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Designing a career development program: a case study

Designing a career development program: a case study

Recently we checked in with Andrew McEwan, Deputy Principal of Holy Spirit College Fitzgibbon, Queensland.

Their experience can offer some insights for other schools seeking to create inspiring career education with their Year 8 and 9 students.

Holy Spirit College have recently experienced encouraging gains in student enthusiasm and  engagement for careers, and a real boost to student confidence.

Holy Spirit case study blog - Sept 19

Here’s what they did:

In 2022, Holy Spirit College completely redeveloped their career development program. Their new careers program was developed collaboratively with students, parents and carers, industry, staff and Brisbane Catholic Education representatives.

In 2023 they adjusted this approach to incorporate the BECOME program.

At the moment, students have explored the wide world of work using the BECOME.Me app. They have reflected on their aspirations, influences and where career ideas come from through the BECOME lessons and challenges. They are embarking on Agency projects they’ve designed themselves, exploring an aspect of a career idea that excites them right now.

Teachers are reporting increased excitement and enthusiasm for career pathways, plus a rise in student confidence.

Student engagement

Recent data from BECOME shows (and not for the first time) that when comparing before and after the BECOME program, student engagement with what they are learning at schools makes a huge jump - a 20% increase in engagement.

It appears that students have discovered for themselves that their school learning genuinely relates to a future they are excited about.

Teachers at Holy Spirit also noted an interest in and attention to 21st century skills and General Capabilities. These important skills are both embedded by teachers and actively requested by students across the curriculum. 

The school included an evening of speakers in career areas of interest to students as part of the plan. They looked at which occupational areas students are most interested in, through BECOME data and student project plans, and used this to guide speaker selection.

As the culmination of their learning, students do one of the end events built into the BECOME program, a Flipped Career Expo. This event is incorporated into their forthcoming Year 9 Subject Selection evening.

They are further planning for 100 students to experience intensive tertiary explorations at the University of Sunshine Coast later this year.

A narrow future

Narrow aspirations pose a significant career challenge to today’s young people. 

In huge numbers, data shows a pattern of teenagers focusing on a very narrow list of conventional career ideas, and on career ideas that follow conventional lines of gender and demographics.

Deep thinking and reflection about the world of work and about personal interests and motivations provide students with the time and tools to investigate their personal context of influences and ideas deeply. Such deep exploration needs to be done earlier and more often, before end-of-schooling decision pressure is on.

The potential gains for our students of this approach are massive, especially in learning engagement and self-efficacy over their own learning journey.


Implementing THE approach

Characteristics of Holy Spirit College’s approach:

  • A whole-school strategy is documented, and was developed collaboratively with the wider learning community. It is monitored and adjusted by a committee that meets each term.
  • Students are involved in the design of the careers strategy right from inception – and students exercise choice over their Agency project and experiment.
  • Students plan and are in charge of the end event showcasing their career explorations.
  • Using the BECOME aggregate data on student aspirations, plus community networks and awareness of the occupational areas students intend to explore in their Agency project, the school has invited speakers that match or relate to student interest, ideas and aspirations.
  • The College has made good use of BECOME’s expertise in widening student aspirations and helping them to reflect on their self, influences and motivations by using the program to intervene well before subject selection and end-of-school decisions are typically made.
  • As a result, students have the time and space to explore career ideas widely and without pressure, to digest and reflect on their learning before they make bigger life decisions.


More case studies:

In these two case studies below, students in the zone of transition from Primary to High School benefit from BECOME:

Transforming Senior Subject Selection

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What does a Whole-School Approach to Careers Ed Look Like?

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A case for careers education in the primary years

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