Exploring Career Sectors and Skills

Format
Let's Talk Science

How does this align with my curriculum?

Students will explore STEM career sectors and the skills required for a variety of STEM careers.

Summary

  • Students will familiarize themselves with different career sectors that involve STEM
  • Students will classify career sectors into self-created categories, comparing and contrasting different sectors
  • Students will identify which employability skills are needed to succeed in different STEM career sectors
Specific Expectations for Ontario

SNC1D, SNC1P, SNC2D, SNC2P:

A1.7 select, organize, and record relevant information on research topics from various sources, including electronic, print, and/or human sources (e.g., Statistics Canada publications, NASA or EnerGuide websites, personal interviews), using recommended formats and an accepted form of academic documentation

A2.1 identify and describe a variety of careers related to the fields of science under study (e.g., astrophysicist, geophysicist, conservation officer, park warden, fire protection engineer, hydrologist, electrician) and the education and training necessary for these careers

Setting the Stage

Exposure to a wide variety of different career possibilities allows students to think about a broad range of different career options that they might want to pursue. Thinking about the differences and similarities between careers may help students better understand their options and identify areas of interest. 

Students may also be unaware of how many different careers sectors involve STEM skills. By exploring a variety of sectors which involve STEM careers, students will have the opportunity to see how studying science might help them develop some of the employability skills required to be successful in STEM careers as well as those careers not traditionally thought of as STEM careers. 

In this lesson, students will explore different career sectors through a sorting and categorization activity. Then students will learn about employability skills and identify which skills are required for these sectors. 

This is lesson 1 of 4 in a set that can be used sequentially or as standalone lessons. The suggested sequence for completing these lessons is:

  1. Exploring Career Sectors and Skills
  2. How Does STEM Support Non-STEM Careers?
  3. STEM Skills and Self-Exploration
  4. Query a Career Profile

Materials & Preparation

  • Employability Skills List Reproducible (1 per group) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Reflecting on Employability Skills Exit Slip (1 per student) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy

In School: 

  • Career Sector Sort Reproducible (1 per group) [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Optional: computers or tablets with internet access 

At Home: 

Using a Google Jamboard

Before the lesson, make a copy of the Career Sector Sort Jamboard for each group. To make a copy, click on the three dots in the top right corner of the Jamboard page and select “Make a Copy.” After this, students will be able to edit the Jamboard.

What To Do

Part 1: Exploring Career Sectors

  • Teachers could introduce the idea of a career sector as a way of categorizing occupations that are related to one another in some way. For example, the "healthcare sector" refers to the various careers related to maintaining the health of people. 

Did you know?

A Career sector is a collection of related careers (e.g., the healthcare sector is a collection of careers related to treating and maintaining people’s health. This includes doctors, nurses, therapists, psychologists, and technicians).

  • Teachers could organize students into small groups and provide each group with the Career Sector Sort (either the paper or Google Jamboard version). Teachers could explain that students will sort the jobs by career sector. There are a variety of ways to sort the jobs, and some jobs may fit into more than one sector. 
    • At School: Students could use a paper copy of the Career Sector Sort reproducible. Students could write each job under a corresponding career sector.
    • At Home: Students could use the Career Sector Sort Google Jamboard. Students could drag the small yellow job sticky notes to the corresponding large blue career sector sticky notes. Students could duplicate any job sticky notes that they want to put into more than one career sector. 
    • If students need more information about a job to categorize it into a career sector, teachers could encourage them to look it up on the Let’s Talk Science career exploration page or the Government of Canada’s job profile search page.
  • Once students have finished classifying their jobs, teachers could lead a short discussion using the following guiding questions. 
    • Which sectors included STEM jobs? 
    • Why do you think jobs involving STEM are in so many different career sectors? 
    • What surprised you when you were sorting these jobs?
    • Which jobs did you categorize into multiple career sectors? 
    • What is a question you have after completing this activity?
    • Career sectors are one way to sort jobs. What’s another way that we could categorize different jobs?

Part 2: Reflecting on Employability Skills

  • Teachers could explain that while specific skills and knowledge are required for specific careers, all careers require or benefit from more general skills known as employability skills or transferable skills. The teacher could share the following definition of transferable/ employability skills from the Conference Board of Canada

Did you know?

Transferable skills (employability skills) are the skills you need to enter, stay in, and progress in the world of work.

  • Students could continue working in groups to connect employability skills with career sectors. Teachers could ask students to each choose a sector that is of interest to them from the Career Sector Sort reproducible. If possible, avoid duplication within a group. 
  • Teachers could then provide each group with the Employability Skills List reproducible. Students could highlight the skills they think might be applicable to their sector. Encourage students to seek clarification if they are not sure about what a particular skill means. 
  • Once students have highlighted skills relevant to their sector, they could share their thoughts with other group members. As they share their thinking, members of their groups may suggest additional skills be added to the list or ask for clarification if necessary. Students could also compare the skills highlighted for different careers. Teachers could prompt students to think about similarities and differences between the skills needed by different sectors.
    • Students may discover that they are highlighting the majority of the skills. Some may discover that they don’t know enough about a sector to highlight certain skills. As this is an exploratory activity, there is no correct number of skills that should be highlighted. The purpose of the activity is to initiate students’ thinking about the wide variety of skills that are needed in the workplace. However, as employability skills are those that are deemed important by employers, it is likely that each sector/career will benefit from most, if not all, of the skills listed.
  • Teachers could lead a class debrief asking students to share what they notice about the skills highlighted (e.g. which skills were important and why).
    • Were many skills important for more than one career sector? Which ones and why?
    • Which skills do you think are the most important for employability? Why?
    • How might some of these skills be developed at school or specifically in science class?
  • Students could share their final reflections on the Reflecting on Employability Skills Exit Slip.

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ existing knowledge and preconceived ideas about different career pathways based on their comments during discussions and group work. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ interest in STEM careers based on their responses in the Reflecting on Employability Skills Exit Slip. If this activity is performed at the beginning of a course, this information could be used to help differentiate future activities, including career exploration based on interests.

Assessment

  • Teachers could assess students’ existing knowledge and preconceived ideas about different career pathways based on their comments during discussions and group work. 
  • Teachers could assess students’ interest in STEM careers based on their responses in the Reflecting on Employability Skills Exit Slip. If this activity is performed at the beginning of a course, this information could be used to help differentiate future activities, including career exploration based on interests.

Extensions

In this lesson, teachers could expand on students’ understanding of their own employability skills with this lesson.

Teachers could help students understand the importance of STEM skills for non-STEM careers with this lesson. 

Teachers could help students reflect on their own employability skills and careers of interest with this lesson. 

Teachers could help students gain more information about a wide range of STEM careers with this lesson.

Extensions

In this lesson, teachers could expand on students’ understanding of their own employability skills with this lesson.

Teachers could help students understand the importance of STEM skills for non-STEM careers with this lesson. 

Teachers could help students reflect on their own employability skills and careers of interest with this lesson. 

Teachers could help students gain more information about a wide range of STEM careers with this lesson.

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