Deciding what career to set a lifetime of hard work to can be quite a daunting task to face. For some, it can be something they struggle with for decades after they've left school. The difference with today’s youth is they face a lot of uncertainty that generations before them did not.
Is the future bright or obscure?
With technology advancing at a phenomenal rate, it’s obvious that jobs just won’t look the same in the future. These advancements can be unpredictable and disruptive; which is why it’s difficult for teens to prepare for a career that might completely change in ten years or doesn’t even exist yet.
This all may seem a little bleak but don’t panic, there is hope. Technology will simply never be human. This may seem obvious, but there are just some things a machine can’t get quite right – anyone who’s been stuck on an automated phone call yelling at it to put them through to a ‘real person’ will agree.
What the next generation needs to understand is how to manage this ongoing change and prepare themselves for the unknown. Cherie Perrow, a career development expert, talks about how we can help them achieve this.
What’s actually going on with our kids?
“The digital revolution has changed the nature of work and careers and introduced globalisation. I have been in education for 27 years and over the past five I have noticed three trends emerging:
Firstly, youth are overwhelmed with choice and don’t know how to make career decisions.
Secondly, anxiety and depression have increased. I have found that teens who are not motivated and engaged with their learning are more likely to encounter a sense of helplessness.
Thirdly, students are struggling to find meaningful subjects to specialise in and are remaining at school much longer.”
“Youth need to be equipped and empowered with portable skills and a mindset that will enable them to make decisions in a world of dynamic change.”
How can we help them?
Cherie explains that a professionally trained career counsellor plays a huge part in helping students navigate the rocky journey into careers.
“Career education and guidance is vital because it offers youth critical space to reflect, deconstruct and explore career values, and align these with possibilities.”
Giving students purpose and direction has been noted by the Ministry of Education to increase the relevance and engagement with their learning while at school.
A taste for the work life
Combine this direction with real-life experience through programmes like Gateway and Workchoice, and the doors really begin to open.
“All experience, positive and negative, enables students to learn about self and learn the why in their lives. Answering the why enables them to learn.”
“These programmes also enable specific occupational-knowledge to help young people explore specific industries of interest or trades they think will offer a fulfilling career future. This way it is possible to align self-knowledge with the world of work.”
Beautifully put, Cherie adds, “Young people must learn how to create their own personal brand, which can only be realised through a combination of work experience and self-knowledge.”
While all this doesn’t appear overnight with a bit of advice, over time the combination of experiences are critical. “Experiences are critical to help develop identity and gain insight into the strengths that fit into the world of work. It’s a great opportunity to experience diverse work environments that make it easier for students to find out what works for them.”
While we may not be able to give them exact directions as to where their path will end up, we can pave the way for them to be prepared no matter what direction they choose.
Head to the Workchoice website to see more about helping youth explore different career pathways.