CERIC’s Career Development in Children: Identifying Critical Success Conditions and Strategies project has been awarded to an international team of academic researchers led by Dr Lorraine Godden, Ironwood Consulting and Carleton University; Nicki Moore, University of Derby, and Dr Heather Nesbitt and Dr Stefan Merchant, Queen’s University. This project will examine how foundational concepts and skills that are introduced and developed by classroom teachers connect to career-related learning in Canadian elementary schools.

The project stems from a Request for Proposals that CERIC released last fall to identify the foundational elements that students in grades 4-6 need to thrive in all phases of life and career planning. It is clear that introducing career concepts within the early years, whether formally through designed programs or informally through play-based learning, can have a long lasting and impactful presence. But in the absence of the formal infusion of career into curricula, what options are available within the education structure to ensure that children can sustainably develop the tools they will need to navigate a world of work we cannot yet imagine?

The starting point for the research is that teachers are the linchpin, engaging with students at every age and stage. Teachers guide various learning and play activities that foster foundational skills (eg, healthy habits, social and emotional skills, self-confidence, empathy, team work, critical thinking, self-awareness, emotional regulation) but these are not usually undertaken from a career development perspective. Yet, in later grades, both teacher and student are expected to connect the dots to help students make sound educational, career and life-planning choices.

CERIC’s interest in this project is three-fold:

  • To understand the landscape of what is happening in elementary education across Canada related to introducing/building career related foundational skills
  • To use a mixed-methods approach to explore the impact of these conditions and strategies on career development foundational skills
  • To develop a teacher’s aid toolkit that validates teacher practice

Researchers will gather data from educators, parents and grade 4-6 students in public school settings across Canada. Diverse perspectives (including Indigenous communities, immigrant communities, francophone communities, special needs educators, and urban, rural and remote communities) will be included to deepen understanding of individual and collective beliefs, perceptions and interpretations concerning career-related education.

This project builds on earlier CERIC-supported research from Memorial University that investigated the career development process of children, aged 3 to 8 (pre-K to grade 3). It produced two guides – one for Educators and one for Parents – to empower them to support young children during this critical period of play, fun and fantasy.