Recent studies have revealed that as much as 90% of students opt for a wrong career path due to a lack of career guidance and the persisting gap between skills and aptitudes.
If we were to draw a parallel between the youth of today vis-a-vis the previous generations, today’s youngsters seem to be better equipped with knowledge and skills. This can be attributed to the fact that they are more exposed to technology and have additional years of education than their predecessors before they enter the workforce.
Despite this tremendous advantage, a huge percentage of young people struggle to find suitable employment. Recent studies have revealed that as much as 90% of students opt for a wrong career path due to a lack of career guidance and the persisting gap between skills and aptitudes.
Despite acquiring higher education, a majority of students aren’t sure about what career is best for them. This demonstrates that academic scores aren’t the only thing important for securing good placements and having a great career. There are several factors that affect a student’s career journey.
LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS
Self-awareness is essential at every stage of life, but while choosing a career, it takes on a new significance. Lack of self-awareness is one of the main reasons why students are constantly torn when it comes to choosing career routes.
Although they might be aware of their hobbies, they are unable to connect their aptitudes to career choices. Additionally, there appears to be a significant gap between academic achievement and career-relevant abilities, including communication, time management, and problem-solving.
LIMITED UNDERSTANDING OF FUTURE PROFESSIONS
Students are often left puzzled about what to do after completing their education. A study estimates that 93% of learners are aware of only eight or fewer professional alternatives, such as engineering, medical, law, finance, and information technology. In contrast, there are over 800 different career paths available for them to explore.
Furthermore, students are overwhelmed by the vast array of courses offered by universities and institutions while choosing a professional route. Clearly, they are in dire need of professional guidance to gain knowledge of careers and best-fit courses.
PEER INFLUENCE AND SOCIAL PRESSURE
From an early age, a child’s peers play an influential role in the formation of their identity, attitude, beliefs, and outlook. While making career decisions, students may feel coerced and compelled to choose a career based on what peers are doing. Not only do friends influence them, but they may also be under pressure from parents, relatives, and teachers.
However, these influencers are not equipped with the right knowledge to guide the student in the right direction. This may lead to wrong decisions and dissatisfaction at work.
TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON LEADING COLLEGES
To keep up with the competitive world, a lot of students chase top universities and colleges without giving much consideration to the course they want to pursue. In a bid to be a part of a prestigious university, they tend to choose courses that may not align with their career goals.
This is one of many reasons why, after course completion, students feel under-confident about their skills and are not able to flourish in their career journey.
FEAR OF FAILURE
Failure is an overlooked phenomenon in our country. If a student is unable to lead a successful life as per societal standards, he is generally looked down upon. When success is determined by how well one has achieved social objectives, the thought of failing in any way can be horrifying.
Additionally, parental expectations can lead to choosing socially acceptable careers rather than what learners really like to do. This is why many students do not follow their natural talent and instincts while choosing a career and settle for something less challenging and unsuitable.
Both students and guardians need guidance to align career choices with interests and aptitudes to be able to help students lead confident lives.
SKILL GAP AND UNEMPLOYMENT
A recent study has affirmed that approximately 75% of all organizations acknowledged a fundamental skill gap in the industry, which is a major reason behind the existing unemployment rate in India. There is a pressing need for a braided pathway between education and employment.
A mismatch in skills and industry requirements may lead to discontent among job seekers. Students need to build the right skill set not only for seeking employment but for a sustainable career.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
A career misstep isn’t the easiest thing to face. It has far-reaching effects on an individual’s well-being, besides manifesting long-term dissatisfaction, lack of motivation, poor performance, and social disregard. Scientific research reveals that a wrong career choice can lead to serious health issues like depression, denial, and fear, which may take years to heal.
According to a study conducted in the UK, for every 100,000 workers, 1500 reported work-related stress and depression.
Thus, it is imperative that career choices are made based on the intersection of personality, skills, interests, and workstyle orientation. The role of career advisors and counsellors is paramount in guiding students toward a comprehensive career journey.
Sadly, India still needs 1.4 million career counsellors for 315 million students to maintain a globally acceptable student-to-counsellor ratio of 3:1. The need of the hour is a sustainable and structured approach to career guidance among students at the school and university levels.
This necessitates the implementation of counselling programs in the school ecosystem with the aim of guiding students in their academic, personal, and career development. These three aspects are the hallmarks of a successful school program which, in turn, prepares students to navigate their career journey in a comprehensive manner.
Structured career counselling from a young age enables students to make informed decisions about subject and stream selection, leading to better career choices.
Schools need to invest in trained career counsellors and get equipped with tools that will enable them to create a career curriculum that empowers learners with self-awareness aligned with personality and career interests.
With NEP making it mandatory for schools to have career counselling departments, educational institutions must encourage profile-building activities like internships, job shadowing, webinars, and alumni interactions. Just as education and learning are a continuous and long-term processes, so is career planning.
Age-appropriate career guidance is an absolute necessity today to enable students to chart successful career pathways and lead successful lives.