With the latest batch of school leavers searching for jobs, employers continue to complain about the lack of sufficient employability skills, while parents struggle to help with relevant careers advice. To help address these problems, a charity in Milton Keynes has come up with a new scheme called ‘World of Work’, comprising interactive classroom games along with guidance to encourage guest employees into primary schools to answer questions about their jobs.
“Technological advances and increasing global competition means today’s children will experience employment challenges their parents didn’t face, ” said Tom Bulman, Worktree’s CEO. “World of Work helps schools to start earlier with creative new ways of motivating and preparing pupils for the future…this is a quick and cost effective way to do it.”
Worktree has already delivered the activity to more than 4,000 primary pupils aged 9-11, with impressive feedback: 97% of the children said they ‘learned a lot about work’, 98% of the teachers said ‘it helped develop the children’s self-confidence’ and 99% of the guests said they ‘would be happy to do it again’.
One pupil said: “When the people came in and spoke to me, it changed everything”. Another said: “I used to find school boring but after meeting the guests I thought I should concentrate more in school because then I can get higher grades in college and university and I can get the job I want more easily”.
The World of Work initiative is backed by academic research showing pupils are likely to achieve more in school if they have work aspirations; they prefer careers information directly from employees; and the more employee contacts they have, the more they learn about work. The government has begun to realise that careers advice and knowledge of the world of work is crucial at primary level. Evidence from work in Milton Keynes schools suggests that simply meeting and interviewing guest employees, even for just a few minutes each in the style of speed dating, helps develop aspirations and social mobility.
Andrea Curtis, Head Teacher of Bushfield School, said: “The World of Work activity supported literacy development and critical thinking skills because the children had to listen to what was said and digest that before asking another question. It was very inspiring, very real.”
Worktree believes every pupil should meet 50 employees before leaving school and that it is not difficult for teachers to recruit guests from their personal networks, simply to answer questions about their work.
Worktree believes further that Ofsted should include within its framework a requirement for primary schools to introduce Year 5-6 pupils to guest employees. “We’ve had positive meetings about World of Work with our MPs and their colleagues in Westminster and hope Ofsted will soon require schools to introduce children to guest employees,” said Tom Bulman.
Due to the great success of this scheme in Milton Keynes, Worktree is now ready to expand its ‘World of Work’ primary school resource nationally. For more information about the World of Work visit www.wowtalk.org.uk