A window on the world of work for children and parents

Sarah Jane Thomson, founder of children’s newspaper First News, talks to Workingmums.co.uk about her new venture into the world of work – First Careers.

First Careers

Picture credit: First News interviews Manchester City photographer Victoria Haydn

A careers website which aims to give young people an engaging and informative insight into potential future careers is reaching out to parents, young people and employers.

First Careers is a free resource which aims to provide a breadth of different job profiles for primary and secondary school students. That includes online profiles and videos. Its home page, for instance, includes video interviews with a stage manager, a helicopter mission controller, a zookeeper and an ethical hacker and profiles of a pet and reptiles operations manager, a games creator and a weather presenter.

It is run by First News, the UK’s only newspaper for kids. The award-winning newspaper has been going since 2006 and has two million readers. It had been running a Just the Job column highlighting different jobs every week with the aim of inspiring young people. “It was one of the biggest thing in our postbag,” says founder and owner Sarah Jane Thomson. So First News decided to build on that. Five months ago it launched First Careers.

A survey of schools conducted before the launch showed “an off the scale” interest in a site like First Careers and a real feeling that there was a lack of information in primary and secondary schools about the broad range of careers now available to young people.

“Young people are picking their GCSEs with no idea what they want to do apart from the conversations they have at five years old about what they want to do when they grow up,” says Thomson.

Raising awareness

The site aims to inspire young people. “We want to help young people understand the world of work,” says Thomson. “There are lots of jobs kids are not aware of.” She firmly believes that awareness needs to start in primary school.

Thomson adds that children tend to follow their parents and by the time they are in secondary school and have realised what they want to do it they may be too far down a certain path, having not focused on the right subjects. “It is important to start early with parents and children. The more you know about what you want to do early in life the more likely you are to achieve it and be happy,” she says.

First News is reaching out to students and their parents, thousands of whom subscribe to First News, while at the same time it is working with companies to promote the different jobs they have on offer, including those that offer work experience opportunities to young people. It also works with over 10,000 partners schools to get the message out and is also talking to the Government about raising awareness.

Unlike other organisations focused at getting people into schools to talk about their careers,  which are reliant on those people living locally and being available, First Careers can reach every school in the country.

A broad range of careers

It started by focusing on the kind of jobs children tend to love – environmental and animal-based jobs – and approached companies that had those jobs available. From there it has built a broad range of different careers and is continuing to expand its portfolio, working with big corporates who might want to get their brand out to young people and their parents.

The profiles not only tell people what the different jobs involve, but what subjects they need to study to do them, what personal qualities people need and what the day-to-day nature of the job is. Those going on the website can search for jobs in three ways: by subject, by job or by brand, for instance, searching on Manchester United will bring up all jobs related to the football club.

For the videos young people interview people about their jobs, asking the kind of questions their peers might be interested in knowing. The aim is to provide engaging material of BBC quality with real people talking about real jobs. The interviewers are chosen from a pool of young people who have grown up with First News.

Thomson says: “We are really excited to get the site out to parents and schools. There are so many jobs that people don’t know about and new jobs coming up all the time. Our aim is to inspire.”

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