Career Guidance: Helping Students Choose Their Future

According to a research by specialists from the Higher School of Economics, each third university graduate in Russia doesn't work in his field. Experts stress the necessity of solving this problem, starting with one's school years - as it is during high school that one has to make a most important decision - choose a university and his future profession. So, can one help students make this choice in due time, and how does one make a system for career guidance at schools? Filip Kazin, Dean of ITMO's Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, and Anastasia Prichislenko, head of the Rhythm Personal Development Center, commented on this problem in an interview to our portal.

Eight years ago, less than half of the graduates worked in their fields - according to the Higher School of Economics, it was only 49.6%. Five years later, the situation improved, though only slightly: in 2014, it was 53.3%.

In February 2017, Professor Elena Varshavskaya from the Higher School of Economics published a new research about where and in what fields Russian highly qualified specialists work. According to this research, the percentage of those who do not knowledge gained during their university years in their work has decreased considerably, yet, they still amount to about one third.

Specialists believe that the solution to the problem is in working with highschoolers by introducing career guidance programs in school. In 2015, this initiative was discussed at the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Apart from career guidance programs, creating career guidance camps where school students can spend their vacations was also proposed. All of that was to help a highschooler decide on his future career and thus not waste his next four years on the wrong education.

Session at the Zerkalny Camp

Career Guidance in St. Petersburg. What's already done?

As Anastasia Prichislenko, head of the Rhythm Personal Development Center, notes, even though there are still no classes on career guidance at schools, there are many extracurricular programs. In high schools and lyceums, career guidance is done by psychologists, counselors, homeroom or Social Studies teachers. There are also schools that have several specialists for this task. For example, St. Petersburg's Academic gymnasium # 56 even has a career guidance office.

As for career guidance projects, each school has their own. Among the best practices are such projects as the JobSlam by Saint Petersburg Lyceum # 30. Its goal is to give highschoolers an opportunity to communicate with the school's graduates who already decided on their careers: the graduates make short presentations based on their personal experience and share about choosing a profession and studying at this or that university.  

The same lyceum also conducts practical training sessions for tenth graders - for three weeks, they get the opportunity to do project work at a university. In school # 191, students created their own travel agency as part of their career guidance program, and even went to Crimea together.

Session at the Zerkalny Camp

What has to be done?

Despite all these successful practices, we still can't talk about a career guidance system, notes Filip Kazin. The situation can be solved by promoting more effective cooperation between schools and universities, as well as training teachers in new methods and approaches and conducting new projects. ITMO University has been conducting such collaboration since February, 2016.

"We believe that a systemic approach should be used for career guidance in schools. o introduce that all over St. Petersburg, we need a system for further training of teachers, that will train them to teach career guidance as a subject and work with highschoolers as part of extracurricular activities. Now, we not only speak about our Life Navigation course, but bring up this discussion to teachers and school administrations so that they would know where, how and by which means can one work on the subject of career guidance and thus improve career guidance programs in schools. I must add that the demand in this field is quite high, as schoolers, teachers, parents and even company heads are greatly interested in it. We already have a schedule for working with school principals in the Nevsky district. Soon, we will begin to work in Frunzenski as well. And its most important that St. Petersburg's best schools already work with us," comments Filip Kazin.

Foresight and projects as opposed to boring lectures

Specialists from the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations have already conducted several open lectures, one as part of St. Petersburg International Educational Forum.  

Open Lecture at the St. Petersburg International Educational Forum

As of now, they also take part in organizing a special foresight session for children from the Zerkalny camp in collaboration with St. Petersburg's Education Council. As part of this Technostart special session, 300 school students from the best educational institutions of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region will learn what foresight technologies are, how can one use them in real life, complete a quest on life navigation and work on their own independent projects.

Among the other projects is the “Russia's Future - High-end Technologies” conference and the All-Russian youth festival “Right Rudder!”.  Their goal is working with not just students, but with teachers as well. During their open lectures, specialists from ITMO University speak of the foresight technologies and share their best practices with principals of St. Petersburg’s leading schools.

According to Anastasia Prichislenko, these events are quite different from common lectures. Their main features are being practice-oriented and using game solutions.

"If we are talking about the session at Zerkalny camp, there we will use many different formats - tests, games, discussions, brainstorming. There won't be any boring long lectures that school students hate, shares the expert. Generally, when working with both students and teachers, we use different interactive formats. For example, we'll be conducting the Games in Education project in April, where we will teach school teachers and university lecturers work with game methods. The Life Navigation is also a totally interactive project. On one side, it gives vast psychological knowledge, on the other, it’s practice-oriented."

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