Primary students get head start on career aspirations

Primary students get head start on career aspirations
Research shows that too many children narrow their career aspirations early, often due to gender and social expectations.

One new digital product addressing this issue is BEcoME – a new app, backed by Navitas and EduGrowth and targeted at students in Years 5 and 6.

BEcoME teaches primary school students the adaptive skills to explore, design and navigate their futures in an increasingly dynamic world.

Below, The Educator speaks to the app’s creator, Liv Pennie, to find out more.

TE: Can you tell us about some of the factors that led to you developing BEcoME?
We know that a one-off decision, late in high school is too little, too late to prepare students to thrive in this new world of work where technological disruption accelerates workforce casualisation, globalisation and automation faster and faster with each passing year. Careers will be survival of the most adaptable.

There’s a vast body of evidence supporting fundamental shifts to the design and delivery of careers education including the importance, and benefits, of broadening horizons in primary school before gender and social stereotypes are cemented. We designed BEcoME to make it easy for schools to get vital best practice to their students.

TE: I understand the app allows kids to "design, explore and manage their careers" while still in primary school. Can you run us through how this works?
We need to stop thinking about careers education as having a decision endpoint. Instead, we’re teaching them the adaptive skills they’ll need to navigate a lifetime of learning and constant course adjustments – design thinking for your life. Our app prompts them to explore themselves including their career thinking, influences, strengths and aspirations. They use these insights to broadly explore the world of work and how it’s changing via a very cool interactive map and then fit these two together coming up with possible futures. They choose one of these as a ‘running hypothesis’ and conduct an experiment to try it out in a choice of research, entrepreneurial or hands on skill acquisition projects.

TE: In your view, what is the greatest value of this app to school principals who are looking to create career pathways for their students?
Hands down, it’s that it creates more inspired learners. We’re helping students, no matter what their starting point, to smash through the stereotypes and create a motivating future horizon for themselves. This is proven to improve academic engagement and social behaviours short term as well as providing better long term academic and vocational outcomes. And with recent research indicating that concern about their future is a bigger worry for 10 year olds and over than their body image or bullying, parents and principals need a go to solution that can address this.

TE: Since launching in August, what kind of feedback have you received from schools and students using the app?
We’re seeing significant shifts on knowledge of options as well as optimism about their future in the world of work (scores shifting from 5/10 to 8.5/10). The main thing you can hear in the workshops is excitement, ‘I didn’t even know that was a thing!’ or when they put two ideas together to spin up something that suits them perfectly. Every school we work with comes up with additional ways to create deeper learning experiences around the app whether it’s linking it to Genius Hour, designing student-led electives or my personal favourite, the flipped career expo where adults come to find out from students about the careers of the future.

Related stories:
Why the responsibility of schools’ cybersecurity rests with principals
Is your school protected against cyberthreats?