The quiet bit between Christmas and New Year seems like a good time to reflect on the closing year (actually that’s secondary to the fact that the bit between Christmas and New Year includes my birthday, so it’s a great time to think about helping me to celebrate!)
One observation I’ve made during 2014 is that when I have stood in a number of different schools, colleges and universities, I’ve been alarmed at reluctance of students to talk to the adult volunteers who have turned up to help them discuss careers.
Bearing in mind that “communications skills” are listed as a core skill within employability, this shortcoming in “talking” (to adults) is really surprising, not least because it costs nothing to practice, and is available to all. There are absolutely no barriers to this activity, other than willing.
I’ve written elsewhere about the university event at which there were only 25 students (out of a possible 200) . Despite the fact that the room was full of employers, recruiters and advisors, there was only 12% of the year group in attendance.
As an aside, it’s worth lamenting the fact that, because the event had not been made “compulsory” only 12% of the class had bothered to turn up! Alas, the prevailing mentality that completion of the bare minimum of any course will secure a job. #missedopportunity.
There is a worrying trend that young people who will, in short order, need someone to give them a job, are not willing or able to sustain a conversation with someone who can assist in that challenge. Of course, during the year in question there have been exceptions, but in an age where many jobs are filled by word of mouth, it’s apparent that some students need to “up their game”.
The most recent encounter took place at a school amongst GCSE students. In a full day event, I was not asked one question about my company, or what I could do to help. These were not shy students. Far from it. Some of them were very confident. They just didn’t understand the importance of asking questions.
Of course, there will be those who say that talking to adults can be daunting for many teenagers. But I disagree. Getting into further education or interviewing for a job require communication skills. Any child who reaches school-leaving age and can’t or won’t talk to strangers has been let-down.
Who knows if this “wariness of adults” is due to confidence or arises as a result of the unpleasant spectre of child abuse. What is clear is that, with some basic instruction in the context and language employers use, and some willing and attitude, this fundamental skill can be nailed (by the way, and fortunately, Bizenko can help you with the context and language bit!)