The role of school in students’ career choice

School plays a central role in our society; it impacts on education and social integration among youngsters. Even if school carries out a noble mission, it fails to adapt to students’ individuality through the crucial step of transition towards work.

The 2010 European conference regarding: “School, the future of Europe? Europe, the future of school?” (European conference organised by AEDE-France association) highlighted the issue of the transition from school to work for youngsters. It revealed the significant impact of first jobs on career paths especially through numerous short-term odd jobs generating difficulties of integration and access to autonomy among young people. The resulting consequences have a negative impact on their career path for many years.

The political reactions following the conference held the youngsters responsible: «“Young people lack of skills, self-management skills, motivation, ability to adapt, they should be proactive, and entrepreneurial”.

Three years later, the gap between school and working life seems just as wide and educational institutions do not always offer young people concrete and efficient ways to improve and to make their transition to work easier.

Career counselling services (PMS centres in the Belgian French-speaking educational system) have the skills to guide the students if schools allow them to meet them for this purpose. Their interventions consist of general information on the various fields of study. Taking personality into account to help young people make a choice only occurs for some of them upon request. The collective reflection process on the transition from school to future career is not the norm within schools themselves.

Associations attempt to meet the increasing demand for help in this field with new approaches, but unfortunately, here, it is the lack of resources which does not make room for action.

Lack of financial resources or insufficient attention?

First of all, the lack of financial means may explain why schools do not provide their students with a personalised follow-up regarding their career guidance.

However, money is not the only alternative. The lack of educational objectives including career guidance, following the example of Canada, constitutes a major loophole regarding the role of school.

If career guidance has to take place in schools, teachers need to integrate it in their educational programs and to be trained. But if they never got out of school themselves, then how can they possibly fulfil this role?

Nowadays, as long as school is not able to guide, parents have to take over individually. Our 6-session Personalised Career Guidance process responds to parents, but can also respond through activities in schools aware of their mission and there is still work to be done in this field.

For the others, it is necessary to raise consciousness about a situation which the 2010 conference did not leave room for. If this consciousness raising is only at the beginning of its development today, it leads young people towards failure.

Young people fail not because of a skills issue or a lack of interest in their studies, but because they lack a precise goal at an already difficult age when everything related to work still seems a long way off.


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