Use holidays for learning

2016-09-27 06:00

With the Spring holidays approaching, you may want your children to do something more constructive with their time at home, especially once they have reached an employable age.

Your impressionable teenager may be mistaken by a career path which is portrayed as glamorous, forgetting that success is hard work earned. Perhaps it’s time to consider job shadowing or casual employment to help your child create the mind shift. It may be a daunting first experience, but as a parent we encourage you to help them make the first steps.

A good starting point would be to ask your child “What are you interested in?” and follow it up with research.

Thereafter you could consider taking your child with you to your place of employment. If your employer is unable to accommodate your request, you could help your child facilitate independent employment opportunities.

As a first point of call, try engaging your personal networks like neighbours and community forums for potential employers. Should you not find a suitable fit for your child within your local networks, you should escalate the process and consider calling prospective companies.

Once you have made a connection with a company, explain what your child is interested in. If that company is unable to facilitate your request, they could recommend an alternative company.

Once you have secured a job shadowing opportunity for your child, get a handle on the logistics. Find out the duration of the job shadowing, hours, dress code etc.

But remember, your child has a responsibility to do some research too. If your teen is equipped and well-informed, it will make for a more enjoyable work experience.

Companies are generally open to volunteers and casual staff to provide support for short periods of time, often project-driven.

Occasionally it is menial work tasks, but exposure to the working environment builds character and helps build corporate social skills.

Volunteering at a NGO may offer a more meaningful experience, which may stimulate your children’s maturity level and broadens their worldly understanding.

Learning’s such as protocol, professionalism and respect for authority are the more subtle takeaways that children in job shadowing and work exposure opportunities may experience.

Work exposure shows our youth how higher education leads to a reward – not just in pay – but in terms of job satisfaction and making a difference.

Higher education institutions like public TVET Colleges realise the value of work integrated learning, and as such have partnered with SETA’s and industry for just that. Industry partners consider these learning prospects as informative interview processes, to select future employment candidates.

By exposing children to a positive and vibrant workspace, they’ll soak it up and learn from it. You will be able to see their confidence, communication skills, creativity, work ethics and leadership skills bloom. Something as simple as stressing the importance of a firm handshake can do wonders.

Exposing your children to the work environment will help them set clearer goals for the future.V This column was contributed by False Bay TVET College. For comments and suggestions on future articles, please send us an email to

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