There is a false assumption that’s been perpetrated for years – that we all know what we want to be when we grow up. In the work I’ve done over the years with employers, schools, education, industry and Government, it’s pretty clear that that’s simply not the case. For school students, in particular, the plethora of career options available to them are either overwhelming or, in a large percentage of cases, invisible and the career counselling options leave a bit to be desired.
A recent report by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education stated that “Australia’s postsecondary pathways are difficult to understand and navigate for people who are familiar with the system, let alone those who are not.” I couldn’t agree more.
For those just starting down their career pathways, predominantly school students, there needs to be a better source of information about jobs – in particular, what the jobs of today are and what future jobs might be available to them.
Unfortunately, the information available to school students is severely lacking. School career counsellors are often teachers who, among helping students to decide on their futures, need to also teach classes and attend to the administrative tasks that come along with teaching. They are not career experts, nor do they have the information at hand about the rapidly changing job market.
Nor are the other major influencers in a student’s life – their parents, peers and social media.
It’s particularly a problem in low socio-economic status schools where career counsellors are “less valued, less experienced, more likely to be unqualified and more likely to report inadequate resources” the report says.
When it comes to career counselling, this lack of domain experience in the jobs space leads to bad advice. All too often I hear that career recommendations are made because of what a student is good at. Good at maths? Be an Accountant. Good at technology? Be a Software Developer. Where does passion, propensity and preference come into this?
It’s no secret that the people who are most successful and satisfied in their careers are the ones who love what they do. We need a better system to help students align their “loves” with careers – and careers that are growing in demand.
With so many career options these days, surely we can come up with a better way of career counselling to help people understand what they can do and where they can go in the future.
Watch this space!