Preparing our students for future careers

Brisbane Catholic Education
BCE Acting Executive Director Dr Doug Ashleigh and Mitchell Institute Director Megan O'Connell at the launch of Shaping Our Students' Future that will offer vocational learning to all our Years 7-12 students

ALL Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) Years 7-12 students will have access to quality vocational learning to prepare them for current and future work and study as part of an overhaul of careers education.

The changes come after considerable consultation found careers education began too late in secondary schools, varied in quantity and quality and did not provide enough meaningful work experience.

More than 150 principals and senior leaders from across Brisbane Archdiocese attended the launch of BCE's Vocational Learning Position and Guiding Principles at a Senior Leaders Forum.

Titled “Shaping Our Students' Future", the Vocational Learning Position and Guiding Principles evolved as an opportunity to respond to the changing nature of senior schooling in Queensland and in response to key reforms in educating young people to manage and navigate the future of work.  

In her keynote address, guest speaker Megan O'Connell, Director of the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University and one of Australia's leading education policy experts, spoke about how BCE schools had the chance to lead the way in preparing young people for the future.

Ms O'Connell said too many students were not finishing school and there were huge costs associated, with many of them remaining disengaged from the workforce for most of their lives.

She said the institute's Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education revealed that for 2014's national cohort of 37,700 early school leavers the lifetime financial cost to the government and taxpayer was $12.6 billion.

Costs to the community, such as the social consequences of crime and lost earnings, amounted to another $23.2 billion.

Tracking of 25-44-year-olds from 2001-2014 revealed almost all those who left school without Year 12 or equivalent, and who were still without qualifications by the age of 24, remained so for the rest of their lives.

For men, the figure was a staggering 90 per cent and women were not doing much better, at 82 per cent.

Ms O'Connell said there was an opportunity for BCE to overhaul vocational learning at the same time as embarking on a new curriculum.

She said early career exposure and development of capabilities and workplace learning were key to students' successful transition from school to work.

Dr Paul Thornton, BCE Director of School Services North, said it was an exciting time for BCE to lead the change in vocational learning practices to help secondary students explore the world of work, identify career options and pathways and build career development skills.

“Shaping Our Students' Future provides guiding principles to influence generations of young learners and create a point of difference in our Career Education and Vocational Learning programs," he said.

“We are committed to supporting schools to make deep implementation a priority particularly at a time when technology and globalisation are changing our economy and the jobs market at an unprecedented rate."

Dr Thornton said considerable consultation had been sought with various stakeholder groups across BCE's 34 secondary and P-12 schools in the research and development phase of the project.

He said the vision was to deliver clarity around vocational learning and draw upon evidence-based research, best practice and outcomes for students.

“At the heart of BCE lies the mission to teach, challenge and transform students' lives so our students are empowered to transition to further study and employment outcomes that will shape and enrich the changing world narrative.

“We must shift the mindset and the rhetoric away from a linear pathway or single career outcome for students, to educating young people to 'carry the bag'.

“They must develop a portfolio of skills, knowledge and attitudes that will expand and deepen over time and become highly portable across many roles, career clusters and industry sectors."

Dr Thornton said “Shaping our Students Future" was a shared responsibility for BCE, schools, families, industry, training providers and higher education institutions, to empower young people to be confident, capable learners.

He said students were at the centre of BCE's mission to “Teach, Challenge and Transform" and the strengthening of capabilities of students started with quality teaching and learning.

“What matters most is that we improve the trajectory for each student within the Brisbane Catholic Education system so that they are prepared for the economy of the future, so that they can become job creators, not just job seekers and navigate more complex careers." 

“Vocational learning is about walking with our students, to equip them with a portfolio of knowledge, skills and abilities to help them make more informed decisions related to study, work and further education choice.

“Evidence suggests having resources and career development staff in schools focused on improving pathway conversations, tertiary pathway support for prospective students, vocational and work-related partnership opportunities, improves post schooling pathways for all students. 

“By providing a common language, that addresses students learning needs, pathway choices and best supports interests and passions in preparation for their post-secondary destination of choice."

One of BCE's priorities was the establishment of strategic partnerships with institutions that supported vocational learning for students.

An example was the relationship being established between BCE and the University of Queensland Student Employability Centre to provide access for students to a variety of vocational learning resources.​

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