When I started Marketing Advice for Schools six years ago, I was teaching almost full-time. I’ve gradually been reducing my teaching days and from September I will make the ‘big leap’ and (almost) stop teaching. I’ll spend 2 days per week at the school I've been working at for 11 years offering career advice and arranging career-related events and 3 days supporting and training schools at Marketing Advice for Schools.
I’m excited about this because the need for careers education is growing. It’s also more and more closely linked to marketing and external communications and needs a similar skill set.
The first reason for this is that careers education has a higher profile in schools. A new set of statutory guidance for English state-funded schools and colleges was issued in January 2023 (you can download it here). Among other changes, this put into law the requirement for state schools to provide more ‘employer encounters’, reflecting how the careers market is changing, in part due to the increasing number and types of apprenticeships on offer.
The second reason is that technology is also transforming how students can prepare for jobs – from virtual work experience to MOOCs (massive open online courses) which allow students to learn from top global universities among others at any age! These first two reasons increase the need for effective communication to parents and students.
And finally careers education is more and more recognised as a great way to connect a school with key stakeholders. These may be parents, former students or local business (and of course these categories will overlap) who can offer advice and help in return for publicity and the opportunity to recruit students at a time of increasing skills shortage.
So, what can schools do to use careers education in marketing? Here are four ideas I’ll be working on alongside offering personal advice (other ideas welcome)!
1. Making careers a key part of how the school is marketed. Parents and students choosing a school will ask more questions in future years about employer encounters, apprenticeships, the ‘supercurriculum’ that universities are asking for and much more – how can you pre-empt these though the stories you tell about your school?
2. Using careers as a way to talk to stakeholders. I can say from experience that it’s a lot easier to engage former students by talking about their careers and how they follow on from their schooldays than asking for money for a school development project straight up!
3. Planning ‘hero’ events around careers. There are few better ways to get a wide range of stakeholders into your school and talking to each other than to run a careers fair. And with modern technology you can make links virtually and bring the whole world to your school.
4. Using a School Media Team to help. Access to information about careers is important, but it can be difficult and time consuming to give every student equal opportunity to visit employers that they are interested in. One solution is for your School Media Team to do the visits and create videos to show back at school – here’s one that did it already!