I Want To Be A Train Driver


A post on a social network brought me back to a thing of the past – well I think it is – The JigCal test.

A Jigcal test for those not in the know, was a computerised test where you answered a load of questions, the test then got sent off to some computer centre which returned several weeks later sheets of computer printed A3 sheets bringing the whole truth of real life crashing around your ears.

As a BBC article delightfully put it – “Many children had their dreams of Hollywood or football stardom shattered as the computer predicted they would become wig makers or lighthouse keepers.”

But the questionnaire – and the often bizarre career suggestions it produced – remains one of the defining childhood memories for most of the estimated four million pupils across Scotland, England and Wales who completed it.

Now a BBC Radio Scotland documentary is to transport listeners back to the early 1980s, when today’s generation of tech-savvy 30-somethings were still in short trousers, and computers were something most had only seen in science fiction movies.

The Jiig-Cal system – an acronym of Job Ideas and Information Generator Computer Assisted Learning – was the brainchild of Jim Closs, an occupational psychologist teaching in the business studies department of Edinburgh University.

Mr Closs, an enthusiastic pioneer of early computer technology, believed he could harness its fledgling power to improve the careers advice pupils were given at school.

In those days, the sum total of pupil’s career guidance was a 30-minute chat with a careers officer shortly before they left school, much of which was spent by the officer gently attempting to persuade the youngster that their dreams of becoming an astronaut or model were perhaps a little fanciful.

You can read the full BBC article here.

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