While achieving the best grades is at the forefront of most sixth formers’ minds, it’s often what happens next that troubles them. They wonder where their path will lead them and how they will navigate the way. Grades alone won’t guarantee success; they need to play to their strengths and communicate in compelling way to stand out.
Teenagers tell me they are worried about their next step and how to stand out in a competitive world. Employers keep telling me their graduates often feel ill equipped for the world of work.
The truth is the world is changing at a vast rate. Whilst we can’t predict what the future will hold, we can equip students with as many skills as possible to give them the best chance of success, whatever path they take. To help them stand out in a globally competitive market; to know what they want and how to take ownership for getting there; to know how to bring the best version of themselves to the world.
We can help them by taking three crucial steps:
- Help them to discover what puts them in their element. This is not what they are good at but what strengthens them. There is a massive difference to being good at science and making a career in it – being good at a subject is not the main criteria in choosing a career – far from it. Instead they need clarity on what ‘life strengths’ they have and, where these strengths meet their passions. It is in that sweet spot that they will find their element.
- Give them the courage to go on a journey of true exploration as opposed to striving for the fake safety provided by a tick box exercise. Finding what puts you in your element can take time but it is the only way you will find the job for you. Students need to be comfortable with uncertainty, with trying many new things AND they best be alert along the way – noticing what it is they love and what they really don’t, whilst constantly adjusting as they go.
- Show them how to self-lead and then let them do it. Whilst we have the best educated generation ever, the constant cry from the businesses that employ them is about a lack of resilience, grit and ownership. If we want our young people to lead amazing lives then we need to show them how, and then, step away.
When they take these three steps there will be a shift in mindset from one of “I just need to keep doing the work put in front of me and it will all be ok” to one of “there is a life out there for me and it is my job to discover it.” When this shift happens, we will be truly supporting the next generation to live their best lives.
Elke Edwards has spent the last 20 years running one of the leading executive development businesses in Europe. Having worked with over 40% of the FTSE 100, she is now on a mission to change how we develop future leaders in schools, through The Ivy House Award. The Award brings life-changing personal and professional development, to sixth formers. This unique programme gives 16-18 year olds the opportunity to understand who they are, the life they want, and develop the skills to make it happen, starting now.