Recently we ran a 2-day programme at a school for 150 year 10 students called Life & Work Ready programme, as part of EnSpire Success Schools Program
It was a programme designed to get 14-15 year olds ready for the world of work or further education.
The event was called ‘enrichment’ by the school, which on one level is great, we should be enriching the lives of our young people. I was also left wondering about the role of the school in enriching the children’s lives every day, but that’s another story.
The first day was spent preparing them for mock interviews with real business owners,.
The second day of the program all 150 students participated in the mock interview programme, and gained valuable experience of what employers really look for.
Yet the challenge when you go into a school to ‘enrich’ students, especially when you don’t work there every day - is not be tempted to contradict what the schools says.
At best this can undermine the teachers, which have a hard enough job as it is and at worst, give a mixed message to the students as to what is important.
We know, whether you are business owner or employed that a great attitude and a good work ethic are more important than skills and/or qualifications.
However, I am NOT saying that having skills and qualifications are not very important.
One of the criticisms of the school system, is that there is too much emphasis on qualifications and not enough on core life skills. We know that having a good education is important, but no one can convince me that having qualifications are more important, than possessing a great attitude, a good work ethic and a positive outlook on life.
It was fascinating working with the 150 15-year old boys during the event. You can imagine, on a hot summer day stuck in a hall they can be quite restless.
The first thing we talked about was the 3 things that WILL affect their life and the 3 things that will give them an advantage.
The 3 things I told them that WILL affect their life are
Your Thoughts & Feelings
…and the 3 things that will give them an advantage are
Your Work Ethic
All this was in preparation for the mock interviews the next day, but it was more than that.
These were some of the assumptions the students were making about the interviews and what business owners look for…
It’s like The Apprentice TV show and you get bombarded with
You have to focus on your qualifications
You cannot ask any questions of the business owner
They will judge you straight away and not give you a chance
It’s a one way process
They don’t really care about what you really love doing outside
They think its all about money
You have no value and they hold all the cards
They ask questions to catch you out
They want you to fail
One of the exercises we did with he boys was identifying their transferable skills. We did this by listing a number of things at the age of 15 they would probably have done, for example…
Been on time for school
Babysat for a day or evening?
Got better at a sport?
Helped someone with homework?
Finished a task within a set time?
Volunteered to help out at an event?
There were about 40 items, then we asked them what skills they may have needed to perform these tasks like...
Ability to work with little or no supervision
This shows them that there are many skills that employers look out for that they already possess and more importantly they could prove they had them with the tasks they had already done.
The kids got it.
They also understood how their attitude to this task allowed them to see this, and the important this had in making a good impression.
You could see their faces changed when they had tangible things they could talk to the business guests about.
When DAY 2 arrived, it was magical, the business guests were all enthused by the attitude and commitment of the students, the students loved the interviews.
For the first time in their lives the students had the experience of somebody who they don’t know, who they see as a model citizen, giving them the time of day, respecting their viewpoint and actually listening to what they had to see.
When each boy got up from the interview you could see a beaming smile on their faces,.
They presumed that it was going to be a grilling by the interviewers but they started to realize that us ADULTS do want them to do well and reach their potential.
This was also evident when we got the feedback from the teachers and the boys themselves after the event.
The kids do get it, the teachers get it and the business owners get it.
They get that we all want to see each other do well, they get that the world is in good hands and they get that if you give someone a chance anything is possible.