What did you want to be when you grew up? Vet? Train driver? Hairdresser? I wanted to be Mr Benn.
But even at eight years old I realised that was probably going to sound a bit odd, so my reply was either doctor or ballerina, depending on who was asking and the mood I was in. If you had been able to speak to someone actually doing your dream job, would that have changed or reinforced your career choice?
With my Mr Benn aspiration dashed by reality a few years later, I had the good fortune of getting practical and insightful advice directly from Flora Martin, who had forged a very successful PR and communications career. Flora’s honest and straightforward advice had a huge positive impact on my future career and encouraged me to stay in my chosen sector.
Have you ever been asked to speak to a young person considering a career in your industry? PR and communications is a really popular career choice and, like Flora, we are asked this all the time. We are very happy to speak to young people about what it’s really like working in this supposedly “sexy” industry. I absolutely love the work we do, but “sexy” – not so much!
What strikes me, time and again, is that most of the individuals we speak to are the ones who already have great professional networks at their fingertips, thanks to family connections, rather than those from less fortunate backgrounds who perhaps don’t. According to Action for Children, one in three children in the UK grows up in poverty. Regardless of which statistics you read, there is an attainment gap; children from richer backgrounds significantly outperform those from poorer backgrounds, in terms of education and job prospects. This continues to be a massive challenge.
Because social media is a great leveller, as almost everyone these days has access to a smartphone, we’ve decided to tap into tech to reach as many young people as possible with direct careers insights. Recently we launched an online careers Q&A on Twitter (#PerceptiveCareers) via our Twitter handle @perceptivecomms, hopefully allowing young people of all backgrounds to access careers advice on sought-after roles directly from those doing these.
The aim of the Q&A is to give young people the direct opportunity to ask questions of individuals in careers that may be of interest to them. Those interested in taking part can follow the hashtag #PerceptiveCareers and tweet @perceptivecomms, which will be the channel for the Q&A during that hour.
The online careers Q&A will take place between 2pm and 3pm on the first Wednesday of each month. The first one took place on 4 October and was hosted at Trinity High School in Rutherglen, part of Clyde Gateway, Scotland’s largest regeneration area.
The first Q&A featured Marion Forbes, director with Mactaggart & Mickel Homes, who has more than two decades of experience in retail and construction, including many years in HR. Marion answered questions relating to preparing for interviews, applying for jobs and starting work.
Future Q&As will feature people doing a variety of different jobs from journalism to joinery. Thanks to the wonders of social media, we will also ask those taking part what sort of careers they would like to hear about most, so future sessions will be directed by those taking part in the Q&As.
Clyde Gateway, Scotland’s largest urban regeneration company, is supporting this initiative by helping to promote it amongst young people in its local areas including Bridgeton, Dalmarnock and Rutherglen. If you know of any young people who would benefit from taking part or even just listening to the comments, they simply need to follow #PerceptiveCareers. We can’t guarantee an audience with Mr Benn, but promise direct access to careers advice from vets, train drivers and hairdressers.
An earlier version of this appears on www.scotsman.com