Feathers Blog: Exploring Careers

The latest edition of The Feathers Blog is written by our wonderful HR Manager Louisa who offers a unique insight into the importance of career advice whilst exploring how The Feathers Association champions teaching and learning throughout our work. 

When I was in my teens and thinking about my options, the careers advice, in hindsight, was woefully inadequate.  The Skills Commission 2021 report: Transition to Ambition: Navigating the careers maze, suggests that things have not improved despite it being a critical tool for driving the economy.  Young people are expected to make major life decisions at such a young age and the reality of the situation is that the job or career they are likely to end up in, doesn’t even exist yet.  I was fortunate to grow up in a relatively privileged position.  My parents were educated and had the means to both help and encourage me to go to university, but even they couldn’t guide me through what career options I had.

Life has led me to a career in Human Resources – absolutely not something I envisaged as a teenager!  However, it seems my skills and nature fit the bill.  A few years on after joining the workforce I was fortunate to undertake psychometric profiling which helped me to understand my behaviours, strengths and what value I can bring to a team.  It was surprisingly insightful and helped me realise how I could play to my strengths and achieve my potential.  It certainly helped me understand why a career in HR would make sense for me.  Would this have been helpful early on?  Perhaps, perhaps not – would I have been mature enough or had the necessary life experience to get the same insights?  I suppose everyone goes on a journey and things happen at different times for us all!

What I like about HR is the variety of work that I do.  I use my numerical skills in payroll and benchmarking data we collect about the workforce, salaries and benefits.  I use my research and communication skills writing policies and proposals.  My legal knowledge, influence and persuasion skills to advise and guide colleagues through complex situations.  And my mentoring skills to educate and support both the organisation as a whole and individuals to develop and reflect on matters such as best practice, culture and ethics.  There is a lot of routine and administration involved in the profession, but there is also the opportunity for innovation and you have to be ready for the unexpected – I think I am good at my job because I don’t get flustered by this and can stay calm in a crisis and dive straight into problem solving or managing a situation to achieve the best possible outcome.

At the Feathers Association, informal education and teaching life skills are at the heart of our work.  We offer a space for our members to seek support and guidance and when it comes to work and careers.  We offer a listening ear and some practical support to help a Young Person achieve their goals – whether that be their first Saturday job, or an application to a course or permanent employment.  Digital poverty is considered a barrier to accessing careers advice, training and guidance.  We have recently partnered with NoodleNow, an online training provider who has given us access to their courses which include food and hygiene, customer service, retail and hospitality, health and safety, and safeguarding and childcare.  If a member can add one of these certificates onto their CV, it could give them the advantage when applying for their first job.  Some of these are key skills everyone needs in the workplace which are not part of the National Curriculum.  We can offer support in writing applications, CVs, or being a character reference.  We run a traineeship programme that employs and develops young people to support the work of our Youth Workers by assisting them in the delivery of our activities.  This could simply be the first time they undertake any work experience and they gain knowledge and skills to take to their next job.  It could potentially lead them into a career in Youth or Social work.

We at the Feathers Association believe it is our job to educate our members in the choices they have and we must work with our partners to offer opportunities to learn about existing and new careers, find work experience opportunities and inspire them to make and pursue their dreams.  The Gatsby Foundation states:

“Good career guidance is a necessity for social mobility: those young people without significant social capital or home support to draw upon have the most to gain from high-quality career guidance.”

I have recently committed to volunteering my time at our Youth & Community Club, to support the needs of our members through activities such as CV writing, careers insight and interview preparation. I am very much looking forward to supporting this in the near future, getting to know some of our members much more closely and helping out where I can. In the meantime, my email address is below and should you need any advice, I’d be delighted to arrange a time to chat! [email protected]

This Blog was written by Louisa Gartrell, Feathers Association HR Manager. 




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