THE EDITOR, Sir:
On February 9, 2011, Jamaica's minister of education made a landmark announcement, launching career awareness programmes at all levels of the education system islandwide.
We at CHOICES Career & Education Advice at that time said, "Hip hip, hooray!" We were fully on board and, in fact, had been for nearly 15 years prior to this announcement. We continue to support this initiative 100 per cent, and also the work of those other institutions and organisations, such as HEART/NTA, which continue to work in this area.
We know that this is the way to go but our question is, with another graduating cohort of 50,000 or so students about to be cast out of the secondary system, is this new thrust having any effect on them, or is it just another political ploy to jump on to a another cause?
Do these students know any better who they are, what they should be doing, where they should be heading and how they're going to get there? Our answer is a resounding no, in most cases.
How many of these students have had the chance of doing a psychometric test to help them understand their own personal values, aptitudes, interests, personality, skills, strengths and talents? How many of them have had the opportunity of sitting down for a one-on-one session with a career counsellor to guide them to their next phase - an absolute must which we have constantly recommended?
How many of them even have the makings of a career portfolio containing a résumé, a cover letter and other information to help them in their future?
These are some of things for which we have been advocating since beginning our work in this area. We believe, with great certainty, that our youth are being left to find out too much for themselves and not being given the tools required to guide them.
We outline again our beliefs that:
Career education must be naturally infused into the curriculum at all levels of the system.
Every student must do a self-assessment or psychometric test such as The Career Key at some time during their secondary schooling, and definitely before choosing the subjects which they will sit at CSEC level.
Secondary schooling should end with every student owning a career portfolio, having stated their intention, somewhere, to someone, as to what they intend to do next and with every student writing an application letter to a potential employer; filling out a university, college or training programme application.
Every single student must receive one-on-one career counselling before leaving secondary level.
Career counsellors must be an integral part of the educational landscape.