Historically, colleges have provided careers information as part of a wraparound of support services. Industry insight and applied learning, led by vocationally experienced lecturers, is a strength of the sector.

And in dealing with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our communities, often discussions are had with an advisor within our support services if a student is ‘undecided’ or thinking about their next steps.

But the world has changed and rather than preparing students of all ages for a sector specific career, we need to prepare our students for a future of many jobs, enabling them to be regularly developing new skills and be resilient to constant change.

To help people weave their way through the various roles they will have in contributing to our society and economy, we need to develop the skills that are  essential for our current and future workforce to be successful.  

"Skills that help people manage their careers and become successful in work are the key to preparing the current and future workforce for a world where continuous learning is the norm."

Angela Cox, Principal of Borders College

We also need to empower people with the knowledge and skills to navigate an international jobs market. Globally, there is a recognised shortage of talent and, with advances in technology, many roles now have a global audience but can be accessed locally. Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have just accelerated this.

This learning needs to be embedded into core learning activities and curriculum design. Skills that help people manage their careers and become successful in work are the key to preparing the current and future workforce for a world where continuous learning is the norm. 

In an increasingly complex education and skills system, where people have many choices of how and when they learn, it is now time to revisit Scotland’s approach to developing career management skills and for colleges to play a more significant role in this - especially in light of the changing world of work highlighted above. 

This learning needs to be embedded into core learning activities and curriculum design. Skills that help people manage their careers and become successful in work are the key to preparing the current and future workforce for a world where continuous learning is the norm. 

In an increasingly complex education and skills system, where people have many choices of how and when they learn, it is now time to revisit Scotland’s approach to developing career management skills and for colleges to play a more significant role in this - especially in light of the changing world of work highlighted above. 

To help people weave their way through the various roles they will have in contributing to our society and economy, we need to develop the skills that are  essential for our current and future workforce to be successful.  

We also need to empower people with the knowledge and skills to navigate an international jobs market. Globally, there is a recognised shortage of talent and, with advances in technology, many roles now have a global audience but can be accessed locally. Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have just accelerated this.

This learning needs to be embedded into core learning activities and curriculum design. Skills that help people manage their careers and become successful in work are the key to preparing the current and future workforce for a world where continuous learning is the norm. 

In an increasingly complex education and skills system, where people have many choices of how and when they learn, it is now time to revisit Scotland’s approach to developing career management skills and for colleges to play a more significant role in this - especially in light of the changing world of work highlighted above. 

Colleges support around 240,000 people to develop the skills required to contribute to our society and economy.

15% of those people are under 16 years old, with 41% aged 16-24 and one in five of Scotland’s 18–19-year-olds entering college on a full-time basis. Colleges deliver around a quarter all higher education in Scotland, with 40% of college leavers moving on to university.

And yet, as a sector, the career services available in colleges is inconsistent and not reflective of the investment and focus on schools or universities. This leads to an inequality of opportunity, and even more so when 38% of school leavers enrol at college from areas of the highest socio-economic deprivation. 

Colleges do work in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, but currently career development is not embedded consistently into the curriculum or viewed as an entitlement. This is due to several factors: the role of career professionals in colleges has been eroded over the years as levels of funding have reduced; Skills Development Scotland is seen as the provider of career advice; and Scotland currently has a qualification system that focuses on technical competences rather than those broader meta-skills which includes the development of career management skills.   

As we emerge from this economic crisis and transition to a green and wellbeing economy, it is essential that colleges – as an integrated part of a wider and cohesive careers support ecosystem - are empowered to provide the career skills required for Scotland’s current and future workforce and that everyone, irrespective of an individual’s chosen learning path, has the equality of opportunity that will ensure a successful future career.