When discussing the topic of career-related learning with young children, many show concern that there is the risk of making our children grow up too fast. Although such concerns are understandable, through different activities, children can engage in career-related learning which will help them to focus on a future which they can aspire to.

Children need to be knowledgeable about the world of work and develop the necessary career related skills as early as possible. This does not mean that children are to be directed towards a particular career or job, but instead they are to be helped to broaden horizons and raise aspirations, giving them a wide range of experiences related to the world of work.

McMahon & Watson (2017) assert that career development is a maturation process that begins very early in life. It involves developing the skills and knowledge that not only equip children for the next stage of their lives, but also enable them to plan and make informed decisions about education, training and career choices (McMahon, Patton & Tatham, 2002).

Therefore, career related learning shows children the vast range of possibilities open to them and encourages them to keep their options open. In addition, there are also a range of attributes, skills, and behaviours that can be stimulated at this early stage, which will in turn support the children as they begin their transition to secondary education and future life.

Therefore, although a future career seems, and indeed is, a long way off for most primary-age children, exposing them to more real examples in a way that is exciting, age appropriate, yet still part of everyday life, can help transform the way children view certain professions and roles (Mann and Dawkins, 2014).

Some examples of ways of introducing career related learning at an early age include: developing knowledge about work, learning and exploring different careers and learning pathways and sectors. Another very important aspect of career related learning includes developing skills for work and life. The development of different soft skills such as enterprise skills and social-emotional skills will benefit the child’s own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.

Mann, A. & Dawkins, J. (2014) Employer Engagement in Education: Literature review, Reading: CfBT Education Trust.

McMahon, M., & Watson, M. (2017) ‘Telling Stories of Childhood Career Development’, in McMahon, M., & Watson, M. (eds) Career Exploration and Development in Childhood: Perspectives from theory, practice and research, 1-8, Abingdon: Routledge.

McMahon, M., Patton, W., & Tatham, P. (2002) Managing Life, Learning and Work in the 21st Century, Australian Blueprint for Career Development, Subiaco: Miles Morgan Australia.

Ann Julene Hili is a Career Guidance Practitioner with Willingness. She specializes in working with teens and young adults who are in their educational and career transitions. She can be contacted on annjulene@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.