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Kaikorai Valley College careers adviser Judith Shields said it was essential for all secondary school pupils to explore careers now, because the choices made at school influenced their career options.
She said when secondary school pupils picked subjects without a job or career in mind, or without thinking about their own skills and dreams for the future, they made their own transition to a job much harder and longer.
She has recommended pupils look at Career Checker (www.careers.govt.nz/tools/career-checker) - an interactive online quiz that anyone can do - as a first step towards working out a personal career path.
The quiz has 12 picture-based questions that rate answers on a scale of 1 to 5, starting with a dull or frustrated image to a photo illustrating vibrancy and confidence.
Based on these answers, the quiz taker is guided to relevant resources to help them take proactive steps to making informed career decisions.
It could also stimulate career conversations for families and career professionals, she said.
It is believed the internet tool may help address the level of underachievement in NCEA at New Zealand schools.
Kaikorai Valley College pupils were introduced to Career Checker late last year and found it easy to use and a good step towards discovering their personal career pathway.
Careers New Zealand chief operating officer Jay Lamburn said choosing the right subjects at school could make the difference between moving quickly through into a job and a career with a future, or having to spend time and money casting around to find where their future lies.
''The right subjects are the ones that are both a good fit for the individual's skills and aspirations, and ones that lead to occupations where there are jobs available.
''They could be doing subjects that nurture their interests and thus make the transition to further training and a job easier.
''When a student has had some careers support and puts in some personal thought into their subject choices with a view to the future, it is then a matter of refining as they go along rather than scratching heads and starting from the beginning at say 17 or 18, when they leave school.''
She said young people could also go on to tertiary training chosen rather randomly or on a whim, and again this was time and money wasted if no proper thought had gone into matching their skills to jobs.