What is the problem ?
It is not important how smart we are but how we are smart. Every person is smart in their own way and it is important to identify that and prepare a roadmap for their success and happiness aligned to their interests, strengths and talents. Career education and development is a structured, focused and continuous approach to empower youth to explore, understand, decide, plan and execute educational, vocational and career pathways based on real world scenarios towards achieving a self informed, self directed and evolving life and career vision.
Identity and Career Development is important especially at the school level, as it raises student aspirations, helps students fulfil their potential, assists students to overcome barriers that may be preventing them from using their talents, gives students a strong foundation and prepare for life beyond school - further education and work, empowers students to plan and manage their own futures, improves student retention and participation rates, provides targeted and timely career services to parents, teachers and students.
The way we live and work has been dramatically altered by factors such as globalisation, the rapid increases in technology and significant demographic shifts. No one can rely on a single qualification to sustain them throughout their entire working lives and the concept of a secure job for the rest of one's life does not exist anymore. Career development is a lifelong journey and starts in school.
However, students leaving school system seldom go through an informed decision making process on the industry or occupational area that is best suited for them, but rather focus on gaining entry into popular courses or education institutions, with a good placement record, which is considered prestigious or reputed. It is a known fact that the success rate for the IIT JEE is about 2% and pass rate for CA exam is about 3%, thousands of young people (and their families) invest considerable amount of time, money and effort to prepare for these competitive exams, rather than selecting an occupation group or pathway that perhaps is more suited to their aptitude, interest, personality, values, lifestyle, socio economic needs and other preferences.
To meet employer expectations, as well as prepare students for a successful future, structured, proactive interventions must occur during the formative years in school, where beliefs, values, attitudes are shaped and the foundation for many transferable skills are developed. Career development begins with the process of self-awareness, before embarking on career exploration to identify options that help getting into the best career path, and then effectively manage career transitions after school. Many psychological and behavioural issues caused by identity crisis, pressures experienced in the family, school, society, disabilities and learning disorders, can be identified and appropriately addressed through a holistic career development program in school. It is also possible to build core employability skills along with the right attitudes and work values, as part of any curriculum, and provide the student with the knowledge and capability to hone these skills and value system as they traverse through life after school.
Schools have the shared responsibility to ensure that young people leave school with the skills, knowledge, and attributes to manage their life, learning and work. Besides academic achievement, career management competencies such as resilience, adapting to change, networking, decision making, conflict resolution and self management need to be developed in school.
According to Higher Education in India: Vision 2030, a report produced by international consultants Ernst and Young for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) half of all graduates are not employable in any sector based on industry standards, sparking growing concern about the mismatch between graduates produced by various education institutions and the needs of the job market.
Among some disciplines the skills gap appears to be staggering – 75% of IT graduates are deemed ‘unemployable’. National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) maintains that less than a third of 3 million graduates of engineering colleges, only 10% to 15% of regular graduates are employable.
And despite an increase in education levels, one in three graduates up to the age of 29 was unemployed according to the Labour Ministry’s Youth Employment-Unemployment Scenario 2012-13 released last November. In urban areas one in four young graduates was unemployed, while in rural areas it was 36.6% of graduates – a substantial rise compared to the previous year.
Several of the studies citing very low employability levels appeared to base them on the need for high levels of emotional intelligence and soft skills, not just technical skills. There is a definite disconnect between the skills and aptitude of the majority of graduates and the needs of industry. A majority of ‘employable’ graduates in India come from the country’s top 30 institutions. The challenge is to impart skills to the large majority of Indian students, and to maintain quality in more institutions below the top 30. The problem also arises due to the fact that graduates have not had an informed decision making process on the industry or occupational area
But, to resolve the mismatch between employer expectations, needs and the graduate attributes the educational system needs to be tied to the job market from the formative years in school, where beliefs, values, attitudes are shaped and the foundation skills are developed. Career development is a lifelong journey and must start in school.