What is Dress-up Day?

Career day is the one day in the year when all year 7 school pupils (13 and 14 year olds) learners come to school dressed in an item of clothing representing a career. It is an annual event initiated in 2008 by PACE Career Centre in partnership with the Department of Basic Education. The event is held in the month of October each year and is open to all schools throughout the country. The purpose of career day to create awareness about various careers from an early age in a way which is fun and which stimulates interest. Parents and Teachers should not be unduly concerned about a child’s career choice at this stage. In the awareness stages teachers and parents should encourage career interests no matter how absurd or unlikely.  Each child learns differently and at their own pace depending on their environment. The more they learn about themselves – Who am I? What are my likes and dislikes? What are my abilities and strengths, etc? Career dress up day is aligned to the curriculum for Life Orientation, World of Work. PACE provides free career related information including work books, videos and posters on the dress-up day website, www.careerdressupday.com.

Why Dress-up?

In South Africa, most youngsters do not have enough exposure to careers by the time they need to make subject choices in Year 9. Year 7 learners are really too young to know exactly what career they are going to choose for the rest of their lives.  However, they should be thinking about various career fields and careers they are interested in doing while having fun at the same time. Getting dressed up in a career and going to school is really fun!  This event has attracted the participation of schools throughout the country and has become a highlight on the primary school calendar.

The role of Life orientation teachers

Career education starts formally in Year 7 as learners are required to explore their interests related to the world of work. Activities to do with careers in primary school should be age appropriate. Keep the lessons fun, active and participative! Have a career dress-up day at school to spark interest and debate around careers. Life Orientation teachers are responsible for the implementation of the curriculum for Life Orientation as outlined in the Topics for World of Work, Year 7.

            Topics to be covered:

–       Importance of reading and studying

–       Career fields

–       Simulation of career related activities

–       Value and importance of work in fulfilling personal needs and potential

            Suggested timeframes

Here are some suggested activities and timeframes for completion as outlined in the workbook which can be downloaded from the careerday website.

 Lesson / Activity                 Form of Assessment            When              

1. Reading for pleasure    Written piece                              1st week September

2. Reading to remember   Written piece                             2nd week September

3. Career presentation      Reporting                                  3rd week September

4. Dress-up day                 Presentation                             October

            Assessment of learners

Formal assessment of career interests and aptitudes can be done this stage if necessary. Learners should be encouraged to write an essay or stand up and present their career to the rest of their class.  A suggested mark sheet is provided in the workbook which can be downloaded from the website.  Let’s start with a step-by-step approach to facilitating career education in the classroom by looking at the curriculum and what it says. The various outcomes and assessment standards are presented below.

The role of parents

Believe it or not parents are one of the biggest, influences on a child’s career choice. One of the problems we have in South Africa is that young children do not have enough exposure to the world of work especially those living in rural areas. As a result, young people are not ready for the career decision-making in year 9.  What should parents be doing with their children to help prepare them for the future? The first thing to keep in mind is that your child is still a child and is not ready to choose a final career. They are still learning about themselves, what they like and dislike what their interests are. All career investigation should be encouraged by the parents. Parents are encouraged to participate in the dress-up day by choosing items of clothing and discussing possible career choices with their children.

Many parents say to me, I don’t know enough to advise my child about careers because I don’t know enough. My response is this: A parent does not need to know all the answers. You can find out the answers. Parents often don’t take the time to listen to their children.  What is important is to listen to what your child is saying. When you listen to your child you make them feel as if they have something of value to say. Listening to your child on any subject will, by default, raise that child’s self-confidence. Listening to a child means that you take time and care enough to listen.

“Do’s” and “Dont’s” of career research in School Year 7 (13 and 14 year olds)


Encourage all interests in their careers (not just the careers you think they should do)

Talk to your children about careers

Research careers with your children with your children


Do not put pressure on your child to make an early career choice

Don’t think that you have all the answers to tough questions

Don’t put pressure on your child and force them into a decision you want for them.

In summary,

Career dress-up day is a fun day for learners to get as much exposure to as many careers as possible. The younger the child the more likely the career decision will change. Children may be express interest in a range of unrelated career interests at various stages throughout childhood. No problem! This is all part of the learning process. For more information on careers visit, www.careerdressupday.com.