As a practitioner of holistic human capital development, I believe on being occupied with the study readiness and career choice topic early in any person’s life. However, it is surprising that people only engage on this topic at the high school level of the learners. It is as if readiness for studies and career choice becomes only relevant during the transition from high school to the college and university. It is for this reason that we find many learners not ready to choose the line of study that is informed by the ultimate careers they would like to follow.
My objective is to encourage all the parents, guardians and scholars to engage in this topic early in their schooling journey. Secondly, I would like to highlight the themes that should form the engagement. It is more complex than it looks, and always an emotional topic to handle. Scholars become victims of many fault lines not previously obvious to them.
Timing in handling this transitional topic is a challenge to all the scholars. They do not always have insights and necessary information to base their consideration on. Access to information is costly for some, and in most cases their school vocational guidance officers are not exposed to the latest trends. As a result they wake up very late and end up taking studies and career directions that are not well researched.
The schools and parents are encouraged to invest in mentorship program to support the scholars in their studies and career choices. However, such programs alone are not sufficient. The schools must work together with the various mentors in conceptualizing and designing educational tours to the institutions of higher learning (universities and colleges), attending studies and career fairs, exhibitions, etc.
The interaction between the schools and the industry should be effected in early years of the scholars development. The schools must employ career counselors, guidance teachers, and industry liaison officers. Companies must be encouraged to adopt schools under their Corporate Social Responsibility programs and see the scholars through to the universities. Such scholars could become scholarship recipients of these companies. Ultimately they would graduate to become their employees. However, the idea here is not for the companies to support schools for their own benefit. This is done for the benefit of the society with the hope that the economy will benefit from an educated people.
We cannot ignore the commercialization of the student information activities, like privately organised career fairs and exhibitions. They occupy the space left by the schools and education authorities. As a result such initiatives are perceived to be for the children of the middle class and the wealthy parents. There is a need for collaboration between private and public organizers. The main objective must be to assist the scholars in their studies and career readiness irrespective of their status in the society.
As the 4th industrial revolution becomes a reality, we need to be mindful of the role that technology is already playing in delivering education and the new careers emerging in the industry. The scholars must be preoccupied with the kind of careers that are going to be in existence by the time they graduate from the college/university.
It is a matter of concern to have the school career guidance offices that are poorly equipped with technology. We need digital libraries that are interactive and a place of global connectivity for the learners. They must be more than libraries but be digital information centres. The parents cannot be disengaged from their children’s studies and career ambitions. They must be observant of their children’s potential and harness it. The schools cannot be left with the responsibility of guiding these children alone. Their holistic development is a partnership.