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Curriculum learning areas provide rich teaching and learning opportunities for career education. When career topics and concepts are highlighted within regular classroom teaching and learning, students develop their career management competencies in meaningful contexts. In turn, study within learning areas is linked to life beyond school and takes on greater relevance for students.

There are parallels between developing career management competencies within the curriculum and developing the key competencies within the curriculum. Career management competencies can be specifically addressed or brought to the forefront in modules of work in all learning areas.

'There is a limit to how much education you can sustain for no obvious reason… there is a dramatic drop-off in motivation and attendance of students aged 14 to15… but if they are starting to develop a view that what I am doing will lead me to this area or that area, if they see the connection, it gives them a reason to continue to learn their English, to develop their maths or whatever they need… that there is a purpose for it… then they will achieve success.'

Dr Stuart Middleton, Manukau Institute of Technology


A planned and co-ordinated approach is needed if career education is to be included in the teaching and learning that happens in curriculum learning areas. Schools need to consider:

  • how teachers can be assisted to understand the aims and purposes of career education
  • which career management competencies can be addressed in specific classroom contexts
  • when and how these competencies will be addressed
  • how well the students' needs have been met.

Adjusting learning modules

Teachers can consider how a learning module can be adjusted or enlarged to include some relevant career education learning outcomes and how career concepts can be fore-grounded without detracting from the subject-specific aims. In many cases, this enhances teaching and learning by adding an applied, future-focused perspective.

An example of how this might be done is a module that studies the environmental impact of sources of energy, especially electricity and gas. Teachers can address the career management competency of self-awareness by encouraging students to think about their own behaviour and values with regard to the environment and energy. In considering the impact of energy production on the environment, they can think about how people’s lives are affected. Students could then consider consequent career challenges and opportunities. They could explore disappearing and emerging occupations that relate to changing sources of energy.

'We took students in our City and Guilds hospitality and catering course on a trip to a winery. The focus was to be food technology, the process of wine making and appreciation. But once we were there, the students became interested in the whole operation, the vine management, harvesting, packaging, marketing and exporting. They became aware of the range of occupations in the wine industry. It became an authentic careers learning experience.'

Careers adviser, Papanui High School

Integrating learning areas

A career education focus can facilitate the integration of different learning areas within the school-based curriculum. Career education often provides a context that crosses traditional subject boundaries.

An example of how this might be done is a module of work that requires students to research career pathways by interviewing people in a range of occupations. Students can choose occupations that reflect subjects they are studying. They will develop oral language, media and IT skills and they can be set tasks that relate to workplace technology and health.

Published on: 04 Aug 2009