Listen: Careers coach Nicolene White chats to Clare Chate about how school leavers can get out of the post-school rut.
As January turns to February and holiday season ends, the “Class of 2015” – those young people who’ve just finished Year 12 – are spreading their wings.
Thousands of school-leavers Australia wide are taking up jobs, apprenticeships, college courses or university degrees, while some set off on backpacking gap-years.
But there’s also, invariably, that forgotten subset of young people who start to feel “left behind” at this time of year. They are the guys and girls who dutifully finished their HSC, because that’s what everyone does—and then stopped.
Some are low-achievers with no a UAI and little ambition; some are average in the academic stakes; some are even brilliant, high achievers who feel paralysed by choice.
They’re hanging out at the beach and the shopping mall. They’re lying on their bed scrolling Facebook or re-reading their favourite trilogy. They’re sitting on the couch playing Playstation games, while Mum frets about their future and Dad nags them to “get a job”.
They are among the nation’s 12% of unemployed youth, feeling “stuck”, with no idea what to do next now that their life isn’t structured by school.
Why A Part-Time Job Is So Helpful
In an interview with Hope 103.2, careers counsellor Nicolene White offered some timely advice for these young people.
She said that finding part-time work of any kind is crucial for school-leavers, even if they’re not sure what they’d like to do in the long term.
“If they’re not currently in the workforce doing part-time work, because maybe their parents said to them “it’s important that you study and we don’t want you to take time out to be working”, I would be suggesting, absolutely, go out there and get themselves a part-time job,” she said.
“That’s really important. They’re going to be building up skills, social skills, and learning employability skills.
“If they already have something that’s fantastic, maybe increase their hours. Because if they’re going to be at home and they haven’t got a focus, it’s not going to be good for their health or how they’re feeling mentally.”
Do Some Research, Hit The Road And Meet People
Nicolene’s second recommendation is “research, research, research”.
“I can’t say that enough,” she said. “There is so much information online if they just Google a particular field of work, or a university, or a private college.”
“Have that as a task. Let them be their own marketing person, going out there and looking at their options, finding part time work, going to private colleges.
“Getting themselves interviewed is a really positive thing because it’s building confidence.”
She said that looking at job advertisements on websites like Seek and CareerOne, can help draw out a young person’s interests.
“If they look up actual job descriptions, from that, something might jump out at them,” she said. “Then look into what course relates to that.”
Take A Personality Test Online
Nicolene also urged those who aren’t sure what direction to take, to do some self-exploration and find out what makes them ‘tick’.
“Do a personality quiz,” she said. “That’s a really good way to have a bit of understanding about self.
“They may have done that at school, but even if they have, it could’ve been a while ago and things would’ve changed. I’d be suggesting a personality test which will also show them possible career paths that they may be suited to.
“It can be very motivating and build their confidence.”
Nicolene recommends the “Keirsey Temperament Sorter” website, which looks at temperaments, careers, interests, personality types, and also has links to the Myer-Briggs personality type tests.
See A Career Coach Or A Counsellor
For those young people really stuck in a rut with overwhelming thoughts of failure, lack of direction or lack of purpose, it may be time to see a professional.
Pyschologists can help identify and tackle the areas of thinking that are holding you back, while career counsellors can provide invaluable help for people of any age to sort out direction and goals.
Using tests of personality type, interests, strengths, skills and abilities, career coaches can help you discover what areas of work you are suited to.
Organisations like the Career Development Association of Australia contain registers of career coaches listed by area and expertise.