'It takes a village to raise a child' - Career Pathways Coach Gina Driscoll explains that career education is a team effort

Wednesday, 17 Jun 2020

‘I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school, I think I saw a Careers Advisor once and left at the end of Year 10 to pursue a secretarial job in the city so I could buy my own car! Over the years, I worked in a variety of administration and accounting roles in business, eventually working my way up to management level. In each job I had, I found my roles always seemed to evolve into roles with a people focus. I was naturally drawn to finding out what makes people tick. Fortunately, one day a manager saw this potential and encouraged me to study human resource management and created a new position for me. I loved the combined strategic and hands-on nature of this role, putting the right person in the right job, offering training and development opportunities to new and existing staff and watching the organisation benefit from having a continuous learning and improvement culture.’  

‘Later in my career, I had a stint in employment services working with people with a range of barriers, helping with their career development. This often involved assisting a person to retrain after illness or injury and I managed to assist literally hundreds of people back into suitable employment. To this day, I still have people who I have placed into jobs coming up to thank me for helping them to "get a fair go" at having a job. While in this role, I became interested in working with young people and assisting them to get a start, particularly into apprenticeships or traineeships, where they would get a qualification as well as a job. I found mentoring a young person and seeing their self-esteem and confidence build as they succeeded, to be extremely rewarding.’

‘It was this passion and commitment to the career development of young people that led me to apply for my "dream job" - my current role as Career Pathways Coach at Bishop Druitt College Coffs Harbour. As I was not trained as a teacher, I am fortunate indeed that Bishop Druitt College saw that my HR background, experience and existing business networks could bring an industry focus to the Careers role. They were looking for someone who could impart to the students the practical skills and knowledge they will need when seeking employment or tertiary training and to connect the students to real-world opportunities and employment trends. Due to my interest in promoting VET at the college, I'm really pleased to have been successful in increasing the number of school-based Traineeships and Apprenticeships in our school cohort, as well as students undertaking external VET subjects at TAFE. I believe that trades are a great option for many students and can be used as a pathway into university at a later date. To ensure that Bishop Druitt College offers an accredited Career Service at the college, I've recently completed a Grad Cert in Career Development Practice, which has formalised my existing skills and knowledge.'

In addition, I have been working to develop the college’s Career Pathways Program, which will be rolled out to students from early Year 5 and built upon each year through to Year 12. The program has been developed around the Australian Government's Australian Blueprint for Career Education and at its core, consists of delivering fun and interactive, age-appropriate careers activities that will assist students to develop the full range of career management competencies they will need to successfully manage their own careers into the future. The 11 Career Management Competencies consist of:


1. Build and maintain a positive self-concept

 2. Interact positively and effectively with others 

3. Change and grow throughout life 


4. Participate in lifelong learning supportive of career goals 

5. Locate and effectively use career information 

6. Understand the relationship between work, society and the economy 


7. Secure/create and maintain work 

8. Make career-enhancing decisions 

9. Maintain a balanced life and work roles 

10. Understand the changing nature of life and work roles 

11. Understand, engage in and manage the career-building process  

‘The program also offers individual case management and career counselling to all students, including those from diverse backgrounds and to students post Year 12. I hope that Bishop Druitt College’s career strategies will play an integral role in improving the quality of career services to our regional students and give them the enterprise skills they will need to effectively manage their own careers over their lifetime.’

‘My career service very much revolves around current career development theory and research which tells us:

The world of work and the way we work is changing rapidly and we need to prepare our kids for the workplace of the future. For example, many traditional jobs are disappearing due to advances in technology bringing in automation and globalisation - (think driverless buses and trucks and online retail shopping), however new jobs and technologies are emerging that will offer different opportunities for future employment (think emerging jobs to design and repair that new technology).  

We will all need to engage in lifelong learning to keep up with these changes in our society and it is forecast that young people may change jobs up to 15 times over their lifespan. Employers and industry will be looking to recruit people who possess transferable employability skills such as communication and people skills, problem-solving, digital literacy, creativity, resilience, reliability and motivation, and good personal presentation. These skills have always been in demand with employers but will become crucial for our youth.

Career education at school should be a collaboration between careers staff, students, parents, teachers, employers, and across school and industry sectors and that investing in the career development of our young people to ensure their successful outcomes will translate to economic benefits to the community as a whole.’

If I could give any career advice it would be:

Parents/Carers DO please get involved in the career development of your children:

  • Make time to see your school's Careers Counsellor together, multiple times if need be
  • Encourage your child to explore their interests and values and take advantage of the many career tools available and to engage in the career program at their school (even though they sometimes can't see the relevance to them right now)
  • It’s OK if your child does not know what they want to do after school - any experience i.e. casual work, volunteering, work experience, etc can be built on and helps them to develop their transferable employability skills.
  • If you are an employer or business owner, please consider engaging with your local schools and offering employment, training or work experience opportunities to local students.

Gina Driscoll

Career Pathways Coach
Bishop Druitt College
Coffs Harbour