It’s that time of year again – no, not the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown… (although that is fast approaching), but something much more optimistic and hopeful – the 10th anniversary of National Careers Week (NCW). From the 1st – 6th March, students, employers and careers advisers will be engaged in exchanging information, ideas and contact numbers to help progress the hopes and dreams of thousands of young (and not so young) people across the country, albeit virtually this year!

National Careers Week is a community interest company whose stated mission is about “empowering positive change through careers education” and whose aim is to provide “brilliant, free and relevant resources for teachers and all young people”. Past iterations of the week have engaged with people across the globe, not just in the UK; in 2019, there were 264 million potential impacts, but this rose to over 314 million by time the 2020 impact was calculated, reaching over 46 million Twitter users. The week is sponsored by some of the biggest names in UK industry including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Burberry, NatWest, the NHS, The Royal Society and the British Army to name but a few.

This year, inevitably, things will be different, but the spirit of the week lives on and in 2021, the message is all about hope; encouraging and empowering young people to stay positive about their careers, offering them information about where to turn for support and advice, and letting them know that they are not facing the future alone, despite most schools being closed and most learning taking place remotely.

One of the first things you see when you visit the website is a video entitled “Hope”, which features interviews with young people expressing their worries and concerns for the future, wellbeing and stress management advice from Dr Radha Modgil, and a powerful and uplifting message of hope by spoken word artist, Kamal Ellis-Hyman. The film comes with a Hope Resource Pack for Assemblies, tutor/form time and PSHE lesson plans as well as guidance sessions which are designed to be shared with as many people as possible and parents can share these with their children too.

The official website is full of other useful guides and information about careers in different sectors, such as chemistry, racing and the motor industry, as well as more general resources aimed at getting young people to think about the skills they have and where these might be useful in the workforce. The Skills Builder Toolkit, for example, is an online self-assessment tool to help young people firstly recognise the skills they have, begin to talk confidently about their skills, and help them build on these to make compelling and successful applications to colleges and universities for potential jobs.

Special to this year too, is a tie-in with World Book Day on March 4th. The aim is to link with primary school children by providing some resources about the publishing industry and the process of writing a book, and these resources could easily be adapted for use in nursery settings with older, early years children. The idea of “What’s Your Story?” encourages children to think about some everyday superheroes and write a story about what their superpowers might be, and the things they do to help others. They are also being encouraged to design a book cover for their story and send them in or add them to social media using the hashtag #NCW2021. Resources can be downloaded directly from the website here.

Employers and organisations

National Careers Week aims to empower 3 groups of people through its work:

  1. Students
  2. Educators and Careers Advisors, and
  3. Organisations

As a parent or family member, you can access the resources and information on the website to pass on to young people; but as an employer, you can also look to connect with potential employees, especially apprentices who might be interested in starting or furthering a career in childcare.

One of the most well-trodden paths into a career in childcare is through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships can be done by anyone aged 16 or over and successful candidates can begin with either Level 2 or Level 3 training, but apprenticeships are not just for people starting out in their careers as there are apprenticeships at management level which are equivalent to post-graduate qualifications, so you could consider this route for empowering more senior staff to increase their qualifications or do some CPD too.

Here at Parenta, we train over 3,000 apprentices a year and help get people started in early years education so you can contact us on 0800 002 9242 or email hello@parenta.com to find out about how we could help you offer employment and training to young people today. And since funding is available from the government to help with the costs of apprenticeships, it is one of the most cost-effective ways to recruit and train new staff.

Make the pledge

You can make a pledge for your involvement in NCW on their website here and encourage others to do the same to show your support for the week. There’s no limit to the things you can pledge to do, but here are some ideas:

  • Run a career-focused session for staff. Remember that Careers Week is not only for students but you can develop the careers of your more experienced or older staff too
  • Promote and get involved with NCW by adding banners or tags to your social media sites using #NCW2021
  • Allow staff time off to get involved themselves
  • Go into local schools/colleges to promote your career area (virtually or in person if allowed)
  • Organise a webinar to promote early years childcare in your local area
  • Offer work experience to interested parties

And of course, there’s nothing to stop you coming up with your own ideas and making your own pledge either.

Other useful links include:

Family careers treasure hunt – help young people map out their career
NatWest Dream Bigger – help young people consider a career in entrepreneurship
MyLearnLab – access resources from top name employers across the country
https://www.notgoingtouni.co.uk/Not Going To Uni – information dedicated to helping school and college leavers make informed decisions about their future
Parenta training
Government apprenticeships information

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