Words for Work interview
We spoke to our careers expert and Words for Work: Dream Big project manager Alice about giving your child a prosperous future to look forward to.
1. My children are only in primary school. Why is it important to talk about future careers now?
Chatting to your child about jobs they could have when they’re grown up doesn’t mean pushing them to know what kind of career they want right now – it’s more about exposing them to the jobs that are out there and raising their aspirations.
Research shows that the way children think about jobs, including the gender stereotypes that surround them, are fixed in their minds from an early age. It’s really important that we provide our children with ideas about different jobs as soon as possible.
2. What is the best way to approach the topic of jobs?
As a parent, the best way to do this is to talk to people carrying out their jobs while you’re out and about with your child – as long as they’re not too busy! This could be a sales assistant, the plumber or a police officer for example.
You could also encourage your child’s schools and teachers to sign up to our Words for Work: Dream Big programme, which helps primary school children learn about life in the workplace by visiting a business and doing a selection of classroom activities. There’s also the Education and Employers’ Primary Futures programme, which helps children to understand the links between learning and their futures.
3. Who are some people in the public eye you think make good role models for children?
Think about your child’s favourite hobbies or subjects in school and the public figures who have made successful careers in these areas. For sports, I would suggest Ellie Simmonds, Tom Daley or Mo Farah, who have all overcome adversity to reach the top of their game.
In music there’s Sam Smith, who’s a great advocate for LGBTQ rights, and for science I would look at somebody like Katie Bouman, who was part of the pioneering team that recently captured the first image of a black hole.
4. What literacy skills does my child need to prepare for the world of work?
More than two-thirds of employers say that literacy is one of the three most important skills when hiring young people.
In Words for Work: Dream Big, we support pupils in thinking about the skills they already have. We also encourage children to read for pleasure as much as possible to grow their vocabulary and speak more confidently.
5. Why is it important to challenge the gender stereotypes associated with some job roles at this young age? What are some simple ways to do this?
We want children to know they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up and that there aren’t ‘girl jobs’ and ‘boy jobs’.
One way you can encourage this is by providing a range of role models. You don’t necessarily need to know people working these jobs – they could be from fictional stories (take a look at our book list for inspiration!), or ask your school to make sure any class displays about career aspirations are gender balanced with female construction workers and male nurses.