The Conference entitled “The National Career Exposure Experience (CEE): Linking education with the world of work” was organised on 4th March 2020 by the Euroguidance MT in collaboration with the National School Support Services, Ministry for Education and Employment. “The keynote speaker was Dr. Raimo Vuorinen who works as Project Manager at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER) at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His keynote address was entitled “The Career exposure experience – boosting young people’s understanding of jobs and careers”
Dr Vuorinen referred to how the career exposure experience provides a link between the school, community and working life. During the CEE, the students deepen their knowledge of labour market by examining working life, labour market trends and different professions and by practicing job search. At the same time, they get insight into the industries, in the professions and entrepreneurship that interest them. By means of the CEE, employers can provide information on current and anticipated demand of skills and competences that are based on realities of the labour market. The keynote also provided examples from other countries of national policies on the CEE, challenges associated with such initiatives and different ways of using ICT in organising local co-operation. He also provided examples on how the experience, knowledge and feedback obtained by the learner during the CEE can further strengthen the links and relevance of the different subjects to the world of work and the impact of work-based learning on students’ employability skills. Dr Vourinen’s presentation is attached.
A panel discussion followed, where a number of stakeholders engaged in a discussion about the career exposure experience and its impact on the young persons’ preparation for the world of work. The audience participated in the discussion by asking questions and sharing their experiences regarding the topic. Finally, workshop sessions ensued where participants were given the opportunity to discuss the theme in small groups. Workshop write-ups can be found below.
Workshop 1: The role of the school in the organisation of the CEE
1. How can we engage different players within the school to collaborate in the CEE?
More emphasis on involving all stakeholders below:
- Head of School
- Career Advisors
- Career Guidance Teachers
- The secret is more communication between all the stakeholders, which is the best precursor of better collaboration and an ownership of the experience.
- This is the students’ experience not the Head’s or the Career Practitioners’
- It would also help to encourage more participation from the entities that accept students and a form of remuneration or tax rebates
- A thank you note from the Education Department would also help.
2. How can the school strengthen the role of parents in the CEE?
- Parents are a very important component and should be involved more
- They are a good source of experience and connections
- A number of challenges that students face are partly challenges by the uncertainty and misinformation of parents. It would be very helpful to provide parents with information sessions re CEE
- Parents are also a good source for providing placements
- They could also share their career experience with students
- Parents of 5th form students can also give advice to other parents of form 4 students.
3. How can the school strengthen the link with employers in the organisation of the CEE?
- Employers can be involved more at all levels:
- Through talks to students and parents
- And a follow up of the experience. Employers are not given any feedback by the schools
- Some schools are at an advantage as they are close to industrial areas. It is easier for them to build a link with the industries and get better contacts for the CEE
- It is important that employers understand the experience and we understand the employers
- It was also suggested to get entities to give sessions to students re employability qualities.
4. How can the school link the CEE as a transversal feature of the whole school curriculum development?
- The curriculum is so packed with academical content
- PSCD is not enough, with the limited amount of sessions that can be dedicated to careers
- It was also suggested to start building the students’ career path from primary school
- Careers Education should be integrated in all subjects especially for students who are likely to go to work straight after school
- It is important for schools to understand more the importance and benefits of the CEE.
Workshop 2 – The Challenges Associated with the Organisation of CEE.
- Regardless of students’ preference one needs to appreciate that some placements may not suit their needs
- Knowing the student is a must. Hence a school approach for the CEE is important
- At times students’ unexpected behavior
- Students in learning Centre should be included in the CEE participants list
- Mentors should be trained/briefed about handling SCPD students
- Mentors should be briefed and shared objectives for the CEE should be agreed upon
- Some placements are not of the same quality of others
- Unsuitable placements may have a detrimental effect on the outcome
- At times a CEO of a company may take the commitment to participate in a CEE. The mentor down the hierarchy of the company may lack the motivation to support the initiative
- In the presence of a pre organized programme students’ satisfaction is often enhanced
- At times students get bored when the experience is just observational
- There are a lot of variables involved in matching a placement; personal attributes, proximity
- It is difficult to convince students that the appreciation of soft skills is as important as the occupation related skills
- At times ALP students were encouraged to stop from furthering their studies
- Gathering and giving of feed back is crucial for the improvement of the CEE
- Longitudinal studies will encourage employers to support the initiative
- Family ethos may be of loggerheads with that of school and the employer
- The college community can be invited to support the CEE.
Workshop 3: Students’ preparation and follow-up of the CEE
How can we strengthen students’ preparation and follow up of the CEE?
- As an introduction there was an ice breaker whereby everyone had to speak to an unknown person and get to know him/her. Then each one was invited to talk about this person. CEE is not an experience for a life-long career to pursue, it can be an eyeopener for a career. A career is lifelong. Students might discover that their perceived career is not for them. CEE should not be linked solely to a future career.
- Certain schools do interviews as preparation for CEE and also as preparation for their future life. A guidance teacher said that at the end of Year 9, they speak to students about CEE; its rational, give application form. The choice of where to go can be outside their subject choice. In Year 9, students choose an area of COV; in Year 10 they can either continue on it or try something else. CEE is a taster of what it means to be on the place of work, not necessarily to taste the job of what the individual wants to pursue in life. The CEE is an educational experience as a holistic experience not solely for work.
- A teacher working in a Learning Support Centre said that they teach students commitment, obey to rules, social skills…they experience the real life on the job. Certain challenging behaviour students consolidate their aspiration..they behave well on the job.
- As follow up, certain students realise that what teachers say at school, is real on the job. Certain students become motivated after the CEE…school rules are rules also present on the job. Soft skills with our syllabi are not being addressed…they need to be given more importance. This transition in continuous assessment will eventually help to address lack of soft skills.
2. How can we link the CEE experience into other school subjects?
- While mentoring students, the students themselves can realise the link between school and the world of work. Students need to learn skills – at times language skills
- An English teacher said that she talks about careers; prepare interview and letter of application
- A religion teacher said that he addresses attitudes, behaviour, values.
- It has been noted that collaboration between employers and school is much better.
- The Health and Social Care EO said that students shadow but cannot change nappies. She said that on a National Basis, 20 schools are linked to 20 placements. Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11 go on placement for 3 days. Employers sacrifice a member of staff to give an experience to students. She said that ideally these 3 days are amalgamated to the 5-day CEE. This will be an opportunity to create bridges….in the long run, all stakeholders will benefit from this.
3. How can we engage students in using diverse media channels in reporting their learning experiences (eg info graphs, videos)?
- In VET Health and Social Care, students take videos of activities done with elderly. It is not assessed but obviously it can be used as such. Videos are taken with the consent of the people involved. In CEE, there is the reflective booklet whereby students reflect on their experience. In Health and Social Care, students use these videos to discuss the activity. Videos are uploaded in elderly home Website. It was said that reflection can be used through all sorts of media and not solely through writing.
- In SMC Verdala, photos of students at CEE are shown during Celebration Day.
- Accounts and Business Studies EO asked whether teachers know where students are sent for CEE. She said that Subject teachers can then do follow up during their lesson. Feedback can sometimes backfire; if the nature of work is at times boring, students might discover this during the CEE week. Subject teachers can also do mentoring and mentor their students. It was noted that certain schools don’t have the support of subject teachers. The success of CEE depends of how the school perceives it, starting from the college principal, head of school and the teachers themselves. Mr S Camilleri said that we still have to convince a number of persons on the relevance of the CEE. Syllabi need to be adjusted to help in this convincing.
4. How can we further strengthen the link between PSCD and career guidance?
- As a PSCD Teachers and Guidance Teachers, we are already working together. Problem is that we have one lesson per week at school and to catch up with other career activities is difficult. To what regards the Option Exercise, Guidance teachers help Year 8 students in decision making.
- PSCD syllabus needs to be discussed with Guidance Teachers, to what regards the career component, choice of subject etc. Guidance teachers should meet the PSCD teachers to know what the PSCD Syllabus is…one can use the subject meeting slot for this. In the PSCD Syllabus, decision making techniques are tackled, and teachers explore back up plan for when career planning is discussed. During PSCD, Teachers do a PPT presentation for subject choice.
- EO Engineering, said that students choose Engineering but for the wrong reason. At times parents’ intervention is to impose their choice…they choose for their children. Guidance teachers, Assistant Heads speak to parents and student to help in the decision but still parents choose for their children. Ultimately it is the student who should choose. Unfortunately, this happens often.
- To be frank at 12 years, students are still young to decide on such an important decision.
Workshop 4: Mentoring students during the experience
- Mentor meets HR before the CEE and talk about the mentoring process.
- For students who are under achievers – The idea of a Job coach during CEE.
- Is Career exposure exposing students to different careers? In some placements students can have a variety of jobs under one roof where others are very limited ex: hairdresser vs a placement in ICT
- The quality of the placements offered during CEE is very important. They should be chosen wisely.
The career exposure at Heritage Malta – The students visit different sites and are exposed to different careers during the cee week. After this experience they are asked to prepare a powerpoint on what they learnt from this experience. The entities organise a certificate giving ceremony whereby the students present their presentations.
- The logbook doesn’t work for a certain category of students.
- The aim of the logbook should be to help them stop and think about the experience and not to record it.
- The students should be encouraged to think critically- they can be prompted to suggest any improvements regarding the experience or the company. (this could be easily done during a good mentoring session)
- CEE needs preparation before, during and after.
- Many teachers/ psycho social team members are involved in the Job exposure. Therefore, it makes sense that they are exposed to training as well. It would be a good idea to give them training about mentoring. (what is requested of them)
- Employers are happy when students ask for their help even after the exposure.
- Students are too young at form 4. Perhaps one should consider if the CEE comes in later.
- Employers also pointed out that one week is too short for this experience to be beneficial.
Food for thought
- What is the way forward for the career exposure now that there are students studying VET subjects?
- What follow up is given to students who are stopped during the career exposure because of behavioural problems? Are they only being punished? Should they be given another chance or they are doomed forever?
Workshop 5: The Impact of the CEE on students’ transition to post-secondary education and/or the world of work.
Main points discussed during the workshop
- The CEE is a learning experience even when the student finds out that s/he does not want to do that particular work.
- In some cases it is also a learning experience for them when they are not given their first preference because they find out that there are other areas which they had not even considered.
Whole school approach:
- Developing the right work ethic, should not be the sole responsibility of the career guidance professionals, but a whole school approach should be adopted. This can be achieved by working on small things, such as properly greeting a member of staff, knocking before entering etc. Teachers of different subjects can contribute to developing the right values, starting from Primary School.
- It is not possible for a student to learn all there is to know about a job in a week. However during the CEE week students can focus on transversal skills. This is an area which many employers would like to see an improvement in. Transversal skills are linked to work ethic. The number one objective of the CEE should be to build on the work ethic (Mr Maione).
- Students’ attitude is often found lacking. Attitude is not something which can be learnt in the classroom, but the CEE can help them build on it.
- The career guidance professional from the school and the mentor from the company can focus their interventions on developing this attitude.
- One week is not enough to develop a desirable attitude, however it is a start.
- Work on attitude should start in the Primary School.
- For many students money seems to be the motivating factor in choosing a job. Suggestion to include more discussion and sessions on values. Give out the message ‘Let’s enjoy what we are doing’. Teachers encounter a lot of apathy, especially when students are invited to think, reflect and discuss experiences.
- Another suggestion – discuss with students rights and duties. A group member shared her experience of when as a young child she was taken to a factory. Maybe workplace visits can begin even at primary level.
- We also need to work with parents. They need to be on-board.
- A suggestion by an EO of a Vocational subject: instead of one week CEE in Year 10, the experience could be spread over 3 years. In Year 9 students focus on work ethic, while in Year 10 and 11 they learn about the different jobs and roles in a company.
- Another suggestion put forward by the EO is that students who have a Vocational subject, such as Hospitality, should not be limited to visit workplaces which are related to their studies.
- One teacher shared the experience that some years ago she was a member of a working group which was solely dedicated to the CEE. Therefore the team had a whole year during which to work with students in preparation for the CEE, including developing the proper work ethic.
- They meet with a large number of school drop-outs. They find that these students have unrealistic expectations about jobs.
- Discussion and clarification on how students have input from professionals about their careers before they make the subject choice in Year 8. Example given was the Teen Science Café.
- Sometimes Jobsplus personnel encounter situations where parents are a big hurdle.
- There are social cases which create situations whereby young people cannot continue with the scheme (Youth Guarantee) as they need the money which they can get by doing other kind of work (example collecting garbage).
- HOS experience – the school helped one student who was not interested in education to find a job. The student is much happier.
- The previous experience indicated how there are instances where help needs to be given out of the school grounds – OUTREACH services.
Benefits of CEE:
- In some cases the CEE helped some parents themselves in developing their own work ethic, as through the help of the guidance professionals they let their offspring ‘work’ in companies which are out of their hometown.
- Some students were offered summer jobs by the companies they did their CEE with.
Showcasing the learning outcomes:
- There is a lot of preparation for the experience however we need to dedicate more time processing the learning outcomes.
- This is done during PSCD, post-experience, when students share their experiences. However, as mentioned earlier, students may not be so willing to talk about it.
- One school experience – the youth worker meets at risk students regularly and dedicates time to processing experiences.
- Suggestion: using ICT, where students create a Whatsapp group and they write in this group. This was met with some criticism as some members felt that students are already alienated enough as things are, we do not need to give them further excuses to spend more time facing a screen.
- ICT could also be used by students to take photos and videos during the CEE and then share these during an assembly or in class.
- Another suggestion was that students could grade themselves and then meet the employer/manager and discuss their performance.
- One member commented on how during the experience it is important that students are treated as if they were proper employees and so if they did anything wrong, they are told about it.
- Suggestion: before the experience students are invited to determine three learning points which they need to work on during the week. The log book serves this purpose. Some students do not fill in the log book properly. A more pictorial version of the log book is being developed.
- There is a gap between the end of the CEE and when students actually join the work force. Therefore measuring the impact it has had may not be easy.
- This is where research can help – carry out long-term studies, starting from the tracer study to determine if the CEE has affected students’ educational and career choices.
- Unfortunately the education system still focuses on imparting a lot of knowledge at the expense of other activities. One school experience where they are focusing on outdoor activities and drama, which help develop the transversal skills mentioned earlier on, was shared. However (this is my personal comment) very often these activities are offered only to the lower streams. The idea being that it does not matter that these students miss out on lessons – they need these skills more. But is it fair on the other students? Don’t they need these activities to develop their transversal skills just like the others?
- We also need to invite industry more into schools, starting from the Primary years. HOS mentioned how in Germany it is the Chamber of Commerce which designs the school syllabi in order to ensure that the right skills for the industry are developed. However, there has to be a balance between the needs of the industry and educating the person as a whole rather than as a worker.