I’ve spent most of of my professional life helping people get jobs. I studied journalism and have a degree in creative writing. I am a published author. I even worked at the BBC. I’ve spent the last three years working at colleges and schools to help with careers and academic decision making.
I have contacted every major news outlet, education and careers site, blogs and papers (all the big ones, you’ll know them) to try and engage them on the subject of careers guidance in schools and colleges in this country. It is a known issue within the education sphere but with no budget and fewer good news headlines to be generated from doing only that which is expected, schools and colleges are doing the bare minimum. If that. And no one. Seems. To give a shit. All those news outlets that I alluded to earlier are utterly disinterested in exploring this.
I have spoken to or contacted all but maybe 2 or 3 secondary schools and colleges in Cheshire – which is a fair few – of them, 3 schools have begun any meaningful dialogue. The evidence does not bear out their claims that they are doing the right things, the students’ experiences don’t, the parents’ frustrations all run utterly counter to the claims the schools make. That should be news worthy, at least within the circles where people should know better.
I have emailed editors at these papers with these concerns, even the local paper opted instead to publish a seemingly endless stream of Dominos’ adverts on their front page. I’ve asked for help to shine a light on this issue, with evidence of the widespread disinterest. Some of these editors appear to be a bollock’s hair older than my 7 year old and with no experience of actual careers guidance, or helping people find jobs, just shiny, shiny, London media wankiness with the kind of haircuts that irritate regular people. I don’t say that as an embittered outsider but rather to emphasize that there is an issue of style over substance, these matters are serious. They are serious for the students, for the parents, for the economy and the country but these aren’t serious people. They are people who prioritize the superficial, sound bite laden quick points scoring wins.
If these guardians of education and careers, these bastions of common sense who wield considerable influence and could potentially affect real change – or at least galvanize others to do so, can’t bring themselves to weigh in on a real issue then what will change? Schools and colleges lack the resources to do this properly themselves and are blithely ignoring Ofsted’s and the DfE’s concerns, and who can blame them? With everything else going on they have to pick their battles. This isn’t on people’s radars and until people bigger than me do something about it, it won’t be. If you look on twitter, facebook, wordpress blog reader, linked in, finding areas where people are discussing this is incredibly hard – but if you ask parents, students and actually many teachers, this is an area of real concern but without the exposure it’s like a will o’ the wisp.
Yes, I’m pissed off at them for ignoring me, and yes the high handed arrogance with which I, and I’m sure many like me, are disregarded shows a complete lack of professionalism, ironically a characteristic that is highly prized by employers and would warrant an article on a careers blog in any case. I think that’s at the heart of my frustration, I would expect schools and colleges to be defensive and guarded, that’s natural. What’s been unexpected is that the people who are supposed to hold them to account barely mention the subject and when approached on the matter can’t even muster enough professional courtesy to respond. How can they guide and advise others on career development and professional comportment when they lack the basic etiquette required of their own jobs?
In my career as a headhunter I’ve dealt with CEOs and the boards of enormous, global businesses and as busy and pressured as their lives are, I’ve always been able to get them on the phone and elicit a response from them, even when they are telling me ‘no’. Professionalism still means something in some quarters and if we are to get serious about careers advice in this country, the people who choose who to engage with such matters for publication, in lieu of advice being given at a school level, should have a basic understanding of the rules of engagement.
Here endeth the rant – this is an issue that should be of real concern, the people who should be doing it aren’t (in many cases), the people who should be raising awareness of that aren’t doing it (in many cases) and those same people lack the professional comportment skills to being advising anyone in any case.