Monday, April 27, 2009

Education as Your Next Career

Almost every day I see another article full of recommendations about entering Education as a career field and as an answer for those who have lost jobs as a result of the US recession. As an educator myself (years of teaching in public secondary schools, adult education and university level) I certainly encourage anyone with both the interest and desire to go for it. The US Department of Labor is calling for a shortage of workers in education within the next five years. However, be aware of the following: a general shortage of teachers will not happen everywhere...for instance, in many New England states where the population is aging rapidly, teachers who retire will generally be replaced only in the cities where the immigrant population will be the only population showing growth; real shortages exist now in special education, secondary mathematics and science and that will continue..if these specialities are not your forte, then chances are you will not make the cut. Finally, it is a fact that half of all new teachers, no matter what their ages or preparation leave the profession within the first five years. Culturally, we are not a society that values teachers, not in respect nor in salary.

If you plan to become an educator, go into it with your eyes open. Shadow a teacher, do informational interviews, volunteer in the classroom setting if you can. Make sure you understand what you are getting into. Do not enter education, or any other career for that matter, unless your personality type, interests, values and transferable skills match that of the field. There is a lot more to teaching than "summers off"; you and our children deserve better.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Australian career education project calls for greater career awareness for young children

A recent top news story in the Australian press reports on Principals Australia, a career education project sponsored by the federal department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations which calls for career development concepts to be included in a new national school curriculum in that country. The article termed this "career counselling" and this led to an outcry from various sources calling the idea presented by the project "crazy stuff", among other very negative comments.

The projects sponsors countered by citing research showing that children as young as six can identify what they thought they wanted to be upon growing up. Since children identify with their parents and their parents' careers at young ages, the sponsors feel that explicit exposure to career developments ideas, etc, would be helpful to encourage children to see that there is a wide range of careers out there, beyond what their parents do.

As an educator and a career coach, this is far from "crazy stuff"...in fact, I recently served on a committee that awarded mini grants to teachers teaching at as young as the kindergarten level to fund career exploration projects. It is never too early to gain more knowledge about the world of future..especially about the world of future careers, and that indeed applies to all ages.