In today’s global economy ensuring that young people are aware of the wide range of career paths open to them is more important than ever before.
That was the message from Education Minister, John O’Dowd, as he addressed the annual conference of the NI Schools and Colleges Careers Association (NISCA) today. NISCA is a voluntary organisation that brings together teaching professionals involved in the educational, vocational and personal guidance of young people across the north.
Addressing members at the conference in Castlereagh the Minister said:
“Careers teachers and advisers have a vital role to play in helping our young people make important decisions about their futures. They provide them with invaluable help, guidance and support and I want to put on record my appreciation for the work they do.
“The Programme for Government makes clear that growing the economy remains a top priority for the Executive. It also recognises that a well-educated and a highly skilled workforce will be crucial to achieving this goal.
“The global economy is changing. In the future our competitors are just as likely to come from China, India, Brazil or Russia. The options available for work are also changing. Job growth will come from different occupations and in different areas than before. Fast changing technology means there is always a need for new skills and the need to build on existing skills.
“Keeping abreast of local, national and global labour market information will remain crucial if our young people are to receive the right careers advice and guidance and access a curriculum informed by these developments.
“The study of STEM subjects, for example, is increasingly important for growing our economy and creating jobs and it is vital that young people are made aware of this when considering their options.”
The Minister went on to comment on the important role the Entitlement Framework will play in ensuring that young people have access to a wider range of courses.
He said: “In my statement to the Assembly on the 6 November, I restated my commitment that all young people should have access to a modern, relevant curriculum and to a high-quality careers service.
“And as I said I would, I have given young people the legal right to access a wider range of courses by making the Entitlement Framework a statutory requirement from September 2013. This will help equip young people with the skills and qualifications they need as it guarantees them the right to a broad and balanced curriculum and a more varied range of choices.
“The skills and knowledge young people develop to assess their career options and progression pathways in their teenage years will be useful to them throughout their life. Now more than ever, therefore, it is essential that we make it possible for our young people to make the right choices and in this we all must play our part.”