Career guidance and support should be integrated into the curricula from the earliest stages of education. Research suggests that students who have a career plan are more likely to remain in school and engage more with their education. It may be developed separately or embedded in the curriculum, for example, within the context of several different subjects. Effective approaches tend to combine a wide range of curricular and extracurricular activities. These may include work experience programmes, job shadowing, career games, or taster courses that can support in both mainstream and alternative education (such as work-based vocational education and training).
Teachers have an important role to play in encouraging learners to pursue their interests, and to acquire skills and competences relevant to their career aspirations. Effective career education will also need to engage a range of stakeholders (school counsellors, parents and employers).
A 2016 study on alternative learning pathways by the Reducing Early School Leaving in Europe (RESL.eu) Research Project showed that work-based learning approaches compensate for the lack of practical learning in general school-based education and can prevent early school leaving. For many students, work-based learning may be more relevant because of the practical and often more mature learning context. Nonetheless, young people are often only reoriented towards work-based learning after a range of negative school experiences and/or academic disengagement. A strong critique of both learners and staff involved in this study was that staff – even specialised career guidance staff – do not always have good knowledge about the work-based learning options available and, therefore, may not provide correct and timely information about the dual learning options throughout students school career.
Find out more:
European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN), Early School Leaving and Lifelong Guidance, Concept Note No. 6, coordinated by University of Jyväskylä, Finland, 2015 (see http://www.elgpn.eu/publications/browse-by-language/english/elgpn-concept-note-no.-6-early-school-leaving-and-lifelong-guidance/).
European Commission, Piloting Youth Guarantee - partnerships on the ground, Case study: Helping at-risk youth to prepare and guide them into positive post-school outcomes, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2015.
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice/Cedefop,Tackling Early Leaving from Education and Training in Europe: Strategies, Policies and Measures, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2014.
Nouwen, W., Clycq, N., Braspenningx, M., and Timmerman, C., Cross-case Analyses of School-based Prevention and Intervention Measures, Project Paper 6, RESl.eu Project, Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, 2016.
Cedefop, Stronger VET for better lives: Cedefop's monitoring report on vocational education and training policies 2010-14, Cedefop Reference Series, No. 98 Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2015.
Elffers, L.,The transition to post-secondary vocational education: Students’ entrance, experiences, and attainment, Ipskamp Drukkers, Enschede, 2011
Van Praag, L., Nouwen, W., Van Caudenberg, R., Clycq, N. and Timmerman, C., Cross-case Analysis of Measures in Alternative Learning Pathways, Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, 2016.