What is your lasting memory of careers education? Does it involve completing a mind-numbing questionnaire and then being told by a computer that you’re destined to become a swimming pool attendant, or a security guard? Well this is precisely the reason that two years ago my business partner and I embarked on a journey to reinvigorate careers education, making it more informative, vibrant and memorable for the right reasons.
We had noticed that even the brightest, most aspirant young people fail to have a proper understanding of the world of work by the time they begin to make key life decisions at the age of around 15 or so. Many young people demonstrated an awareness of the most visible jobs within society (teacher, doctor, police officer etc) but knew little of the vast range of career options available to them. More worryingly, many young people from deprived backgrounds have become embroiled in a culture of worklessness and not only lack awareness of the world of work, but also a desire to participate in it, as well as the education system as a whole.
So we set out to develop a resource which would offer young people a positive experience of careers education from a much earlier age. We wanted to raise the aspirations of young people, to broaden their horizons and to increase social mobility, particularly of young people from deprived backgrounds.
Introducing… Career Detectives…
After producing a couple of mock-ups out of cereal boxes in my bedroom, we trialled each version of the resource in schools to gain feedback from young people and teaching professionals. Four mock ups later (the final prototype is pictured above) and we’re now awaiting delivery of our first 500 units of Career Detectives. We’ve already lined up quite a few pre-orders as well as support from prominent figures in the business and political world, including the Minister for Access to Education, Simon Hughes MP.
Career Detectives supports teachers in delivering career related learning. The resource develops understanding of the links between careers and education, encouraging early vocational thinking to support development of the necessary skills to succeed. Also integrates Maths, English and Science curriculum, Key Skills development, Healthy Eating and Citizenship.
In relation to my life goal to ‘patent an invention’, we have UK Patent Application No. 1111722.3 pending. The technical bit – although it’s difficult to patent an educational resource or board game (because it is essentially just the presentation of information) our attorney is confident that a patent will be granted based on some of the innovative features of the product in connection to a careers theme.
Overall it’s been a fascinating process to invent, design and manufacture a product. With hindsight, I’m sure we could have completed the process in a fraction of the time but, despite frustrations and setbacks galore, it’s been highly rewarding and we’re immensely proud of the final product. Now let’s hope our hard work pays off and we can turn Big Green Fox into a sustainable business. Will this be my only invention? I hope not, and we already have further products in development…
If you’re interesting in finding out more about Careers Detectives or following our progress, see our website here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.