“It’s ok not to know what I want to do”: An exploration into the aspirations of Early Childhood Studies students

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The importance of embedding employability skills in English Higher Education has received increased attention since the introduction of tuition fees and employers claiming that graduates lack the necessary skills for the workforce. This paper considers how these employability skills align with students’ aspirations, when there is uncertainty around their career trajectory, an area that appears unexplored in current literature.
Using an interpretative approach this small-scale study (n=25) sought views of first year students within an HE institution in the East Midlands of England. This paper reports on students’ career aspirations and motivations for studying, and working in, the field of Early Childhood, at the commencement of their studies. Through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, students reflected on their aspirations and motivations to follow this degree trajectory. This paper purports that students embark on this degree with a generic interest in working with children but are uncertain about career directions. They welcome the breadth of opportunities the degree could lead to. It is therefore argued that “it’s ok not to know what I want to do”. It is the role of academic and professional staff to embed a breath of opportunities for exposure to the range of career pathways available.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2022


  • Early Childhood Studies
  • graduate employability
  • Aspirations
  • careers
  • Higher education institution


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