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Sample through to career selection

You found your purpose (Link to post) and have made the decision on the career path to take. What’s next?

It may be wise to ‘sample’ or ‘experiment’ the profession you have chosen to embark on. This may save you time, money and unnecessary discomfort, especially if it takes you through the academic route.

Here are three ways to explore and experience the career you have chosen to take.

  1. Take an internship or volunteer as an apprentice in a profession of your choice. Use the time to ask, explore, inquire and experience your selection.
  2. Take a MOOC (Massive, Online, Open Courses). Register for one of the MOOC platforms with one or two courses in the field chosen, and start learning. This will give you an in-depth insight into the subject matter and motivation to pursue it further. (Should it convince you away from your selected path, you have saved time and money with registering with a full qualification. In addition, you acquired a skill or knowledge that may be useful in the future.)
    Check out the following MOOC platforms:
    https://www.coursera.org/
    https://www.udemy.com/
  3. Join Social Media professional groups of your chosen profession and become a “fly on the wall” gaining insight through their experiences. In the process you may also extend your network and search for future mentors or even employers.

This sampling could be spent during your ‘gap year’ period and make this time a meaningful part of your career selection journey.

Image source: Edsurge

Trust your intuition when choosing a career path

By now, you have adopted a growth mindset (Link Post), know the importance of acquiring broad skills rather than a single skill (Link post) and you may ask yourself what now? I am still confused…

Many books have been written on the power of purpose, (Amazon lists more than 150K of them), the desire to make a difference and live a purposeful life. So why don’t we start the search for our career path combined with our search for purpose?

It is time for deep reflection and working within. The following questions can be asked to help you find your purpose (the WHY for your existence).

  1. You are 10 years old. What did you spend most of your time doing? What did you love doing?
  2. If you were a character in a Marvel movie. How would you save the world? What will you save the world from?
  3. What do people come to you for advice for?
  4. In what areas do you feel comfortable to take risks in?
  5. What makes you cry? What makes you happy?

Finding the purpose is mostly about how we contribute to the better of other people.

If you find this exercise difficult and not ready for this in-depth questioning. Start with a simple question… What is that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life that will make you jump out of bed every single morning?

We tend to ask what jobs will bring us a good and secured income but forget to trust our intuition regarding our existence in this world.

Equip yourself to the future job market

If you knew that you could do whatever your mind is set to do, what would you be doing?

Include this question when pursuing your career choice. Reflect on it and use it in discussions with family and friends. Choose people who will listen to you in a non-judgmental way and with constructive feedback. (Check this post about the importance of mindset). 

When we finish school and are faced with a career decision, we are also under pressure to choose a certain path, from parents or our social circle. Usually, the advice is towards the familiar and conventional job career choices; becoming a lawyer, doctor, accountant…all to secure your future and financial stability.

The question is what future are we securing? Numerous articles and research discuss the unknown with the jobs of the future due to the magnitude of changes brought by technology. Automation and artificial intelligence is said to already replace 50% of the jobs force in the USA. So what will be the jobs of the future and what skills will we need to ensure we are equipped?

In the past, mastering one skill used to be the norm. Be good in one thing, master it and you will become successful. Unfortunately, today, mastering one skill is not enough. In his book, Adam Scott, ‘How to fail at almost everything but still win big’ the author claims that it’s better to develop a variety of abilities and sometimes fail than mastering a single skill. Having many skills, increases your market value and will help you adjust to the world’s constant changes as well as help you stand out from the competition.

How is this helping parents or the decision makers? It may help alleviate the pressure of acquiring one single skilled profession. It may change our perspective that failing in a specific job choice may just be a stepping stone towards another route. Acquiring a variety of skills, already from school is vital if we are to become ready for the jobs of the future. 

Start with your mindset when choosing career

In response to my first post in the series of career selections SEE LINK  , I received interesting feedback via comments , emails and discussions I had with people. It alerted me that people seem to put quite a lot of emphasis on the various assessments offered for career guidance but yet don’t seem to see it beneficial.

When I was 21 years old, after my army duty, my dad made it clear that I will have to study in a university. I had no idea what and where and was extremely muddled. It was decided that I will do an assessment with a professional guidance counselor. I remember the long and excruciating assessment. I had to fill in a long questionnaire followed by a cumbersome interview. After long hours in his office, I left with one message: “I can do anything I put my mind to”… I was still confused about the path to take.

Carol Dweck, a professor from Stanford University and the author of “Mindset” has dedicated years of research onto people’s belief in their abilities and talents and how it affects which paths they choose to take in life. She demonstrates that what matters most is our mindset. There are two types of mindsets: people with the fixed mindset where they believe that we were born with our abilities and talent and there is nothing that can be done to change it and people with growth mindset who believe in their ability to grow and learn from mistakes rather than seeing those mistakes as failures.

How are this types of mindsets linked to selecting your career path? I believe there is a strong connection between what you believe you can do to the path you choose. Adopting a growth mindset would help you with choosing a path that may be more difficult to pursue but at the end, more fulfilling. Having a mindset that failures are perceived as opportunities will ease your choice process towards your own development.

I wish I understood this when I did my own assessment. I would have understood the advice given to me better. Anyone at any time can adopt the growth mindset. We should start embedding this mindset into our schools from an early stage.

Image source: unknown

Choosing what to do after school

Source: abssvss

You’re 18 years old, finished school and most probably, experiencing the ‘end of childhood’ as you knew it. You are faced with a life time decision, or so you feel, about your career path.

Many have been in a similar situation..’the road not taken’…’jobs of the future’… ‘choose wisely’…. So much pressure for relatively young souls that have being part of the schooling system for more than a decade. A system where almost everything is dictated, including the dress code, the time to wake up and the curriculum.

Now, you have to choose the path to take. What to learn, where and when. You have to dictate your own path. Seeking guidance through assessments, professionals, teachers or parents can be useful but doesn’t always bear the answers you are looking for.

The following four principles can help you through this period;

  1. Take the risk. The biggest fear is selecting a path for which you are not sure of. It’s Ok if you decide to change your route! See each experience as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  2. Embrace lifelong learning. No matter what you have chosen, continue learning. In today’s changing environment it is no longer the case that we learn for a profession it is learning while you are in the job.
  3. Travel, get out of your comfort zone. Traveling experiences can provide ample learning and strengthen your character.
  4. Gap Year; If you’re not sure what to do after school, take a gap year, but enrich this year with studies, reading and travel experiences. The decision will come sooner or later. Even if later, you’d have a wider foundation to stand on to ensure you are equipped to deal with changes and new unexpected career pathways.

Source: Crunchy Friday

* This post is first in a series of articles to tackle issue of career guidance. Please comment and share your thoughts and own experiences

Grade 9 exit plan is not enough

(This article was published at the Saturday Star, 16th May 2015)

The Minister of Education Mrs. Angie Motshekga, when delivering her budget to Parliament last week, announced the Grade 9 School Exit Plan, which introduces a school leaving certificate for Grade 9 pupils. Motshekga anticipates that this “Grade 9 School Exit Level Certificate would address unemployment and the country’s skills shortages.”

Surely something is missing in this plan! How can nine years of schooling help with reducing unemployment when we are still producing school leavers who are mathematically and language illiterate? This has been substantiated over the past few years by the Grade 9 ANA results. In 2014 Grade 9 pupils achieved on average 10.8% in Math, 48,3% in Home Language and 34,4% in First Additional Language.

How will the issuing of this certificate yield any better results than what we currently have?

I am not totally against the Minister’s announcement, but I’d like to elaborate on some points that I feel should be taken into consideration in regard to the “Grade 9 Exit Plan”. Since 1994, The Department of Education has implemented many new changes e.g. they have managed to increase the Grade 1 enrolment to nearly 100%, which is a remarkable achievement. However, the QUALITY of schooling is very poor, as reflected by the ANA results, by international benchmarking and by our matric results. SA is placed last in math education in the world. The 2008 plan to increase the number of teachers has been successfully implemented BUT the QUALITY of entrants to the teaching profession is a cause for concern, as was pointed out in recent research published by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE); Teachers in South Africa: Supply and Demand 2013-2025 If we keep compromising on the QUALITY of education in this country we will continue getting mediocre and below average outputs.

There is no doubt that the Department of Education has to first and foremost ensure that these first nine years of schooling will be of a HIGH QUALITY, providing good resources and sound teacher training.

But let’s take it one step further. When looking at top performing countries in the world in the field of education, Finland ranks as one of the best. Finland has only nine compulsory years of schooling, but has been one of the role models for QUALITY in education, placed top in international benchmarking assessments such as the TIMSS and the PISA. This, however, is not where it ends. In Finland, after nine years of basic education a pupil, at the age of 16, can select from two paths, either to continue their secondary education on an academic track, or choose a vocational track.

Many countries in the world, where ORT schools operate successfully, implement this type of system and are able to offer vocational routes to their pupils. ORT High Schools in France, for example, meet the dynamic needs of the job market by offering optics, banking, informatics and other qualifications. In the Former Soviet Union (FSU), more than 20 vocational training schools and colleges have been established by ORT in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. This places ORT as a leader in delivering career-oriented training in this region.

In December2014 CDE published a presentation by Ricardo Hausmann, a Harvard economist, who has been leading an intensive study of the South Africa economy. One of the recommendations Prof. Hausmann makes is for a higher rate of job creation in SA. He suggests that due to SA’s significant skills constraints, the country should aim to shift from non-tradable sectors, such as tourism, finance, construction, retail, wholesale and transportation, which require highly skilled professionals, to tradable sectors, producing things that are exportable, such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

If we were to adopt this recommendation, we would develop a vocational path that would focus on the needs of the market and it would also improve the South African economy. It would be a win- win situation for the country, as it would also reduce the rate of unemployment and increase the labour force. The exit plan presented by the Minister means that those Grade 9 pupils that exit the system at this level will not follow the academic stream for the National Senior Certificate. These pupils could then choose from among 26 skills and vocational subjects offered by technical schools that have been upgraded or technical and vocational education colleges. Maybe, we should look at this proposal by the Minister in a different light; maybe the approach to this plan should be different.

In my view, any Grade 9 pupil, from whatever social background, should be able to make this choice, based on his/her competency and interest, as to whether they follow the academic or vocational route. If a pupil chooses a vocational path it should not be perceived as a poor choice. This requires a change in the mind-set of the nation!

Most South Africans perceive the academic route as the most prestigious and fulfilling path to follow. We should all respect the opportunities that lie within the vocational route. The vocational path should also be appreciated and advocated, as South Africa has a huge shortage of people with these specialized skills. Both routes should be valued and therefore invested in.

Vocational Training providers should also be upgraded so that they are able to offer top quality education and training. As the CDE report concludes “SA needs skills, and it needs a clear strategy, coordinated across many sectors of the state and the economy. Only then will the country grow and create jobs that will reduce inequality and eradicate poverty” Prof. Ricardo Hausmann Education is the most important vehicle to reduce poverty and unemployment. It will grow the labour force and provide equality.

If we want to improve the economy and enhance education in this country there should be a common vision, by all stakeholders, and not silo –policies declared sporadically. So to ensure that immaterial of the school exit level of a pupil, that he/she receives QUALITY education, thus ensuring they leave the system both literate and numerate.

Written by Ariellah Rosenberg, CEO, ORT SA. ORT SA is an NGO in education, vocational and enterprise development training. http://www.ortsa.org.za , Twitter: @ORT_SA , @Ariellah