When I say that young people don’t know how to job search, is that because it isn’t taught in schools? Sure there is the internet, their friends and family, but in large part, society as a whole counts on our education systems to teach young people whatever knowledge they need to get a good start in life; at least in the developed world.
While acknowledging that schools and the people who work there are under increasing demands to teach beyond reading, writing and mathematics, I have to wonder at how much job searching is touched on. Teachers these days have some groups of people wanting them to get back to basics. Other groups of people want issues they feel passionate about taught to our children. Yes I can certainly empathize with the people who design the curriculum as they try to keep everybody happy; all the while in a system that has the same number of hours in a day, weeks in a school year.
The case I would make in order to have more attention paid to teaching effective job searching skills would be that the point of educating young people is to give them the knowledge and skills to live successful lives. We give them diplomas to acknowledge that success, grades to gauge their comprehension, and then we turn them loose as young adults.
Now I can imagine my fellow colleagues in the education systems around the world are dying to read to the end and hit the reply button so they can tell me how they do teach job searching techniques in school. That may be. If so, there are a great many folks I know who collectively must have been away or not paying attention when it was taught.
I can not nor would I ever use my own school experience as any relevant addition to this piece. I graduated from high school in 1978, University in 1981, College in 1983. Just because they didn’t teach it then doesn’t mean anything when comparing what is taught today. And my memory might be suspect! So I rely on the feedback I get from people I meet in my personal and professional life who tell me their own experiences with the school system. Some of them are unemployed youth and adults, some of them teaching professionals.
It can certainly be said and well defended too I suppose that the information I’m getting isn’t scientifically gathered; certainly isn’t the universal experience, and things therefore may be quite different in various parts of the world. I could check in with local school boards too and get the definitive answers when it comes to education curriculum and how much if any time is spent on job search techniques.
I haven’t done this however, and here is why. No matter the answer I would get from any educator, I still see a steady stream of young adults who show only the most rudimentary skills when it comes to knowing how to look for work. Most of these people tell me how they are going about looking for work usually has come from a family member or friend.
Now, suppose you and I did agree that learning how to look for a job is important enough to teach in schools. Could we agree on the grade or grades in which this should be taught? What about the length of time it gets covered? I know there are career days where community members file into schools to talk about their jobs, and career counselling in high school is supposed to help shape a students future education to meet the requirements of potential job posting. So yes some time is spent getting ready.
What about the kids who won’t be heading off to University or College? They should be equally prepared to know how to go about getting a job. There is a huge responsibility on the students themselves however to be receptive to this kind of educating, and we have to be honest and say there are some teens who know it all, think their teachers are out of touch and in short, close their minds to learning. That’s reality.
It’s an unfortunate reality however, that many young people are leaving school (before or after graduation), and don’t have the necessary skills to compete for work. So they may have recent education, academically know their stuff, but how to market themselves and compete for work is a missing link.
But wait: I can recall some young people who have learning disabilities, dysfunctional families and living conditions that made learning hard if not impossible. Could they have indeed been taught how to job search but only so much (and maybe very little) got through?
Could it be that educators today are thinking ahead and doing all they can in a tight curriculum to prepare young people for the world that awaits them? And those that are going to drop out because they want a job now, not another year of school to graduate; would any amount of talking convince them to stick around?
Maybe this is part of natural selection. Some pick up survival skills and succeed, some don’t but learn and succeed later, some don’t get it ever and don’t. They teach that in schools.
Maybe after all, they do teach job searching in school, and as a student it’s your responsibility not just to be in class, but to BE PRESENT. Hmmm…