National Careers Week 2021: “I learnt that any gender and any race can do any job.” 

National Careers Week saw exciting activities running with schools across the UK to help children broaden their horizons and raise aspirations for their futures.

Activities of course looked different this year, running virtually instead of face-to-face with children tuning in from their school classrooms and from their devices at home. We know the strong impact virtual sessions can have, and National Careers Week didn’t disappoint. Have a read of just some of the activities that occurred, alongside children’s feedback and comments from teachers and volunteers. 

To kick off the week on Monday 1st March, children at Castle Mead School took part in a virtual assembly where they heard from volunteer Jessica, an Experimental Archaeologist at York Experimental Archaeological Research Centre. Jessica explained what Experimental Archaeology is, what she does in her job, and showed pictures of the artefacts she had worked on. 

Jessica’s advice to the class was: “Having extra interests and things that you love to do, whether it be sport of performing or music, those things help you get the really cool jobs and side volunteering projects are so useful.” 

Webinar screen - videos of the volunteer and hosts on the left, with a slide explaining what an experimental archaeologist does.

Next up on Tuesday morning was our Primary Futures National Careers Week Showcase event, where we were joined by over 1400 participants from 42 schools across the UK! Children from Year 1 to Year 6 received a series of clues from three volunteers about their jobs, and proceeded to have a guess to see if they could work out what they did. The volunteers then talked about their roles to give some insight into their day-to-day – children heard from Kyle, a Third Officer in the Merchant Navy; Sonny, Controller of Content Services at ITV, and Teni, Founder of educational charity Teni Time. 

Feeding back, children said they learnt: 

  • “I learnt that boys and girls can do the same job.” 
  • “That you can complete your dreams but you need to work hard to get there.” 
  • All jobs are equally important.” 
  • “I learned how the TV programs get to your screen.” 
  • Teamwork is important in lots of jobs.” 
  • “Sometimes adults have problems too but they just fix the problem, but before I thought the people are so good at their jobs they never faced any problems at all.” 
  • “There are so many more jobs in the world than I thought!” 
  • “That any gender and any race can do any job.” 
  • “Diversity, equality, kindness and working hard are important.” 
  • “That even if corona virus is around then you can still have fun and help people.” 

Webinar screen with volunteer and hosts' videos on the left-hand side. Slide with "what's my line overview".

On Tuesday afternoon Years 5 and 6 at Cookham Dean Primary joined a virtual Classroom Chats activity, with children logging in from home and the classroom. We had two exciting volunteers sharing their jobs with the children – Imogen, a vet, and Laura, a talent agent for theatres in London. Imogen spoke about all the different animals she cares for and how the subjects she learnt at school help her with her job today. Laura expressed her passion for the arts sector and children learnt about interesting new jobs available in the theatre. At the end of the session, one child shared that they now know both boys and girls can be vets and vet nurses, as this is something they are passionate about pursuing in the future and they previously didn’t know it could be a possibility. 

Year 4 and 5 children at Newark Hill Primary joined a ‘What’s My Line’ assembly on Microsoft Teams and we had three exciting volunteers joining. Firstly, Anita was a Security Support Analyst at British Sugar, who is a big employer in Peterborough where the school is based. Anita explained the variety of roles within the organisation and how her role is like a body guard who protects the internal software. Many of the children had not heard about this job role before and were excited to ask questions to find out more. We also had Ellis, who is a Senior Trade Manager for the Department of International Trade. Ellis works with countries across the world selling products to farmers who work in agriculture. The children were excited to hear about how widely Ellis has travelled and why his work helps farmers to become more sustainable! Our third volunteer was Sophie, who now lives in Frankfurt and works for a large bank. She actually grew up in Peterborough and went to Newark Hill Primary, so the children were excited to hear about her career journey and she was a real role model for the children!  

One volunteer’s top advice was to remember that “everyone is excellent”, so to finish the session on a really positive note, the children typed “I am excellent” into the chat. 

Screen of a MS Teams chat with messages from pupils saying "I am excellent!"

Year 4 children at St Thomas the Martyr, who were all learning from home, were excited to participate in their assembly. Three great volunteers joined the session – Heather, Mike and Tanja. Heather, a Yoga teacher and Massage Therapistjoined from her studio and showed the various equipment she uses in her lessons. Heather’s top tip to the children was to listen to your emotions and think about different ways you can express yourself through creativity such as painting, drawing, singing, or writing. Next up was Mikea Project Engineer who talked about his career in aviation and how he has used his skills and knowledge to move into engineering. Mike’s top tip was to work hard at school, so you have lots of future options. Our third volunteer was Tanja who was an Organizational Design Specialist, meaning that she helps to create teams and look at different personality types/skills. One of the children listening was very surprised by this job and said she wanted to do this! Tanja was able to answer lots of questions and explain why team work is so important and how our different personality types come together to complement each other. 

On Thursday children from Crosshall Junior School attended two virtual ‘What’s My Line?’ assemblies via Google Classrooms. Across the sessions six brilliant volunteers took part: a People Development Manager for an Aviation company; a Pediatric Speech and Language Therapist; a student at Volkswagen; a Film Producer at ITV; an employee at British Airways; a Film Director; and a Director at the Transafe Network. This wide variety of volunteers inspired the children and there were lots of questions! 

Finally, on Friday we supported a virtual ‘Classroom Chats’ with Years 4-6 in three schools within the Starbank Academy Trust, based around the UK. The special session took place to celebrate ‘Justice Week’, so children met three excellent volunteers from the legal sector: Ellen who is a career/business coach and an author; Baljinder who is a family solicitor and has intensive experience with attending court and providing legal advice; and Farhana who is a legal manager at the Crown Prosecution Service. This range of jobs enriched the children’s knowledge of the legal sector and there was fantastic engagement with lots of questions following the volunteers’ descriptions of their jobs. 

Further recent virtual activities include: 

  • Three activities with Baines Endowed School in Blackpool with volunteers in design, engineering, emergency services, finance and purchasing. 
  • A week of events for Year 6 at Hackbridge Primary School, with speakers in various roles talking to the children throughout National Careers Week to help open their eyes to the world of work and the range of possibilities out there. 
  • A Classroom Chats session with Leen Mills School in Nottingham, where volunteers talked about their dreams and goals, how they got their jobs and barriers they faced along the way. The teacher commented, “Our two volunteers brought two separate things to our virtual session. The first volunteer Scarlett focused on her journey from school to employment and tasked the children with setting achievable ‘mini goals’ to help them track small positive change this year… Our second volunteer Sanjeev [who works in technology] took the children on a journey thinking about the pace of change over human history and ended by delving into what future jobs might look like involving robots and Artificial Intelligence. What an amazing experience for our pupils in such difficult times.”

Inspired? It doesn’t have to be National Careers Week for you to plan an exciting aspirations-raising activity. 

You can still access our pre-recorded video for KS1 and Year 3 “Budding Futures: Tackling Gender Stereotypes”, which features Construction Worker Kimberley and Floral Designer Jonathan. Log into your portal and select your preferred resource on the right-hand side. 

If you’re not yet signed up with us, you can create an account here. It’s free, you can create unlimited activities with our pool of thousands of diverse volunteers, and we provide resources and support.