Sian, who was a secondary school teacher for six years before taking up her current role, says: “This will enable us to have that careers expert in our academies to really drive change in schools and ensure we are doing the best we possibly can for our students, supported by industry experts.”
Kirstie Mackey, Director of LifeSkills, Barclays UK, says: “We have learnt an enormous amount about the development of young people over the years both through our own recruitment and also our LifeSkills programme and we see a real gap in Continuous Professional Development for teachers around employability.
“We hear frequently from them that they need more time and support around employability and vital input from UK businesses to help them to understand how the world of work is rapidly changing. We therefore very much hope that this will be the start of strategic and long-lasting change in how careers and employability is embedded into education.”
Across all strands of the initiative, LifeSkills resources will be embedded into materials and training. Sian says this will provide support to teachers “to instil confidence in their students”. She adds: “Through being part of the programme, we want to make sure all of our teachers embrace careers education and feel involved in this journey.”
One big potential benefit is in helping schools challenge career stereotypes, according to Sian. “We are committed to broadening horizons, raising aspirations and challenging stereotypes. Gender stereotypes form between the ages of five to seven, so it’s crucial to inspire young children too and make them aware that there are so many exciting jobs out there.”
Sian’s first training session, for instance, discussed the importance of effective role models. “We don't know what the world of work will like in 2030,” she says. “But what we can do as educators is connect students with inspirational people in different jobs. Former students who have gone on to have successful careers can become local positive role models that the next generation can relate to.”
“The aim is to provide our students with the information they need and help develop key skills for employment that give them the confidence to achieve their full potential. We don’t want them to feel limited, to think ‘I can't do that because I’m a girl, or because I’m from this area of the country’.”
Reflecting on her own personal experience, Sian believes the most useful careers advice she received as a student was through the “inspirational people” she met along the way. And, she says, “there’s nothing more rewarding as a teacher than inspiring the talent of tomorrow.”