We know young people need to be prepared for the future of work. Part of this preparation is ensuring young people have access to quality careers advice while they’re in school. According to our online community, there’s work to be done in the quality department.
When we published Nicole’s story What The Career Counsellor Doesn’t Tell You we received lots of surprising responses. Like Nicole, most of the people we heard from weren’t thrilled with the careers advice they’d received in school. Here’s what these young Aussies told us about their experiences.
Tate from Melbourne:
Careers education was never a major part of my schooling, even in VCE. We only had one careers counsellor for 160 year 12 boys who were months away from leaving secondary school. My friends and I were pushed by our head of year and the careers counsellor to pursue broad bachelor degrees at Melbourne’s top universities. It felt more like the school was just trying to show prospective parents how many students could get into the best universities, rather than any actual career guidance that prepared us for our future careers.
Emma from Perth:
A lot of what they told us was 100% designed to get the school high average Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER) results and make the school look good. I was told I shouldn’t do science or maths and, because I was good at the arts, should focus on creating something I could sell. So despite having high marks in accounting and higher math classes, I did a bachelor of arts at university. Now I work in admin.
Tash from Melbourne:
My careers counsellor gave me options on what I could study but wasn’t able to provide me with further info on what the jobs looked like, the industry or challenges. I studied Arts at university but had no idea where it would lead me. My English teacher helped me more than the careers counsellor. Now I’m working on a startup that focuses on preparing high school students by connecting them with the industry so that they have a better understanding of the workplace.
Cecelia from Melbourne:
Careers education in schools is extremely dated. It was recommended to me to continue studying mathematics (despite terrible grades) because it’s “good to keep your options open”. I think high school careers counsellors need to be abolished and external advisors brought in. The advisors should be currently working in a range of fields so they can provide up-to-date, accurate advice for students to really point them in the direction they want to go in.
Anonymous from Melbourne:
When I met with our careers counsellor I told her I wanted to be a writer and asked her about university degrees and courses, she said she didn’t know of any. She recommended writing at TAFE. I was surprised and disappointed as I had worked hard, had excellent marks and always wanted to go to university as my own mother had not. I found myself having to do research myself.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversation. We’ve done a bunch of research about the ways work is changing, and what you can do now to get ahead of the curve. Check it out!
All responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.