Where to from here?

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been considering careers policies in my institution or perhaps it’s because I’ve been trawling through a recent issue of the BES bulletin but it strikes me that there’s a considerable amount of material out there but also a few gaps. On the plus side, the amount of information for graduates is considerable. We can start with the BES’s own career guides, move on to the excellent guide from a raft of biological societies called “Next Steps” or even head over to some blogs which seem to focus on careers – early ones, if not actually getting one! In this last category, Bioscience Careers appears useful. I’m certain that their blogpage highlighting useful careers blogs is going to find a number of users but I wonder if we are not missing out somewhere.

A little while ago I was arguing for a university insight into curriculum development in schools. At first there was some inertia – fair enough, helpi9ng schools doesn’t raise research grants but a point I made did stick home. If we don’t get students into senior subjects (because the syllabus is too boring/irrelevant etc.) then it’s unlikely you will have too many undergrads in your rooms! Nothing like a bit of self-interest to sharpen the mind but thinking back on that, it strikes me there’s a lot more we should be doing. Careers are often seem as the add-on to education (remember the Monty Python line about wanting to be a brain surgeon but they were a careers advisor instead?!) but shouldn’t they be more? Should learned societies get behind this idea a little more than most seem to do?

Why don’t we take a new look at careers education? What’s wrong with “selling” science to students to attract more people? Perhaps we need to re-think this area of education a little more fully than we are doing. Currently, we are considering adapting Victoria’s model of careers education to run a programme in a high school. The key to success seems to be creating a developmental flow of ideas and skills as students move through the system. This would mean by the time they reach their final exams, they have both a Plan ‘A’ and ‘B’ to guide their choices. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring the interest in ecology careers into the school (space or even curriculum) to allow people to focus on a wider range of issues?

Of course, step one is to design your programme. I may have to return to this!

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