'I Choose' career fair will help students select a path to success

Paul Cocks spoke to Dorianne Gravina, College Career Advisor within the Education Ministry’s Directorate for Educational Services on the importance of career fairs and how they can help students

Paul Cocks
6 July 2017, 7:30am
Over 1,000 students are expected to visit the fair in Malta and Gozo
Over 1,000 students are expected to visit the fair in Malta and Gozo
How important is a career fair like I Choose for young students?

The ‘I Choose’ organised by the Ministry for Education and Employment is an excellent opportunity for all Year 10 and Year 11 students to obtain all the necessary information to plan their career path and learn more about courses available after Year 11. It follows a series of initiatives and programmes held during compulsory schooling for both students and parents. The fair also targets students attending post-secondary education and others who wish to know more about different educational paths in Malta and Gozo. The event will be held on 7 July between 4pm – 8pm and on 8 July 2017 between 9am – 5pm at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, Valletta.

How many people are expected to visit the fair?

Over 1,000 students are expected to visit the fair in Malta and Gozo. 

How many participants will be taking part? What sectors do they represent?

Post-Secondary Institutions and other entities will set up stands, provide information about the courses they offer, and offer support to students who are deciding on which career path to embark. 

Career Guidance Practitioners will be available for one-to-one career guidance sessions with students and parents to discuss educational and employment path concerns.  

Ongoing Information Talks will be delivered during the two-day event in Malta. Talks will be given by speakers coming from different employment sectors including tourism, finance, healthcare, construction, sports, creative arts, armed forces, police, manufacturing, transport, maritime, languages, agribusiness, care, sciences, entrepreneurship and voluntary sector amongst others. Students and their parents will be invited to attend those talks which interest them.  Students can call on 9991 4356 to book an appointment with the guidance team or to attend one of the talks. The event Facebook page is: edu.gov.mt/ichoose.

Games and activities related to Career Guidance will be organised throughout the event.  

Nowadays it is more appropriate to talk about choosing one’s career path rather than a career as the notion of a ‘job for life’ is becoming less common
Nowadays it is more appropriate to talk about choosing one’s career path rather than a career as the notion of a ‘job for life’ is becoming less common
Are students given career guidance in schools?

Within the State Colleges, career guidance is provided to all students with the aim of providing necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to make well-informed decisions for successful transitions from school to further education and/or work and hence, to manage their career pathways and lifelong learning. Such initiatives target both students and their parents/guardians during primary and secondary and include transition programmes, subject options exercises, career orientation visits, one week career exposure experiences, one-to-one career guidance sessions besides initiatives targeting employability skills such as teamwork, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.  Complementing these activities are career education lessons within Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD) where the focus is on career management skills to succeed in the labour market.

Do you find that secondary school students are clear on what career they wish to pursue?

Deciding what to do after compulsory schooling is a task young people grapple with at a time when they experience physical, emotional and developmental changes. Some feel prepared, others may need more support, whilst others delay the decision. It is important that students and parents/guardians understand that career path choice at 16 is only the start of their career trajectory. Not being clear about what precisely one wants to do at this age is normal; it will become clearer as one goes through work experiences, part-time jobs and educational pathways.

What, in your experience, influences a student’s choice of career?

A number of factors influence the choice a student makes, including personal factors such as self-esteem, and gender and social factors such as peers, family and social media. These factors are topics discussed in PSCD lessons, career guidance sessions and activities whereby students are provided with opportunities to approach such factors with a critical mind-set.

Are students today restricted in their choice of career by their upbringing?

Maltese and Gozitan families still play an influential role in their children’s upbringing. However, I would not say that students are being restricted. Parents/guardians are well aware of the importance of encouraging their children to continue studying after Year 11 due to the competitive labour market. There are extreme cases of financial and health issues in the family and children feel responsible for contributing to the family’s wellbeing.

Is career choice an important decision for students? Or is it more of a natural progression of their secondary school studies?

Nowadays it is more appropriate to talk about choosing one’s career path rather than a career as the notion of a ‘job for life’ is becoming less common. The answer to this question is yes – choosing one’s career path is an important decision to be based on an understanding of their interests and abilities, correct information about courses available, and awareness of opportunities in the labour market. With the right support from school and family, this decision becomes a natural progression – one more step the student has to take throughout his/her life.

Which careers/sectors are currently more popular among school-leaving students? 

Students leave compulsory schooling at an age when career choices are still unclear.  Generally students tend to opt for careers they are exposed to in their family and community. However, school career guidance initiatives such as orientation visits, one-week workplace exposure, and career talks and fairs increase interest in unfamiliar careers. 

What are the criteria upon which students base their career choice?

Gaining a clear understanding of the range of interests, both at school or in extracurricular activities, allows students to target career areas that suit them. It serves as a road map. Once students know their interests, they can begin to observe other variables including their values, skills, qualities, strengths and other attributes and then look towards post-secondary courses and/or employment opportunities that suit their interests and abilities. In this context schools, employers and parents have a very important role in supporting the student.  

Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...