Careers advice for children

An interesting story that has emerged over the past few days is that children as young as seven will be offered careers advice as part of a new scheme being trialled in 7 local authority areas across the UK.

The plan, launched by Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is part of a £10 million scheme to revolutionise careers advice given to children in schools and will also include the use of social networking sites to provide information.

Currently careers advice is offered to pupils around 14 years of age, but research has shown that by the age of 7, many children have very high career aspirations that need to be captured and nutured. Parents too should be encouraged to think about sending their children to university – especially those families who have never had a child attend university before and who consider it may be out of their means.

The scheme will provide career based learning, out-reach work with UK universities and involvement from local companies to give children a view of the world of work.

However, in other parts of the world this careers based learning has gone one step further.

The KidZania concept aims to use role playing to teach children about careers from an early age. Usually attached to shopping malls, KidZania is a large entertainments and education centre that looks like a child sized replica of a city. With buildings, streets, shops, vehicles and pedestrians, and numerous industries represented, children between the ages of 2 and 14 have the chance to sample over 75 different professions.  The “city” has its own currency, the KidZo, that children can earn, spend or invest in their “savings account” to learn about the value of money.

This concept, a Mexican based company with sites also in Japan, Dubai and Portugal, also ties in with commercial investment. Companies have scaled down replicas of their own industries (great advertising to parents!) and that enables the professions and equipment to be realistic.

The KidZania sites are proving to be massively popular with both parents and children as they present life in the outside world but in a fun, educational and inspiring way.

Maybe it’s about time we had a KidZania set up here in the UK to work in addition with Mr Balls’ new scheme?

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