help point them in the right direction.

For more articles on careers and young people, take a look at our article: 5 reasons young people should consider working in rail.

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Jen Derrick

Author Jen Derrick

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