Academic achievements may open the doors to employment, but an agile mindset is just as crucial to success in the world of work, says Mayfield School’s Head of Careers Amanda Glubb

In years to come it will be interesting to see how 2020 is presented. Despite being a year without precedent, many positives materialised: the speed at which all generations upskilled their use of technology to maintain communication; team working and academic excellence creating vaccines in record time; and the care and support people have shown for each other, whether through small local acts of kindness, or national campaigns.

People have demonstrated creative responses to problem-solving, the flexibility to adapt, and resilience in the face of ongoing adversity. These are the very skills we need to survive and thrive as humans, but they are also the transferable skills employers look for in their workforce.

When you consider that, fundamentally, the role of schools is to educate and prepare children for the transition into the adult world – which for most is the world of work – it seems strange that careers education does not always get the focus it deserves. Now more than ever, all young people need to be able to make informed choices about their future and educators have a duty to ensure their students leave, not only with good qualifications, but career-ready as well.

“Creative responses to problem-solving, the flexibility to adapt, and resilience in the face of adversity are the skills employers look for in their workforce”

Careers education plays an important role at Mayfield as it complements the school’s aim to develop independent, outward-looking and compassionate young women who are well equipped to, in the words of the School’s foundress, ‘meet the wants of the age’. Pupils are encouraged to be aspirational, to challenge stereotypes, to build on their strengths and to use their skills in the service of others. The soft or transferable skills they acquire and develop through co-curricular activities are as important as hard knowledge. Involvement in sport clubs, drama productions, art shows, musical concerts, Model United Nations conferences, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards or Mayfield’s own ‘Actions not Words’ programme – all of them help young people to learn about themselves and develop valuable transferable skills.

At Mayfield, careers knowledge and understanding is developed from Year 7 to 13 and beyond, using a collaboration of teachers, parents, alumni, employers, business representatives, UK and overseas universities, and careers professionals. Whether the platform be talks from external speakers, interview preparation with parents, mentoring by past pupils, professional careers guidance meetings, or online careers platforms, our approach is to build self-awareness, opportunity awareness and an agile mindset.

People with an agile mindset – who are open-minded, learning oriented, willing to reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and with a positive attitude towards change – are highly valued by employers, but also possess the skillset for entrepreneurship. Academic or vocational attainment will, as ever, open the employment door, but it is an agile mindset and strong transferable skills that ensure successful progression into the role you want.

Mayfield's Head of Careers on the importance of agile thinking
Mayfield Year 12s created ‘New Oceans’ a company selling reusable water bottles and environmentally friendly straws

Mayfield enterprise in action

Mayfield Year 12s Kitty, Zara, Blaize and Baillie, chose the Young Enterprise Company Programme as their Sixth Form Enrichment Activity. They created ‘New Oceans’, a company selling reusable water bottles and environmentally-friendly straws. They sold shares and organised a raffle to raise capital, attending trade fairs and local events to sell products and raise awareness of plastic pollutants. The girls got through to the area final of the Young Enterprise Annual Competition in Brighton and won an award for Best Customer Service.

Mayfield School

Further reading: Lancing College on supporting students in a challenging jobs’ market